Question about God’s involvement in the creation of genetic disease

I am the mother of two children with a chromosomal disorder. Being a part of the special needs community, I often hear Catholics, or Christians in general, use language that seems to suggest that they believe that God is somehow directly responsible for the genetic condition their child has. Phrases like “God made this baby special” are very popular. Several parents I’ve talked to whose children have Down Syndrome think that the Lord Himself literally created the extra chromosome their child has.
The idea that God is somehow responsible in the direct sense for the abnormality as opposed to the abnormality being related to the fallen nature of the world, really disturbs me.
And here is why: if we say that God created Down Syndrome, why can’t we also say that God created Tay-Sachs disease or muscular dystrophy or cystic fibrosis or the rare chromosome disorder my children have? When I hear people talk about Tay-Sachs, for example, I hear a lot of “God allowed this to happen for a reason” not “God gave my baby Tay-Sachs”. I think we need to be consistent. Why is it okay to attribute one disorder directly to God and not the others? Why is it socially acceptable to pray for healing from one disorder but not the others? Is God really responsible in the direct sense for genetic disorders and diseases?

I would like to address this sentence:
“The idea that God is somehow responsible in the direct sense for the abnormality as opposed to the abnormality being related to the fallen nature of the world, really disturbs me.”

But first, are you implying that a genetic abnormality is related to the fallen nature of the world?

I am considering going back to creation before Original Sin. It is a fact of the material world that living organisms from ants to elephants to humans that their material anatomies eventually die. Going back to Genesis 1: 1, God created the material world and the material inhabitants . Obviously, the early animals would die; otherwise, we would have traffic jams of dinosaurs. The bodies of Adam and Eve, being true material humans, would eventually die. It is the spiritual soul which is immortal. Genesis 1: 26-27. Yet, the Catholic Church teaches that Adam originally had an extra gift of immortality. Genesis 2: 15-17. Genesis 3: 19.

I like to use paragraphs 355-421 of the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition as a reliable source of information.

Links to the Catechism.

But first, are you implying that a genetic abnormality is related to the fallen nature of the world?

Maybe a genetic abnormality is due to material nature …

As a mother of a child with special needs, I believe that due to the fall, we all are destined to carry our crosses. Some have physical ailments, others mental, others with abuse, the list is endless. God gives us our crosses to bring us to Him.

When life is going smoothly, we may not give God much thought. However, through the difficulties of our lives with carrying our crosses, we more readily turn to God for help.

In his Divine Providence, God gave us many opportunities to redirect our eyes away from the world and back onto the cross – He suffered for us, we can offer our suffering to Him.

There is no one in this world without a cross. We are called to carry our cross in the form of our child’s disability so that we could grow in grace, devotion and love for God.

During Mass on All Saints’ Day, I realized my son (severely delayed) has his ticket to Heaven and will be praying for us, his family, directly to God. How awesome is that? Because he has a disability, he will be interceding for us to get to Heaven.

We must remember that this world is only TEMPORARY - a pilgrimmage. After this world, is ETERNITY – which depends on how we lived our lives in this very short existence.



The material in our human bodies continually deteriorates under entropy.

This is because of being organic at a low heat (37[sup]O[/sup]C, body heat). Basically, we are slowly cooking inside our bodies, and this degrades the proteins of which we are made.

While unbearable to us, this is tolerable to God, because our original body was not intended to be forever; but is rather a “starter kit” for the spiritual body.

Genes are no more special than any other part of the body, but are likewise vulnerable to entropy.


Everyone who believes that God is good is faced with the problem of why He creates or allows earthquakes, tsunamis, parasites, genetic mutations and all the other things summed up as “natural evil”.

Some say that Adam and Eve were not only the cause of immorality, but also of “natural evil”. An alternative modern explanation is that the physical world could not even exist without “natural evil”. For example, mutation is not just the bringer of genetic disease and cancer, but is the very mechanism by which we evolved and came to be here at all.

But whatever explanation we prefer, it doesn’t help much when a bad thing is actually happening right now to us or our loved ones. It can all seem so unfair and meaningless.

And then some say things such as “God made this baby special” or “God allowed this to happen for a reason”. Perhaps they are right, or perhaps they are being illogical in trying to find meaning and purpose. But either way I think it’s understandable that when chaos hits us, we all have a need to find an anchor in the storm, a rock to cling to and give some comfort.

We are held temporally responsible for the sin of Adam and Eve.

Not spiritually responsible, Jesus Christ paid that price.


Do you believe that the children who are suffering from disorders and diseases are also meant to carry their crosses, as their parents and family who suffer with them are doing?

My theory on this is that mutation and degradation of the genetic code happens both by design and by corruption:

  • Design - by the hand of God - to help the species adapt and live in the world he created for us and also the same for the creatures he gave us to husband.
  • Corruption - introduced into the world by the act of the original sin.

In the case of corruption, God can (and I believe does) use that unfortunate state of the human condition for the betterment of mankind and the salvation of in-numerous souls both in heaven and here in earth. He may not have personally given us the Cross; however, He can certainly use it to help us and mankind as a whole… I think that really irritates the devil.

IMHO, this is another case of “both/and” verses “either/or” that we run into so often in our faith.

I’m sorry - you have some mis-information here when it comes to mammalian proteins - and I do mean this in all charity - but is a pet-peeve when wrong scientific information is given. Normal body temperatures do not normally cause damage to the normal protein structures of the human body. If it did, we’d all be dead within no more than two or three generations of the species.

(Bold/highlight are by my hand not the original text… please follow the link for context)
Chemistry Explained - Foundations and Applications - Denaturation
(…) The melting temperature varies for different proteins, but temperatures above 41°C (105.8°F) will break the interactions in many proteins and **denature **them. This temperature is not that much higher than normal body temperature (37°C or 98.6°F), so this fact demonstrates how dangerous a high fever can be. (…)
(BTW - Not a bad website for someone wanting to brush up on the basics in Chemistry or for someone just starting down the path to learning about how the legos and tinkertoys of the universe work :smiley: )

You are more likely to have genetic damage from a bacteria, viral, chemical, or radiation exposure than from your normal body temperature of 37°C.

Of course, in your post, you are referring to the body as a whole… if you are talking about spermatozoa then we have a whole different ball of wax for proper development, motility, etc… and I really don’t want to get into a conversation about genetic chemistry… IMHO it would be a thread hijack.

I believe they are victim souls whose crosses benefits souls. I also believe that such souls receive greater glory in Heaven. No one is without a cross. Only God’s divine providence can bring about good from suffering so greatly here on earth.



We are not even temporally responsible of the sin of Adam. This Catholic teaching is found in paragraph 405, Catechism of the Catholic Church Second Edition. It is also helpful to read paragraphs 396-409.


It is sheer nonsense to attribute any form of evil, physical or moral, to God. David Hume was a sceptic but he realised the Creator could not be directly responsible for death, disease, deformity or disasters because physical events occur in accordance with the laws of nature. The real question is how could all the tragedies in this world be prevented without defeating the purpose of creating an orderly system in which we can choose what to believe and how to live. It would require a constant spate of miracles which would make it obvious we are protected by a benevolent Power and cannot come to grief no matter how careless, foolish or selfish we are. It is significant that no one has ever produced a feasible blueprint of an earthly Utopia:

**385 **God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil.

**405 Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants.

No one is immune to “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. We are all at the mercy of the blind forces of nature. There is an inevitable element of chance within the framework of Design.

This is correct. Original sin is not a personal fault.

Yet we are still held temporally responsible for it.

This contradicts the evidence.
Take notice of the fact that we are not in the Garden of Eden.
Take notice that God punished Adam and Eve by kicking them out of the Garden of Eden.
We share their punishment. Yet we did not commit their sin.
Therefore, we are held responsible for their actions.

Now, what kind of punishment is this? Each sin has a temporal and spiritual punishment.
Adam and Eve’s punishment cannot be a spiritual one because Jesus Christ took care of that in a most loving and excellent sacrifice. So the only one remaining is temporal.
That one is still in effect due to Romans 8:23, since our bodies have not been redeemed yet.

Therefore, we are held temporally responsible for Adam and Eve’s sin.


… and God decides when, where, into what family we will be born from all eternity. He allows these different fortunes or misfortunes to help each of us grow in grace according to our circumstances, to all appearances random, but serving the same purpose. Some deny themselves, carry their crosses and follow Him while others choose not to. Crosses are inevitable in this world no matter the place nor time.



God doesn’t create diseases for people, remember scientists call it a genetic disease but they don’t know where or how it started.

Are you saying that if Adam and Eve had never sinned and remained in the Garden that diseases that cause suffering and death like Tay-Sachs would have shown up in the human population? :confused:
1008 Death is a consequence of sin. The Church’s Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man’s sin.569 Even though man’s nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin.570 “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered.571

My question is not whether or not God uses these situations for good. I absolutely believe that He does use them for good. My question is is God directly responsible for causing the genetic disease? Would it be theologically correct for a parent to say “God gave my baby Tay-Sachs disease?”

Please compare this sentence from CCC 1008 “Even though man’s nature is mortal, God had destined him not to die.” with CCC 376. I put in bold the reference to the requirement for human immortality.

**376 **By the radiance of this grace all dimensions of man’s life were confirmed. As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer or die. The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman, and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called “original justice”.

What we do know is that Adam had a mortal body. Yet, God generously gave him the gift of immortality. We also know that mortal animals die from both internal disease and external harm. It would be reasonable to assume that humans would die by either internal or external causes. Over time, genes do mutate sometimes benefiicially by developing immunity and sometimes detrimentally causing complications.

When Adam freely shattered humanity’s relationship with Divinity, he lost the gift of immortality. We inherit his human nature without the gift of immortality. Adam’s genetic makeup is now subject to death. Over time, his genes will mutate both beneficially and detrimentally. Because it is Adam’s Original Sin which changed God’s plan for humans, I do not believe that we can directly blame God for what has happened through genetics.

Regarding the question. "Would it be theologically correct for a parent to say “God gave my baby Tay-Sachs disease?”

I do not believe that we are capable of “theologically” judging all that is involved with saying “God gave my baby Tay-Sachs disease.” Parents are free to love God or hate God. Usually, we try to help parents love God when there is a baby with any disease. And we need to be patient. When parents hate God because of a baby’s genetic disease, then it is important to share the truth that God does not directly create evil.

Original Sin can be hard to understand …

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