A few minutes ago a question concerning the acceptance of incest between brothers and sisters was asked, specifically to atheists. Apart from a few liberal and/or scientific answers, many have just said that it's "immoral, disgusting, wrong, nasty" - but few have said why.

I am proud to be able to think for myself, and I thought and hoped that most atheists do that, so: WHY is it wrong/immoral/disgusting? I can't imagine sleeping with my brother without feeling somewhat nauseated, but I don't think it's wrong for others to do that. Then there's the "disabilities" argument: can you truly prohibit sex on the basis that disabilities in hypothetical children are likely to occur? There is no guarantee for that, and a Spain incestuous couple has healthy children.

I truly wonder why it is all these bad things, and the argument "just because" or "it's always been like that" is not an argument, it's embarassing.

I'm willing to change my mind here - on the grounds of good points.

10 Answers

  • john c
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Surviving in ancient and prehistoric times depended on the strength of the family and clan. If incest was allowed the family ( clan ) would become too week. It wouldn`t be able to survive in the competition with other families or clans. To gain power it had to grow fast and with incest the numbers of family members would decrease com paired to others.

    In today's society it wouldn`t have any significance. Now it is entirely a moral question ( if we are not talking about incest in the same family for generations, witch probably would create "disabilities" to my opinion ). The matter of incest being disgusting, wrong, nasty etc. is in line with the view of homosexuals and teens sex ( which has become an obsession now a days ). Those views has been forced on us by Christianity and other religions.

    With today's sex ed and methods of preventions, there can`t be anything wrong with any of above mentioned sexual acts

  • 1 decade ago

    Avoidance of incest is a biological drive that we didn't understand and, to explain it, we tied it to religion. Some animals, such as lions, have very strong instincts to avoid incest.

    Animals that don't avoid incest are those that do not have long term or monogamous mating habits. If you are an animal with frequent mating habits with many partners then the chance of having an inbred, sick child isn't that big of a problem. You will mate again in a few months or a year.

    If, however, you are an animal that doesn't have lots of offspring or partners, then the problems due to inbreeding are much greater.

    If my knowledge of math was greater this could be proven with a few simple probability equations.

    But this is why lions chase away male offspring, while domestic dogs don't. Different sexual pressures are at work.


    I just read some of the other answers.


    Ok, first, inbreeding doesn't cause mutations. It increases the probability that a recessive gene will find its allele and the offspring may then get sick. This is how sickle cell works. If two sickle cell genes match up then your kid dies very young. Just one sickle cell gene gives you an advantage when fighting malaria.

    Secondly, even if no congenital problems arise, inbreeding results in a greater weakness to parasitic infections. This is because the disease doesn't need to evolve as much to infect you, it is already familiar with your particular immune response as dictated by your genes.

    Source(s): Marlene Zuk's _Riddled with Life_ and _Sexual Selections_. Carl Zimmer's _Parasite Rex_. Richard Dawkins' _The Selfish Gene_.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Incest doesn't guarantee disabled children, it's more complicated than that. I don't think there's really any point getting into the technical aspects here, but basically a child whose parents are close relations has an increased probability of genetic mutation. That mutation may or may not occur, and it may or may not manifest itself in what we would call disability.

    Still it's more dangerous than, say, drinking alcohol while pregnant and I'd like to think that most of us would consider that to be immoral. But as long as they use adequate birth control I don't see any moral dilemma. Assuming they're both consenting adults, of course.

    Really the only reason people think it's wrong or disgusting is because they're socially conditioned to think that. Indeed that's usually the reason people use words like 'disgusting' about behaviours.

  • 1 decade ago

    There is only a greater likelihood of genetic abnormality if the line contains a defective gene - if it doesn't then the children will be healthy. I think that over the years - going very far back because if you study ancients and even primitive tribes you will find all had some kind of incest taboo - that it has become socially ingrained in order to make one seek out new bloodlines. I myself believe this to be part of the evolutionary process.. if too many of us married too close within our lines then as a species we would become weaker not stronger.

    A good example would be my great great grandparents - they were first cousins and those types of marriages were socially acceptable in the US up until the late 1800's (mine married in 1852). Out of 11 children, my great great grandmother outlived 10 (four died as infants). Of the surviving 7 children all but one had serious medical issues from dropsy (congestive heart failure which killed my great grandmother at the age of 34) to Brights Disease. Given that (and being a genealogist I know my medical history back into the 1700's at least) I'd never consider marrying a close family member.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Though incest has not scientifically been proven to have higher rates of birth defects, the selective gene pool has created a much higher rate of severe allergies and genetically transferred diseases. Samaritans in Israel have had a very small gene pool for thousands of years (often marrying cousins and brothers/sisters) and this has caused many genetically transferred immune diseases. In ancient Egypt, the Pharonic line consisted of a very small gene pool (many brother/sister and cousin marriages) causing both genetically transferred diseases as well as heavily amplifying food allergies. Documents from the 14th to 18th century BCE kept by the Egyptian priesthood, show very specific food restrictions for the Pharoah's diet including restricting pork and shellfish due to severe allergies within the Pharonic line. All of the Egyptian priesthood were taught these food restrictions for the Pharoah (passed down as if they were divine decree), and these "divine decrees eventually passed to nearby cultures even though their original meaning was lost.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I think the response is mostly atavistic; a visceral personal reaction. However, there are stories of brothers and sisters who mate (not knowing they are siblings) this may be a different question.

    Another way to think of this, that might provoke some insight into your thinking, is if you find it ok for same sex siblings to be intimate? There are examples of gay male identical twins who are lovers. This removes the issue of "issue" to be punny. I wonder how people think about that?

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I didn't say it was disgusting. I do have three pretty sisters but never have been sexually attracted to them.

    I objected on scientific grounds. I understand in many cultures it is encouraged to marry a cousin to keep the family close. That's their culture, not mine.

    My answer? I don't know. Glad I didn't make the mistake that couple in Germany made.

    Source(s): Atheist
  • 1 decade ago

    evolution has programmed us to revile the idea of sex with family. this is because it is not advantageous to the passing on of ones genes due to the mutation factor of close relatives. it's just that simple. immorality has nothing whatsoever to do with it. obviously, on occasion, the offspring of such a union sometimes comes out fine. but more often than not, the child is mongoloid or has some other genetic maladaptive disease. and as we all know, evolution has no pity or remorse for it's trial and error ways. natural selection has no conscience.

  • 1 decade ago

    Why is it wrong/immoral/disgusting?

    Have you met either of my brothers?


  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    why? I guess it's an arbitration..

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