Ellen White on Genetics

By Brother Anderson

Mrs. White believed that acquired physical characteristics would be passed down genetically to the next generation:

By lacing, the internal organs of women are crowded out of their positions. There is scarcely a woman that is thoroughly healthy. The majority of women have numerous ailments. Many are troubled with weaknesses of most distressing nature. These fashionably dressed women cannot transmit good constitutions to their children. Some women have naturally small waists. But rather than regard such forms as beautiful, they should be viewed as defective. These wasp waists may have been transmitted to them from their mothers, as the result of their indulgence in the sinful practice of tight-lacing, and in consequence of imperfect breathing. Poor children born of these miserable slaves of fashion have diminished vitality, and are predisposed to take on disease. The impurities retained in the system in consequence of imperfect breathing are transmitted to their offspring. (Health Reformer Nov. 1, 1871)

The following excellent remarks are from The Household: ... "'But my waist is naturally slender,' says one woman. She means that she has inherited small lungs. Her ancestors, more or less of them, compressed their lungs in the same way that we do, and it has become in her case a congenital deformity." (Health Reformer Oct. 31, 1871)


Myth or Inspiration?

It has long been known that a mother's health during pregnancy can impact her child. It has also long been known that dangerous chemicals ingested by a parent could later impact their yet-to-be born children. But that is not what the quotes above are talking about. Ellen White is saying that when parents modify the circumference of their waist or the size of their lungs, that modification can be passed genetically to children. The idea that acquired physical characteristics such as a "wasp waist" are passed genetically to the next generation is nothing more than a myth. There is no scientific evidence that these types of acquired physical characteristics can be passed down to the next generation. It was simply a 19th century myth that has been discarded by the modern medical community.

Category: Shocking Statements
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