Talking about Human Genetics Within Religious Frameworks

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Information generated by the Human Genome Project is intended to result in better understanding of genetic variation and disease, affording opportunities to intervene in human health both prior to and after birth. The lay public's construction of meaning associated with these aims, however, has been given little systematic consideration. As God and religion are often invoked as structures to give meaning to technical and scientific discoveries, this project sought to examine public discussions associated with religious frameworks used to talk about human genetics. The results of 17 focus group discussions revealed a range of lay epistemologies that suggest how religious faith may impact individual perceptions, with some consistent differences in discourse for African Americans as compared to European Americans observed. The ethical and practical applications of this information are extended to suggestions for health promotion, care, and counseling.