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Catholic Dictionary

Term

HEREDITY, LAW OF

Definition

The theory that not only a person's physical characteristics but also his intellectual and moral qualities are derived from his ancestors. As such, the theory in incompatible with the Christian belief in the operations of divine grace and the role of human freedom in shaping one's personality. This does not deny that certain physical predispositions that may affect one's spiritual life can be transmitted from parents to offspring. But, besides grace and free will, a person's environment and education are also contributory factors in the making of his character.