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The demigods of this world are avatars of the one true God known as Dea and built in the image of humanity. They are independent and have their own opinions from each other, but are connected by a universal consciousness that operates similarly to a hive mind. This "super-consciousnesses" underlies their actions and governs them according to a set of universal laws, which they are instinctively aware of and cannot break. This prevents them from interfering with the mortal plane in most cases.

These demigods breed differently from mortals. When a man and woman get busy, they produce an offspring which shares half of their parents DNA. These influences gene expression and creates a completely new individual. Demigods breed by leaving their physical avatars and combining their souls with each other to create a new soul. Every demigod currently alive will participate in this process together, causing the resulting offspring to have literally hundreds of "parents" who are also their siblings. Outside blood are not brought into the gene pool, with each new member coming from inside the family.

The problem lies with the fact that due to their breeding methods, every god is closely related (Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, etc). The resulting issues that comes along with incest is well documented. The greek gods also had incestuous affairs, with them marrying each other, such as Zeus and Hera. The inbreeding led to sociopathic infighting and family conflicts which drew humanity into pointless wars, as well as physical deformities, such as Hepheastus. This eventually led to these worthless and pathetic excuses for deities being destroyed by other competing gods or each other.

With these demigods, Dea wants to avoid this outcome. Even though all avatars will have a hand in creating new gods, each god's genetic build is unique to them. How can I make this work?

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    $\begingroup$ The problems that result from incest are a direct consequence of genetics. See inbreeding. If you are throwing out genetics then it doesn't make sense to worry about inbreeding. $\endgroup$ – Mike Nichols Jun 3 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ "Incest" is not a biological term, it's a legal term (whether civil law or canon law); what counts as incest varies from religion to religion and from culture to culture -- for example, I understand that Americans have an unhealthy repulsion for marriages between first cousins. The biological term is "inbreeding"; the effects of inbreeding vary between species, and need quite a number of generations to become manifest; the three generations of Greek gods are not enough. There are entire species which reproduce clonally. And I for one am puzzled why would anybody think that gods even have DNA. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 3 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP If gods didn't have DNA, they could only make (100% mortal!) clones. And female gods also need mitochondiral RNA, although I cannot imagine what they'd need it for. You can't power a god on ATP. ;-) $\endgroup$ – Karl Jun 3 at 19:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Karl: Gods are not biological entities, quite by definition. They are not simply people with long lifespans and stronger muscles and bones. They are not members of the sublunar realm at all. As for how to have offspring and make clones etc. without DNA, I'd say that Conway's Game of Life is an eye-opener; if a very very simple cellular automaton can do it, then for sure divinities can do it too. As for children of gods and humans, who's not to say that each human avatar of a god or goddess comes with a fresh unique instance of DNA? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 3 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Karl: I'm certain that a god such as Zeus who can shapeshift in a golden rain so that he can impregnate the daughter of the king of Argos can also create a fresh unique human DNA when he shapeshifts into the likeness of Amphitryon in order to lay with his wife. After all, we imperfect creatures can efforlessly create new fresh unique UUIDs at the press of a key. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 3 at 19:30
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Incest only causes problems because it makes it easier for recessive genetic flaws to manifest, but it does not actually create any flaws that are not already there. If we assume that a demigod has analogous factors to genetics (traits that can be passed down), then all you have to do to prevent incestive flaws is to not have flaws. Since these being are created by intelligent design instead of natural selection and mutation, is seems reasonable that their "genome" would not possess any flaws to pass down. They may have enough diversity to pass down variations in their strength, intellect, and willpower through reproduction, but they don't have any genes in their gene pool for things like extra toes, heart disease, or autoimmune disorders.

Frankly, I don't even think there is a need for the whole soul merging thing if it was just something you were considering as a way to get around a lack of diversity. Intelligently designed beings can simply have babies with their sister/aunt/cousin/grandmother (all the same person) and not have any issues.

Just to clarify, this all assumes that intelligent design includes the idea that the organism does not need to evolve because it was "created perfect" and is therefore also immune to random mutation.

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    $\begingroup$ Good answer. The OP mentions that every "demigod currently alive will participate in [the reproductive] process", so recessive traits will be extremely unlikely to manifest even if they do exist - you'd need to inherit the recessive version from every parent, rather than from just 2 parents like us humans. With 20 parents, there's a 1 in a million chance that the child gets all recessive versions, even with a 50% chance of each parent passing it on. That number plummets exponentially as the number of parents grows. The perils of inbreeding just aren't there with so many parents! $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang Jun 3 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think greek gods have a lot of power over how their kids turn out. See Kronos, etc. In the act, they are mortal, in this respect. $\endgroup$ – Karl Jun 3 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang Almost except that the problem with incest is that it significantly increases the odds of all the parents being carriers of the negative mutation. As an example lets say that 1% of the general population carries the bad mutation even if one parent is known to be a carrier there is only a 1% chance the other parent also is. If the two parents are full siblings however that chance rockets to 50% since a common parent was a carrier. Having more parents helps lower expression odds but only partially mitigates the underlying problem that the risk all parents carry the mutation is high. $\endgroup$ – MttJocy Jun 4 at 10:36
  • $\begingroup$ @MttJocy But siblings with N parents only share 1/N% of their DNA. Two gods coming from the same set of 8 parents are no more genetically alike than human second cousins. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang Jun 4 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang Yes but the issue could still present itself if a bad mutation on the same loci spread throughout the population until such a point that everyone had at least one copy of it. As I say having more parents does help but the odds can still get considerably worse than if all the parents were not related simply due to the fact that rare mutations can become more prevalent among closely related populations.Of course the OP doesn't specificity what the population of these demigods is 100's? 1000's? more? it would make a big difference since larger population can retain more diversity. $\endgroup$ – MttJocy Jun 4 at 13:01
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Custom built

Each demigod's body is custom built. Each and every gene or chromosome is there deliberately. As such, genetically a demigod has no parent. They will tend to be genetically similar to each other, but may not be definitively so. It is possible that some demigods won't even be the same species as some others. Presumably any flawed genes will be left out of future demigods once found.

The souls will all be related, but we don't have good information on combining souls like this. Unless you can further define what a soul is and how it relates to personality or anything else, we'd only be speculating on how soul similarity might affect things. You have to either tell us how souls work, so we can tell you the ramifications of that. Or you have to tell us how you want soul combining to work, so we can tell you how to design the souls to get that result.

Incidentally, if you wanted the demigods to share genetics rather than souls (handwaving how that would work), then the inbreeding issue would go away with a modest amount of genetic variation. Because having a thousand parents is more like having a thousand great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents than two parents. You're getting so little genetic material from each "parent" that the relationship would be more like that with distant ancestors.

Inbreeding happens when you have an exceptionally small group of ancestors. Having a very large number of immediate ancestors is the reverse of that.

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The demigods are clones and so genetically identical.

If your procreation event involves the merging of essence of all demigods, the resulting progeny will be identical to each other. Imagine I am whipping up a batch of Jungle Juice in my clean trashcan. It has equal parts rum, gin, beer, whole milk, tomato juice and Fresca. Each drink I serve from the can tastes the same. Next time I make it, it will taste the same (I always use Schlitz).

Now suppose I make Jungle Juice, but all of my ingredients are from my last batch of Jungle Juice that I have frozen in separate jars. The ingredients are all the same. Every drink tastes the same.

If your demigods are the product of a long ago party, they are all Jungle Juice and their progeny will be too. There is no opportunity for variation on the ingredient level.

Now your demigods might actually differ from one another because of things that happen after their creation. For example Cumehtar likes a little umbrella in the JJ, and Nosajimiki always drinks JJ from the skull of a wombat. But these do not affect the ingredients that make it what it is.

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  • $\begingroup$ While you may be right that I always like my JJ from the skull of a wombat (who wouldn't?), being born from all ancestors should not make you are a clone. If your mom used rum or whiskey, and your dad used rum or tequila as the first ingredient, then your JJ will resemble thiers in the choice of alcohol, but in soul orgies like this, it's more like saying, "just grab anything from the liquor cabinet and throw it in." unless all demigods are born from the same ancestor without mutation. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jun 4 at 16:24
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Souls aren't DNA.

And further, if you're dealing in god on god action, you're dealing in a sort of perfection.

If you look at the process that makes incest a bad thing genetically, it's this: rare recessive traits with negative consequences combine with another set of the same rare recessive traits with negative consequences which is more likely if the parents are closely genetically related.

Basically, why would god-like beings HAVE these recessive imperfections?

Next, because you are adding more than 2 people into the parenting process--have to say that makes it even less likely even if they did have this tendency.

Say 10 parents. Or 100. If even one of them has the better dominant trait, that's the one that's going to be expressed.

Of course since we don't have that many DNA strands involved in our development maybe something else entirely will happen.

But, in this instance, I would have to say that all the human reasons that we don't commit incest, on a practical level anyway, disappear under these circumstances.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for that first sentence: Nothing about the "soul merging" actually mentions how the Demigod's body is created, nor even if they have DNA - their body may just be a physical blob of "god-matter" that their soul forces into the physical plane to match the appearance they desire $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Jun 4 at 15:01
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It's not exactly clear how genetics work in this population, but in humans, a child will inherit one of two alleles from the father, and one of two alleles from the mother. Because of this, biological siblings share, on average, 50% of their DNA. In this population of gods, each child inherits alleles from each of N parents, so now two god children with the exact same set of parents only share 1/N of their DNA. For two children with the exact same set of 8 parents, they only share 12.5% of their DNA, so they are no more genetically alike than human cousins.

As the number of parents grows, children are increasingly genetically dissimilar. Inbreeding is only a problem because breeding between genetically similar individuals can amplify the prevalence of harmful recessive traits. If there is little genetic similarity among parents/childen, siblings, or any other relation for that matter, inbreeding simply isn't a problem.

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  • $\begingroup$ Second cousins are 3.13%. First cousins are 12.5% (and note, in most of the world first cousin marriages are allowed, if somewhat frowned on in some places, approved in others). $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Jun 4 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ Whoops, corrected, thanks. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang Jun 4 at 15:48
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Soul is not a biological term. The way you describe it, they could all biologically be perfect clones of one single pattern, while this 'soul-merging' thing is rather a way of socialization and education. In this case, biologically they are the same, but they are 'born' with different combinations of memories and experience donated by other 'gods', and that is what sets them apart.

If you want them to be biologically different, they can have a very strong control over the god-zygote DNA equivalent. In this case, the question of inbreeding still doesn't stand, it's a process of conscious genetic modification.

One more solution would be that their heredity works according to Lamark's theories. As artificially created beings, they do not have DNA as such, instead they aquire the characteristics during their lifetime, and their DNA-equivalent is labile enough to change. Then they pass on those sequences to the newly-created gods.

The only way inbreeding would be a problem would be of your gods suddenly switched to the sexual-based reproduction later.

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Avatar Host

If I got this straight, the demigods all create a new soul. That new soul inhabits a new body. Although the demigods are all related (indeed, they are just avatars of Dea), maybe the bodies can come from a separate source, namely, the mortal humans. The newly created soul chooses and occupies a mortal human body. This could be done at conception, but it would be funnier if the new demigod decided to take over an adult, e.g. via the Malkovich Tunnel.

Once occupied, the physical body is then imbued with the demigod abilities.

This reminds me of the question of the Nature of Christ. On one hand, it's been suggested that Jesus was indeed physically human (but with a spiritual "nature"), and on the other hand some say Jesus was entirely spiritual and never physically human, and there's also hybrid theories. I've read that since mitochondrial DNA is received only from the egg, not the sperm, that Jesus' physically human body must have DNA from Mary.

If you're dealing with deities, you could just hand-wave a body at will, with any DNA, like a video-game respawn. Poof! Let's roll!

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