Sunday, February 22, 2009

More Than Human

I just finished watching an interesting presentation by Juan Enriquez at TED.com (http://tr.im/gEOJ). As I watch the bio-engineering revolution unfold around us, I wonder what the future holds for those who deem our bodies a sacred gift from God. Certainly the ability to do such things as growing our own replacement organs and enhancing (or rejuvenating) failing body systems (hearing, eyesight, etc.) is exciting. To be able to extend our years of productive work and service will open up new opportunities.

Should there be a limit to how far we allow biological, robotic, and genetic sciences to extend our innate human form and function? Some years ago I listened to an interview given by Zbigniew Brzezinski where he posited that the great question of the 21st century would be "What does it mean to be human?" Revealed religion tells us that humans are the spirit children of God, created in his image. I fully believe this.

However, what about human clones? Are they spirit children of God? Is it immoral (i.e. against the desire of God) to extend human lifespan beyond "the age of a man"? Is re-engineering humanity the Tower of Babel for our post-technological civilization?

The recent leaders of the Church have (very wisely) been cautious about defining the boundaries of science and religion. This is in part, I believe, because Mormons believe all truth comes from God. Scientific truth is just as valid as revealed truth. Furthermore, the truths discovered by man will only complement truths revealed through prophets. But just because we understand how (i.e. discern scientific truth) to make someone more than human does not necessarily mean that we should put that science into practice. That was the horror of the Nazi eugenics and medical experiments.

The next ten years promises to be an exciting ride for the biological, robotic, and genetic sciences. Will we also develop the ethical and moral capacity to keep up?


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