Friday, July 21, 2006

Bioengineering Monstrosities to Proselytize for Monsters

...even the most liberal ethicists shy away from advocating the breeding or genetic engineering of half-person/half-animal. Why, then, am I rooting for their creation?

Because in these dark days of know-nothing anti-evolutionism, with religious fundamentalists occupying the White House, controlling Congress and attempting to distort the teaching of science in our schools, a powerful dose of biological reality would be healthy indeed. And this is precisely the message that chimeras, hybrids or mixed-species clones would drive home.
David P. Barash, "When Man Mated Monkey"

The author is a professor of psychology at the University of Washington. Using science to advance ideological anti-humanism is a danger not just to humanity, but obviously a threat to science as well.

He also writes "it would be difficult and perhaps impossible for the special pleaders to maintain the fallacy that Homo sapiens is uniquely disconnected from the rest of life." Well, how many other species does one see bioengineering other species? How many other species are pining for a definitive refutation of their kind's uniqueness?

At work alongside Professor Barash's misanthropy is an unfortunate dogmatization. Darwin himself denied any qualitative difference between mankind and other animals. That denial was one of his most unsubstantiated propositions, but it makes sense as a hermeneutic method for the biological sciences. To elevate this method into an ethical or ontological principle, as many of his disciples do, is surely outside the domain of science.

I have at times thought that I was paranoid to see embryonic stem cell research as just another stick with which to beat pro-lifers. Now that yet another writer has come out and said in so many words that biotechnology should be used as a political club, such self-doubt is on the wane.

The author also confuses Cartesianism with Christianity, but that's a matter for another time.

link via Ross Douthat

No comments: