Tuesday, 4 February 2020

What is the best 'bright line' in genetic engineering, dividing the moral from the evil

A recent post on the subject by William Wildblood helped clarify my views on the broad subject of 'genetic engineering' applied to humans - I mean, in general terms, the ethical questions relating to the technological modification/ take-over of human reproduction.

It strikes me that - from my Christian perspective - the real issue is about parents and children; about families. Our 'ethical' ideal* (that is our moral goal, based upon our understanding of the truth and reality of God's creation) - which we ought to aim for in all things; is that every child is the child of parents.

To repeat: Every child that is born should be the child of a mother and father; conversely no child should be born (or 'made') who is not the child of a mother and father.

The moral nightmare, the stark horror - which modern people have largely lost the capacity to discern, but which ought to be spontaneously obvious - is the scenario of human beings being made without any parents.

Such 'made' people would intrinsically be alone in a world that cared nothing for them as persons. A society that regarded them as made-hence-owned - enslaved 'human resources' at best; but in essence as 'subjects' for whatever experiment, exploitation or torment some person or group wanted to use them for.

(And - it seems clear to me - there are quite a few persons whose desire is to 'own', to have-full-control-of; a child, a person; whom they could 'legitimately' use - or dispose of - for whatever purpose suits their own wishes. This truly-demonic impulse is what lies behind the decades of legal removal of children from their parents' responsibility - to make all children (including those with the most-ideal married parents) both ultimately and proximately wards of The System, of the state bureaucracy, and the individuals that operate within it. Already The State bureaucrats determine whether children be educated, what they are taught and how, their medical treatment, and recently the content of private ideological-religious interactions within the family. Parents who dissent from State authority are increasingly likely to have their children 'confiscated' and subjected to the impersonal, non-loving, abusive regimes of the 'child-care' system.)

If such a moral bright-line were accepted, I think it would entail accepting the fundamental reality and divine authority of the family as God's way of structuring human, and ultimately divine, society in creation.

*Note: By 'ideal' I mean that it is what we, our laws, our social organisation, should be aimed-at. In practice, the family ideal will be unattainable for everybody, all of the time - but knowing and acknowledging the ideal is what enables us to live coherently, with meaning and motivation; aligned with divine creation.


Ron Tomlinson said...

Yes. It's also one of the crueler aspects of most envisaged AGIs (artificial people) that they be parentless. OK, in '2001: A Space Odyssey' we have Dr Chandra 'parenting' Hal. But this isn't plausible. Parents need to be of the same species if only for practical issues of meme transmission.

Francis Berger said...

"I think it would entail accepting the fundamental reality and divine authority of the family as God's way of structuring human, and ultimately divine, society in creation."

Yes it would, which is exactly why the Left attacks the family concept at every turn. Here in Hungary, the opposition leftists have referred to the conservative government's family support schemes as "exclusionary" and "unrealistic" because it does not include family formations such as same-sex marriages, which is quite beside the point because the ultimate goal of the family benefit programs in Hungary is to halt and reverse sub-fertility replacement.

One leftist politician over here referred to the traditional family model as a "scary formation/construction." I think that speaks volumes. It is good to know family scares him; and I am convinced that people like him fear family precisely because it is a fundamental, divine reality.

dearieme said...

But, but, but, BC. Didn't Jesus instruct people to abandon their families to follow him?

Bruce Charlton said...

@d - 1. You don't believe every verse in the Bible, nor should anybody - so single verses have very little/ zero authority unless endorsed by the general trend of the argument.

2. This does not occur in the Fourth Gospel - which is, on the contrary, extremely family orientated:


3. I see No reason to interpret such a statement, even if it was a true and authoritative report of something Jesus said to the people who (for a short while) followed him from place to place, as being a general and binding proscription against families. Indeed, that would be absurd. But the notion seemingly gained traction among those who assumed that Jesus had said the world was going to end in the next few years - in which case there is a kind-of rationality to it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@RT - Yes, I know what you mean and agree. But once the principle has been reduced to a biological category such as 'species' then the principle has been lost already - because it introduces the thin end of the wedge of subversion.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Frank. Yes, this is one of those situations when it is worth attending to what They most strategically hate and wish to destroy.

Desert Rat said...

The Savior's counsel to leave family and follow Him was made to people who were mature adults, raised within a family structure and having received basic moral instruction within that structure and within the society based on that structure and thus were capable of making such a decision of their own free will. To equate that with what our host is expounding on here is not just apples to oranges but outright dishonest or, at best, a sign of a complete lack of understanding of the gospels and the reality and purpose of Jesus Christ.

William Wildblood said...

I think the point of Jesus saying his disciples might have to abandon their families to follow him was just to say God must always come first. If it is your family or God then it is God. Otherwise it is always family. Why else would Jesus describe God as father?