[ExI] Hugo Danner the Transhuman

John Grigg possiblepaths2050 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 8 05:52:53 UTC 2008

On 9/6/08, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> Stuart our Avantguardian writes
>> I thought [the SF story] "Gladiator" [by Wylie] was
>> pretty well written for pulp fiction. Up to the end that is. What a
>> disappointing ending for such a good story. It strikes me that Wylie sold
>> out
>> to bioconservatives and the Christian right in the last few pages of his
>> novel.

I am going to have to read this book.  I had come across it while
"book surfing" on Amazon and had put it in my wish-list que.

>> I mean if Wylie wanted his tragic hero to commit suicide or something by
>> climbing a mountain in a thunderstorm, that would still have been sad but
>> preferable. But why go so far as invoke divine intervention in Hugo's
>> death
>> just as he was on the verge of an epiphany of purpose? Why turn such a
>> visionary work into a cautionary tale against playing God?....
>> It's like SF in general can't get past Shelly's "Frankenstein" as the
>> definitive moral guide to biotechnology. I mean it's acceptable in science
>> fiction for the protagonist to kill any number of people by all manner of
>> futuristic weaponry with the thinnest of justifications. But let one
>> scientist
>> create a new life-form and suddenly it's a crime against Nature that can
>> only
>> be amended by the death of the scientist or his creation.

Ahh, but creating a new lifeform and introducing it into an ecosystem
(especially when we are discussing "homo superior") could possibly
cause great havoc.  And do you want to be among the lifeforms that are
on the losing side in a Darwinian struggle? lol

Hey, we could put a biologically engineered superweapon into the hands
of your protagonist.  And so we would be killing lots of people And
doing it with a new life-form..., killing two birds with one stone!

I think the speculative fiction genre has in large part gotten past
Shelly's Frankenstein as the definitive moral compass for biotech.
There are many short stories and novels in SF that show the creation
of new life-forms in a positive light.  The Nancy Kress "Beggars in
Spain" novels I think are a good example of this, despite the depicted
hardships humanity experiences as we learn to deal with our
genetically engineered descendants.  I'm not looking for polyanna
stories and that is not what she wrote.

> Yes!  Just so!
>> Am I the only one who sees the contradiction in that? When man plays an
>> angry
>> God and wages hi-tech war with great vengeance and furious anger, well
>> that's
>> ok . . . but let man play a loving God that brings a new lifeform into the
>> world and he is committing blasphemy. At least Wylie could be said to have
>> lived in a more innocent and ignorant time but what's Crichton's excuse?

But even a "well meaning and loving" parent can go wrong or at least
have bad offspring. lol  I do find it ironic that genetic engineering
is often viewed in a bad light and yet I see parenthood as a form of
playing God.  As for Crichton, his nanotech gone wrong novel "Prey" is
being turned into a big budget Hollywood film.  Fear equals
entertainment and big box office tallies.

> My own fear is that they know what sells, what might make it as
> a movie and so on.
>> Maybe if scientists figured out a way to weaponize human embryos and kill
>> millions of adults with them, the Christians would reverse their position
>> on
>> stem cell research. After all you don't see Christians complaining about
>> nuclear weapons research do you?

Actually, there are Christians who protest nuclear weapons research.

> Oh, that's far from the truth. You're overstating (and so weakening
> your claims). If scientists did find a way to weaponize embryos
> and kill millions of people with them, the Christians (especially the
> most devout) would be on all the rooftops shouting
> " W E    T O L D    Y O U    S O  !  ! "
> and it would be hard to say that they hadn't. "There are things man was
> not meant to know!".

This reminds me of a quote by a 19th century French scientist (the
name eludes me) who said (I'm paraphrasing), "Christ will return to
the Earth right before mankind discovers all the keys to creation."  I
wish I knew the name.

> You've definitely got the thing pegged with Frankenstein and Shelley.
> I guess there was the Golem in Judaism. Unfortunately, there just
> seems to be something perverse in Western civilization that the
> Japanese, say, appear to be quite as free from as were the ancient
> Greeks.

The story of Adam and Eve being thrown out of Eden for disobedience
and partaking of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
seems a paradigm for this discussion.  But on the other hand Genesis
talks about God giving dominion of the planet to humanity and telling
us to rule over all living things.  We are told to "subdue" our world.

>> Death apparently holds no fear for Christians,
>> it's only life they have seem to have a problem with.

LOL, no believe me, Christians also are generally afraid of death.  It
is part of the human condition.  In Mormon circles there is the belief
that the separation/barrier between this world and the next is the
"veil."  And the joke is, "most people talk about how much they look
forward to the next world, but they treat approaching the veil like
they would touching an electric fence!"

> Oh, it depends. On some days they babble endlessly about
> the joys of heaven, yet on others cry hideously when some old
> man dies of a painful cancer. Why aren't they joyously celebrating
> when finally God has in his wisdom taken the poor man off
> to heaven, (finally!) to reap his just reward?  The desert Muslims
> do (or used to) I hear.
> Lee

I have been to very joyful funerals where the focus is on how the
deceased old person lived a good life and has now graduated to a
wonderful afterlife reward.  But the funeral of a child or young adult
is very depressing, due to all the lost years and the grieving family
that had hoped to see them live to their full potential.  Please don't
mock a hurting Christian parent or sibling for feeling like this.

John Grigg

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