[Paleopsych] Crosswalk: (Wesley Smith) The Revolt Against Human Nature

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The Revolt Against Human Nature
    Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2005 Posted: 8:10:29PM EST

    Are you ready for the posthuman future? That is the frightening
    question posed by Wesley J. Smith in his new book, Consumer's Guide to
    a Brave New World. Smith, Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute and
    special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture, has
    written another book that demands the attention of every thoughtful
    We are living in an age of radical transformations in science,
    technology, and worldview. Standing at the center of the worldview now
    dominant in our society is an affirmation that human beings have the
    right, if not the responsibility, to "improve" themselves in every
    way. In a culture that celebrates youth, attractiveness, and
    achievement, the idea of personal improvement is now being stretched
    beyond what previous generations could have imagined.
    "It is a natural human desire to manipulate our bodies to look better,
    feel better, and age better," Smith explains. "We not only wish to be
    free of disease, but also deeply desire to remain youthful in
    appearance and physical vigor."
    With "Botox parties" and cosmetic surgery now becoming routine, many
    Americans simply assume that personal enhancement is a basic right.
    Now, some want to push beyond natural biological barriers in order to
    achieve even greater "enhancements" in the future. We now face the
    undeniable truth that at least some of our fellow citizens are ready
    to use genetic enhancements, cloning technologies, and germ line
    engineering to achieve what some now call a posthuman future.
    Genetic modifications and germ line therapies differ from previous
    technologies of personal enhancement, Smith explains. Plastic
    surgery--even something as radical as what are called sex change
    procedures--affect only one individual's body. Nothing from those
    surgeries impacts the genetic inheritance passed down to subsequent
    All this changes when genetic modifications and germ line technologies
    enter the picture.
    "What if a father could insert a gene to transform his daughter into
    the concert pianist he always wanted to be, or an atheist do likewise
    to ensure that his children would be genetically predisposed (if it
    proves possible) to shun religious belief?" Smith asks, adding, "And
    what if these modifications passed down the generations?"
    Existing medical technologies would not yet allow these developments.
    Nevertheless, with the successful cloning of other mammals, the
    completion of the Human Genome Project, and the creation of transgenic
    human-animal hybrids, science fiction is likely soon to become science
    Smith warns that all this could lead to what some now call a posthuman
    race. Others are now pushing for what they call transhumanism, which
    Smith warns is now "organizing with the intensity of a religious
    Once confined to academic debate and the literary world of science
    fiction, these proposals are now taken seriously by scientists,
    medical doctors, and ethical observers. As Smith notes, "While
    transhumanism is relatively new, the idea that we should apply the
    full array of new technologies to remake the natural human order has
    been bubbling up in radical bioethics and academic philosophical
    discourse for decades."
    The late Joseph Fletcher, infamously known as the father of
    situational ethics, was, Smith reminds, "a devoted believer in an
    anything-goes approach to Brave New World innovations." Believing that
    no natural limits were sacred, Fletcher became a prophet for a new
    social revolution that would redefine humanity with the goal, Smith
    warns, of creating a race of "superior people."
    Taken alone, that one comment should be sufficient to prove that we
    are entering a new age of eugenics. Some of the greatest moral horrors
    experienced by humanity during the twentieth century came in the form
    of eugenic arguments, experiments, and procedures. Determined to
    create a new master race, the doctors of Nazi Germany invented new and
    diabolical forms of eugenic engineering and eventually participated in
    efforts to eliminate inferior races by genocide.
    Less well remembered is the fact that many Americans also supported
    eugenic movements. Following Planned Parenthood founder Margaret
    Sanger's dictum, "more children from the fit, less from the unfit,"
    American eugenics advocates generally limited their proposals to the
    use of contraception for those considered unfit to reproduce and
    incentives for the "fit" to breed.
    Given the calamitous landscape of the twentieth century, one might
    think that the ideology of eugenics would have been thoroughly
    discredited and socially discarded. To the contrary, a new form of
    eugenic ideology has now emerged. As Wesley J. Smith explains, this
    new form of eugenic advocacy "can be summarized in that word that
    trumps all others: Choice."
    Smith cites Philip Kitcher, author of The Lives to Come: The Genetic
    Revolution and Human Possibilities, as arguing for a "laissez-faire
    eugenics" which would allow persons to "create their own versions of
    optimal human life--a prospect that Kitcher naively assures us will
    work out just fine because there will be a 'universally shared respect
    for difference'."
    When the ideology of choice is translated into momentum for a new
    eugenics movement, we are in big trouble. Reckless confidence in new
    scientific technologies is often translated into a sense that every
    new technology shifts from what is possible to what is necessary. As
    Smith warns, some now argue that America should begin experimenting
    with new eugenic technologies simply to counter any similar move made
    by a foreign nation.
    Many of the proposals now taken seriously by the scientific
    establishment are simply breathtaking. Gregory E. Pence promotes human
    cloning as a means to allow parents to pass down a "wonderful genetic
    legacy" to future generations. Gregory Stock, director of the Program
    on Medicine, Technology and Society at the UCLA School of Medicine,
    argues that human beings should be free to redefine themselves and
    their offspring. As Smith explains, "This could include inserting
    animal DNA into human embryos, inserting or removing chromosomes,
    inserting artificial chromosomes into a genetically engineered embryo,
    or perhaps altering human capacities through nanotechnology."
    As Stock sees it, this may mean that the human species will branch off
    in different directions. Reproduction would take place in
    laboratories, since biological reproduction through human sex would
    lead to unpredictable outcomes. In this new posthuman age, parents
    would order their children like designer products and would, like all
    informed and demanding consumers, insist upon the latest chromosomal
    Gregory Pence goes so far as to argue that children will one day be
    chosen as we now choose pets. "When it comes to non-human animals we
    think nothing of trying to match the breed to the needs of the owner,"
    Pence asserts. "Could people be chosen the same way? Would it be so
    terrible to allow parents to at least aim for a certain type, in the
    same way that great breeders . . . try to match a breed of dog to the
    needs of a family?"
    Wouldn't all this lead to a deep unfairness in terms of competition
    among human beings? Some advocate a form of "egalitarian eugenics"
    that would require government support, Smith explains, "to ensure that
    all parents have an equal choice to participate in the coming genetic
    arms race."
    This is nothing less than an audacious attempt to redefine what it
    means to be human. As Smith understands, "The deeper one delves into
    the posthuman agenda, the clearer it becomes that dissatisfaction with
    natural humanity lies at its heart."
    Behind the eugenics movement stands a fundamental hatred of humanity.
    "These people and kindred would-be enhancers think that human life has
    no special meaning in itself," Smith explains, "but that the value of
    any life--animal, human, posthuman, machine, space alien--depends upon
    the individual's measurable capacities, particularly his or her level
    of cognition."
    Inescapably, vital worldview issues are at stake. "Transhumanists
    embrace extreme materialism and scientism," Smith understands. "Driven
    by an ethos of radical individualism that countenances no restraints
    and disdains moral limits on personal behavior, believing that they
    possess the wisdom to improve the human species, longing desperately
    for corporeal immortality, transhumanists expect to mount a rebellion
    against nature that will, in the movement's eschatology, result in the
    literal re-creation of human life."
    East of Eden, human beings have been frustrated with the limitations
    of our nature. The first sin was, after all, an attempt to defy God's
    authority by claiming for human beings what had been forbidden. That
    first sin has spawned a legacy of continuing and accelerating efforts
    to transcend the human condition. Dissatisfied with our bodies, we
    want to defy aging and turn ourselves into beautiful machines that
    will never age, fail, or die. Pushing the limits of cognitive
    ambition, some demand the right to enhance human
    consciousness--whatever the cost--in an effort to maximize human
    performance. In this age of radical and revolutionary technological
    advancements, many of our fellow citizens would gladly trade the
    long-term risks of germ line engineering for the immediate
    gratification of genetic enhancement.
    Wesley J. Smith is profoundly correct when he identifies the root
    problem as a basic hatred of humanity. The prophets of these new
    technologies point to a utopian vision of posthumanity. As advertised,
    their vision would include no one who is, in their eyes, genetically
    substandard, or even unenhanced. Some go far as to predict a new
    two-class structure for human society, with the genetically superior
    ruling over a genetically inferior class of workers and servants.
    All this represents a Promethean effort to transcend human nature,
    redefine humanity, and be as gods. We have heard all this before, of
    course. This is the ancient song of human moral disaster set to a new
    technological tune.
    R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological
    Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. For more articles and resources by
    Dr. Mohler, and for information on The Albert Mohler Program, a daily
    national radio program broadcast on the Salem Radio Network, go to
    www.albertmohler.com. For information on The Southern Baptist
    Theological Seminary, go to www.sbts.edu. Send feedback to
    mail at albertmohler.com. Original Copy from Crosswalk.com.

    R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
    [1]Christian Post Columnist


    1. http://ChristianPostColumnist/

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