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« Chuck Colson weighs in on Oprah and ’A New Earth’ | Main | Daily roundup »

April 28, 2008

Changing Life As We Know It

Tired of unsightly children, an obese society, or genetic health issues like diabetes and breast cancer?

According to NPR, “Advances in human genetic engineering may one day make it possible to design a newborn — from what he or she (your choice) will look like, to how athletic the child will be.”

Currently in laboratories across the U.S., genetic doctors are working on creating babies who can look as we want them to, and also removing infirmities and genetic disorders. This combination of reproductive and genetic medicine has been dubbed "reprogenetics” by some scientists.

Though largely unregulated, Britain’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority currently must affirm all requests. Still, the future implications of making a “perfect baby” has raised some concerns. The HFEA’s current concern is the discarding of embryos that might carry cancer mutations. Does the search for the “perfect baby” warrant selecting and discarding embryos?

Sound frighteningly like Nazi Germany’s education that led to concentration camps and the Holocaust?

Bioethicists fear genetic manipulation that could replace parent’s “unconditional love with a consumerist mentality that seeks perfection.” Furthermore, gene manipulation could condense human life to creatures of our parents' whims. The implications of “playing God” are unmistakable.

But Ronald Green, who believes that "babies by design" are probably in our future, doesn’t think the critics' concerns will be as troublesome as they first appear.Green wants to shake up uncertainties about genetic improvement: “Genomic science is racing toward a future in which foreseeable improvements include reduced susceptibility to a host of diseases, increased life span, better cognitive functioning and maybe even cosmetic enhancements such as whiter, straighter teeth.”

So why not improve our genome? I personally don't want to tread in God's territory, but what of the health improvements?

Read more on “Building Baby From the Genes Up,” at the Washington Post.

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Comments

LeeQuod

But on the bright side (he said, sarcastically), this could eventually solve the issue Gina raised about identity politics: http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/2008/04/identity-politi.html

Because eventually everyone would look the same, and a candidate's appearance would be a non-issue.

Rick Arand

Aside from the obvious problem fallen human nature would pose for the implementation of this new form of eugenics, many of the things listed in this article, such as physical characteristics or athletic ability, are really trivial measures of the worth of an individual. How does the desire to make our offspring look the way we want them to merit any serious consideration from those truly seeking to improve the lot of the human race?

While attempting to eliminate disease is a noble idea, how does the author propose that all forms of gene manipulation be limited to the pursuit of that goal? I see no way to prevent evil men from using this new technology to sate their own lustful desire for power and control over the lives of the rest of humanity.

Also, how many grotesque and tragic miscalculations will it take before any significant improvements in the health of future generations will be realized? Will initial attempts to produce future generations immune from disease result in offspring that suffer from some other fatal deficiency due to the limited knowledge and ability of the scientists in charge of the experiments? How will those entrusted to develop a better race of humans view their "creations?" Will their failures be regarded as creatures created in God's image or merely as unwanted and disposable products of human experimentation? I don't think we are ready to play God.

Angelise Anderson

Thanks for responding. I whole-heartedly agree. My dad also had some comments on it that I thought brought light to this situation from scripture. He wrote:

"I know the psalms say that God fashions us in our mothers womb, no chance, no random, It is like the debate on Intelligent Design, if we are only creatures of evolving design why not help it along, but if we are engineered by a superior intelligence meddling could lead to negative, unforeseen change. Investigating without altering would be the wise posture when confronted by such handiwork and genetic Mcgivering a costly folly of our arrogance and blindness."

Thanks for continuing the discussion!

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