The mechanistic view of man and the universe has consequences, the most important of which is that man is seen as a machine. Well, he must be if everything is machine.
Being a machine is not special, though there are specialized machines. Machines can be built, and machines fall apart. A man is sentimental when he becomes too attached to a machine. Machines can be improved.
That machines are routinely improved accounts for the headline “Gene-Editing Research in Human Embryos Gains Momentum: Experiments are now approved in Sweden, China and the United Kingdom“.
Imagination fails the machine-men directing gene-editing research. They, being progressives as all good people are, can see only the good that comes from tinkering. That the unexpected or the deleterious can come from “improvements” is not to be thought of. Mary Shelley had it over us. So did the ancients. Hubris is a dead word.
“A team led by Yong Fan at Guangzhou Medical University in China used the gene-editing technology CRISPR–Cas9 to try to introduce a mutation that makes humans resistant to HIV infection.” Suppose this technique is perfected and HIV (in its current form) can no longer be caught. Result? Huge increase in sodomy, almost surely, along with the cultural degradation which accompanies it.
“Briggs, you’re evil. You want people to die of AIDS!”
No, my statement was true, and stating a truth is not stating a desire. Anyway, we already know how to not catch HIV. Don’t have anal intercourse and don’t use dirty needles. Abstinence, that is. Not only can you live HIV/AIDs- and drug-free, society itself benefits from the absence of the dangerous acts.
Even this will be seen as cruel, because abstinence “denies” desires, and why shouldn’t machines have what they desire? Yet an HIV-infected man sodomizing another is not such a good libertarian, no? Skip it. What else does removing the ability (yes, ability) to catch HIV do to the body? Nobody knows.
The argument that an embryo is a human being, just as a child is a human being and an adult is a human being and a corpse is not a human being, and that an embryo is not a dandelion or a diamond or a ’65 Barracuda, and is therefore, as a human being, entitled to its life, is not convincing to a mechanist. Why?
Machines can be turned into other machines by suitable attachments or rearrangements of parts. Embryos, then, are only (non-speaking) machines and the only real thing that distinguishes them from dandelions or muscle cars is the number of parts. Which is why, obviously, experimentation is needed.
You’ll have noticed that mechanists are inconsistent in their treatment of most human beings who make it past the womb, beings who are not usually considered machines. Ah, but it would be cruel to expect consistency from anybody, let alone a mechanist. Besides, the movement towards raw pragmatism is well underway.
This paragraph caught my attention:
But Lanner doesn’t expect his work, which will explore early human development, to cause such a fuss. A year of discussion about the ethics of embryo-editing research, and perhaps simply the passage of time, seems to have blunted its controversial edge—although such work remains subject to the same ethical anxieties that surround other reproductive-biology experiments. “At least in the scientific community, I sense more support for basic-research applications,” says Lanner, who gained approval for his experiments last June.
Blunting of controversy is signal curse of our time. The majority is worn down by an indefatigable enemy, mostly because the majority has by now accepted the major premise of their enemy, which is mechanism. Point is, the water-drip torture form of argumentation has worked, is working, and it is therefore rational to suppose it will continue to work.
Research involving the editing of human embryos will begin soon elsewhere in the world, if it hasn’t done so privately already.
I’d bet it has; and I’d bet it’ll continue, despite any laws passed to ban it. The USA isn’t the only country, after all, and the Chinese are mechanists from way back. Indeed, the same magazine predicts the first lab-engineered human machines will be produced in China.
In theory, genome editing could also be used to ‘fix’ the mutations responsible for heritable human diseases. If done in embryos, this could prevent such diseases from being passed on.
Genetic diseases don’t exist on their own, of course, so nobody knows what “removing” a disease from somebody’s genes will do, especially because genetic disease are not so easy to de-engineer or disentangle. We’ll discuss the nature of this kind of evidence another time.
Another point to keep in mind: how these new purposefully made-superior beings (there will be claims of engineered higher intelligence, etc. etc.) will be viewed by us normals.
None of these considerations will matter. The prize of perfection is too gleaming.