Medical science is on the cusp of an application of truly revolutionary and frightening new technology—the mapping of the human genome has lead to the subsequent development of the means to alter the very pattern for each individual life. Such a revolutionary concept must give a thinking person pause for consideration. For the Christian, each human as created in God’s image by definition and represents great value. Each person is much more than the mere total of their physical parts. By reducing a person to only physical and biochemical processes, the God given value of each one of us is lost—our spiritual being.
Innate genetic processes are randomly responsible for each person’s uniqueness. The DNA of each cell in our body contains the information responsible for this uniqueness—hair color, eye color, height, a multitude of physical traits. In addition, the genes (DNA) along with environment influence our personalities, interests, as well as physical and mental abilities. As I write, scientists are diligently working to identify specific genes and patterns for as many different traits and characteristics as possible. Of course, this includes the possibility of identifying specific genetic causes of diseases or the inherited risk factors that can lead to future diseases. While this knowledge is seemingly a good thing, the subsequent use of this information and resulting techniques to modify genes now leads to the dilemma of just what do we do with it and who will decide?
Techniques are now possible to remove and/or replace specifically identified gene sequences in any specific cell. This could be wonderful news for persons with known inheritable diseases; but with what implications? Even if it would not be possible to cure their present malady, it might be possible to perform gene editing for correction in their descendants. The means of control of heredity are only limited by the imagination of the scientists.
This certainly seems to be an entirely a noble cause. Yet, we, as a people must be very thoughtfully approach the actual implementation of such therapy. First, it seems quite foolhardy to do any manipulation for physical or mental traits alone. Second, any such manipulation will be unrecoverable and passed on to future generations with unknown consequences. Third, the possible success and/or complications of any manipulation will be impossible to predict and influence. Fourth, no experiment can possibly evaluate any specific outcomes or their effects over generations. Does man have the hubris to proceed with such experimentation on mankind?
In essence, man has come to the place in his history wherein he has the ability to “control” his genetic future. This becomes the ultimate use of eugenics, and we have not been able to responsibly control its implementation in the past. Just who will control these processes and how will they be used? Will the costs of such manipulations result in the exclusion of the vast majority of mankind from the “benefits” of possible “therapeutic” effects? Can we really trust our collective selves to judiciously and honestly use this science?
For the Christian who believes we God’s handiwork, we are each “fearfully and wonderfully made”,; any gene editing represents man’s ultimate challenge to God as we attempt to usurp control of His very creation from Him. As Christ’s representatives on earth every Christian has the responsibility to be informed and express their views on this topic and its applications.
Brave New World Should Be An Election Issue - Article
The Genesis Engine
The Consensus Study (Pay special attention to Francis Collins M.D. and Ron Cole-Turner Div., Ph.D.)
National Academy of Sciences, Committee Report on Gene Editing