Anyone who has followed me very much has run across my signature line: "a society that does not respect the pigness of pigs will eventually not respect the Maryness of Mary or the Tomness of Tom. How we respect and honor the least of these creates an ethical moral framework on which we honor the greatest of these."
Many people hear the words, smile, and emotionally pat me on the head with a "that's sweet, but is it practical?"
I hope the blockbusting news of Dr. He's genome-sequenced human twin babies born in China now settles the practicality of the matter once and for all. The bio-ethics community has its pants in a wad over this egregious assault on human dignity. Some 122 scientists--in China--have signed a letter condemning He's rogue science, wandering outside the norms their fraternity generally endorses.
Although the global scientific community universally condemns it, what He has done is nothing new or breakthrough. According to genome editing experts, He's technique has been known for nearly 10 years. What is new is that he went Lone Ranger on the fraternity and acted on what was common knowledge within the genome editing community.
Actions follow beliefs. When life is viewed as fundamentally mechanical rather than biological, it follows like hand in glove that all of life, not just tomatoes, not just pigs, but humans too will be cheapened to nuts and bolts. Let's go back to an historical confluence: 1837. Three things happened that year that framed the world in a whole new light.
Austrian chemist Justus von Liebig wowed the world with his discovery that all of life is just a re-arrangement of three elements: nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. This ushered in chemical N,P,K fertilizer. Second, Cyrus McCormick in his blacksmith shop in Steeles Tavern, Virginia introduced the reaper, which made the scythe obsolete and ushered in the official beginning of the industrial revolution.
Third, Charles Darwin set sail on the Beagle and told the world God had nothing to do with creation. To understand the conventional world view of today, we must appreciate the confluence of mechanization, chemicalization, and Godlessness in 1837. Prior to that time, all religions, whether animist, pagan, or monotheistic posited a spiritual component to life, both in development and in sustenance. Darwin took it out and enabled mechanization and chemicalization to leverage the biological space with brand new manipulative thinking that resulted in a profound freedom for innovators to practice unfettered manipulations on life.
Slippery slopes are real. That's why we discipline 2 year olds, so they don't become monsters at 16. And that's why seemingly trite things like respecting the pigness of pigs have such profound consequences.
If these suddenly-ethical and moral-thumping scientists had been standing up for the pigness of pigs 30 years ago, we would not have genome-edited humans today. So on that note, I wonder how long it will take these suddenly offended scientists to speak for the factory farmed pigs, the feedlot housed cows, and the industrial ammonia-covered chickens?
Do you think they will ever connect the dots?
P.S. If you like my blogs, please send them to some friends. This thing is growing slowly and steadily; that's fine. I'd like to hit a million subscribers some day. Fortunately, we're not losing anybody. That's cool. Thank you.