Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The God-like Powers of Science

"MPs back creation of human-animal embryos" is the headline of today's UK TimesOnline
(http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3964693.ece). By an overwhelming margin, Britain's Parliament voted to rescind restrictions on this sort of Frankenstein experimentation, the benefits of which even its most ardent supporters admit is highly speculative and years, if not decades, away. (See Joe Carter's piece on Prime Minister Gordon Brown's naive boosterism here--http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=13246). The moral hazards are brushed away as simply the troglodyte recalcitrance of conservatives mired in humanity's religion-obsessed childhood. Time to grow up, and stop arguing with Science!

As I read the Times Online piece, I recalled a movie--"The Dark Crystal"-- about a world where strong creatures drain the "life force" out of small, helpless creatures in order to sustain their own immortality. I thought it prescient at the time, and now decades later we find ourselves on the doorstep of such a moral enormity staining our actual world. The pressure forcing us toward some dark dystopian future seems inexorable, where, as in Bladerunner (partly about the moral complexities of the different but related problem of creating artificial life), the rich and powerful live in the luxury begotten of science, far removed from the crime, misery, and short lives of the rest.

I recommend "The Dark Crystal" as a meditation on science, morality, and the value of life, despite the generally Eastern, mystical, new age kind of milieu.

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