How far gone are we as a culture and civilization? This far:
The federal government announced plans Thursday to lift a moratorium on funding of certain controversial experiments that use human stem cells to create animal embryos that are partly human.
The National Institutes of Health is proposing a new policy to permit scientists to get federal money to make embryos, known as chimeras, under certain carefully monitored conditions.
The NIH imposed a moratorium on funding these experiments in September because they could raise ethical concerns.
One issue is that scientists might inadvertently create animals that have partly human brains, endowing them with some semblance of human consciousness or human thinking abilities. Another is that they could develop into animals with human sperm and eggs and breed, producing human embryos or fetuses inside animals or hybrid creatures.
That report may be a little premature. In a blog post, the NIH says it is opening up public comment on lifting its public funding ban. It’s pretty clear that this is just a prelude to something that’s a fait accompli. Besides, who is going to stand in the way of Science™ over a trivial matter like basic human dignity?
The director of the National Institutes for Health is Francis Collins, a geneticist and Evangelical Christian. On his watch, the NIH is going to create living creatures that are part human, part animal.
Do you understand how far this stuff is going? Here’s a piece that journalist Will Saletan wrote for The Washington Post in 2007(!). Excerpt:
To make humanized animals really creepy, you’d have to do several things. You’d increase the ratio of human to animal DNA. You’d transplant human cells that spread throughout the body. You’d do it early in embryonic development, so the human cells would shape the animals’ architecture, not just blend in. You’d grow the embryos to maturity. And you’d start messing with the brain.
We’re doing all of these things.
According to the British academy’s report, “researchers have constructed ever more ambitious transgenic animals” — some with an entire human chromosome — and it’s “likely that the process of engineering ever larger amounts of human DNA into mice will continue.” We’re transplanting pluripotent stem cells, which proliferate and grow many kinds of human tissue. We’re doing it early in mouse embryogenesis, and we’re implanting the resulting embryos in “foster mice” so they can develop.
We’re not doing these things because they’re creepy. We’re doing them because they’re logical. The more you humanize animals, the better they serve their purpose as lab models of humanity. That’s what’s scary about species mixing. It’s not some crazy Frankenstein project. It’s the future of medicine.
Back in the year 2000 — which seems ten lifetimes ago — Jody Bottum responded to news that British scientists had created a pig-human chimera. Excerpt:
It used to be that even the imagination of this sort of thing existed only to underscore a moral in a story. When our ancestors heard of Vlad the Impaler’s wife bathing in the blood of slaughtered virgins to keep herself beautiful, they were certain it was a bad thing. When they were told fairy tales of an old crone fattening children to suck the health from them, they knew which side they were supposed to take. When they read of Dorian Gray’s purchase of eternal youth, they understood that the price he paid was his soul.
But we live at a moment in which British newspapers can report on 19 families who have created test-tube babies solely for the purpose of serving as tissue donors for their relatives — some brought to birth, some merely harvested as embryos and fetuses. A moment in which Harper’s Bazaar can advise women to keep their faces unwrinkled by having themselves injected with fat culled from human cadavers. A moment in which the Australian philosopher Peter Singer can receive a chair at Princeton University for advocating the destruction of infants after birth if their lives are likely to be a burden. A moment in which the brains of late-term aborted babies can be vacuumed out and gleaned for stem cells.
In the midst of all this, the creation of a human-pig arrives like a thing expected. We have reached the logical end, at last. We have become the people that, once upon a time, our ancestors used fairy tales to warn their children against — and we will reap exactly the consequences those tales foretold.
You think Trump is going to stop this, Christian? Dream on. If Dr. Francis Collins, a believing Evangelical, won’t stop it, or resign his position over his inability to stop it, and if the American public is ho-hum about it, or even excited, because maybe the research will get us ever closer to Utopia — what makes you think your vote this fall makes a difference?
Signs of the times, my friends. Read them, and prepare. We are a perverse and wicked generation who deserves what we are going to get.