Humans should not play God

Matt White

The march of progress will carry us anywhere we let it — from great achievements to terrible consequences.

Through science, the human condition has been immeasurably improved. In America and the western world, we have the highest standard of living, the safest food supply and medical care that prolongs our lives by decades. We have communication technology that sends electronic messages across oceans and over mountains, allowing us to communicate back-and-forth in seconds, space shuttles that are capable of flying to the moon and microscopes that allow us to study subatomic particles millions of times smaller than the human eye can see.

Indeed, scientists now think about how long it will take before the next big breakthrough comes, rather than whether that breakthrough is actually possible. This demonstrates their belief in the amazing potential in human creativity and intellect. And, rightly so, because almost no one could have imagined many of these things even in our grandparents’ lifetimes.

But, even as brilliant intellects burn with fierce curiosity about the nature of the things around them, it’s important to never forget that human life is special, precious and unique.

This is a concept that scientists in the United Kingdom and China seem to have abandoned. And, like all the scientists before them who abandoned it, such as those who worked in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, there will be extremely negative consequences.

According to The Guardian, a British newspaper, researchers are expecting to receive the go-ahead from the government to create hybrid embryos by merging human cells with animal eggs.

The article describes the likely nature of the embryos with the following: “Most support was expressed for the creation of so-called cytoplasmic hybrid embryos, in which a human cell is inserted into an empty animal egg. Other hybrid embryos, such as those created by fertilising an animal egg with human sperm, or vice versa, were less supported.”

Researchers in the United Kingdom are not the first try this sort of experiment — the Chinese beat them to it.

According to a article from 2003, which cited the journal of Cell Research, “scientists in China have created the world’s first embryonic chimeras, hybrid embryos that contain human and rabbit DNA.”

The article describes how human nuclei were inserted into rabbit eggs, which were then allowed to develop into the embryonic stage. It says, “scientists report that the rabbit DNA successfully reprogrammed the human nuclei, causing it to multiply and develop into embryos that contained the human genome and the rabbit DNA.”

The U.K. government should oppose this type of research. Mixing the special, unique material that makes us human with animals shows a deep misunderstanding about the nature of life and an incredible lack of respect for the human condition.

As a whole, people have the freedom to think rationally (and sometimes irrationally). We have complex emotions that twist and turn inside of us. And, we invent and create new things using the items around us. All of these things set us apart from the animal kingdom. Mixing human DNA with animal DNA destroys everything it means to be human by blurring the line between what is human and what is animal.

This type of research isn’t progress, it’s devolution, and for humanity’s sake it must stop.

Matt White is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].