Darwinian Ethics Launch Unexplored Blessings or Curses
For a theory ostensibly restricted to biology, evolution sure has a lot of supporters interested in politics and ethics. Look at what leading Darwinists are promoting. Some of them are rushing headlong where angels fear to tread. Where they will end up is anyone’s guess. Their potential for changing life, culture, religion, education – even what it means to be human – will impact every man, woman and child.
- Imaginary religion: Those who saw Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed will remember Dawkins, Wilson, Myers and other Darwinians equating religion to fantasy. A particularly acute recent example can be found in New Scientist. Maurice Bloch of the London School of Economics ascribed religion to a “figment of the human imagination.” Why are humans the only animals who practice religion? “because they’re the only creatures to have evolved imagination.” Bloch did not explain how intangible realities emerge from physical ones. By what criteria could one judge whether Bloch actually knew his proposition to be true, or was merely imagining it?
- Having an affair with evolutionary ethics: A pre-conference press release from University of Wisconsin – Madison about a bioethics forum held April 17-18 expected it to be “an evolutionary affair.” The line-up included a who’s who of Darwinism promoters: Sean B. Carroll, Eugenie Scott, Ronald Numbers, and John Haught. The press release felt it necessary to shout down any hecklers:
Evolution, the process of change over time in the heritable characteristics or traits of a population of organisms, is a bedrock theory of modern biology. In recent years, it has become socially controversial, as proponents of creationism and intelligent design have argued the theory does not adequately explain the complexity of life. Efforts to integrate alternative theories of life into school curricula have generated much public debate and legal wrangling.
The conference promised “accurate scientific information and discussion of related social and ethical issues” and the “implications of our work in the life sciences.”
- Follow the money: Erika Check Hayden reported in Nature1 on happenings at California’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the embryonic-stem-cell research organization swimming in money from taxpayer’s $3 billion dole in a 2005 ballot initiative. Recipients are almost giddy with disbelief at the windfall. One scientist described like feeling in “la-la land” when it dawned on him that it was not $3 million, which seemed like a lot, but $3 billion with a “b” on the check. “If $3 billion seemed like a dream four years ago,” Hayden said, “it is now a reality that is changing not only the way science is done in California, but is resonating across the US biomedical landscape.”
The article mentioned embryonic stem cells 5 times, but nothing about adult stem cells or the new induced pluripotent stem cells derived from skin.
Do the universities and labs receiving the money have any clear ethical guidelines to prevent abuse? Hayden pointed to one episode involving apparent conflict of interest. “The episode is only one in a series of incidents that have raised questions about the wisdom of putting the institutions that benefit from the CIRM in charge of governing it.” Do they have any medical successes? “No clinical trials of treatments derived from embryonic stem cells are yet under way,” and CIRM’s 10-year goal of demonstrating a cure for one disease seems “difficult, if not impossible, to meet.” California taxpayers have given scientists a huge loan with no payback schedule, no ethical guidelines, and no external audit. The year 2015 could come and go without a single patient getting relief, long after the voters have forgotten about what they authorized ten years before.
- Playing God: Even the progressive Scotsman newspaper seemed alarmed at experiments being proposed to breed human-animal chimeras. Dr. Callum MacKellar, from the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, warned that little is stopping rogue scientists from inseminating a chimpanzee with human sperm in an attempt to produce a “humanzee.” After all, they’ve bred a liger (lion + tiger) zorse (zebra + horse), wholphin (whale + dolphin), lepjag (leopard and jaguar), and zonkey (zebra + donkey). The attempt of mating a human and an ape may not work, but it is within the range of possibility the offspring could be born alive. “Dr MacKellar said the resulting creature could raise ethical dilemmas, such as whether it would be treated as human or animal, and what rights it would have.”
If man is just an animal, what’s to stop the attempt – other than a universally-accepted standard of morality? The “yuck factor” may not be enough. Consider the statements of Professor Hugh McLachlan, professor of applied philosophy at Glasgow Caledonian University’s School of Law and Applied Sciences. He couldn’t find an ethical pole star to prevent it. “If it turns out in the future there was fertilisation between a human animal and a non-human animal, it’s an idea that is troublesome, but in terms of what particular ethical principle is breached it”s not clear to me,” he said. “I share their squeamishness and unease, but I’m not sure that unease can be expressed in terms of an ethical principle.”
Moses, of course, expressed a divine injunction against bestiality. Such antiquated norms were long ago discarded by most secular scientists. That leaves any strictures as flimsy defenses against human pride and greed. “It’s unnecessary and ridiculous and no serious scientist would consider such a thing,” said Professor Bob Millar, director of the Medical Research Council Human Reproductive Sciences Unit. “Ethically, it’s not appropriate.” Says who? Reporter Jennifer Hawthorne had opened by asking, “Half man, half chimp – should we beware the apeman’s coming?” The article left it as an open – if ominous – question.
1. Erika Check Hayden, “Stem cells: The 3-billion-dollar question,” Nature 30 April 2008 | Nature | doi:10.1038/453018a.
An inextinguishable human conscience, a prideful, selfish heart that has abandoned its Creator, no moral compass – the world is poised for evil like it has never seen, carrying the whimpering consciences of a few along on a wild ride into the darkness, who knows where.