Jerusalem and Athens Forum: last updated 07/22/2009

Why I'm Not as Worried as I "Should" Be by the Biotechnological Revolution

Suzanne Loughry '09

Once upon a time at a college not too far away, a girl signed up for a class called Topics in Bioengineering. She found herself immersed in scientific papers full of BioE lingo and funky graphs discussing everything from endothelial cells to neuroprosthesis to microspheres to dirt. At first even the abstracts sounded like gibberish, but by the end of the semester she was reading those journal articles with ease.

Those papers are still on my computer. I'm no longer studying engineering, but I didn't leave because of the biotechnology. I wasn't scared away by the incredible results in bioengineering. In fact, the papers fascinated me.

Then I transferred to Gordon and discovered that people were worried about biotechnology—concerned that somehow scientific advancements would destroy humanness. The idea of parents holding complete control over their offspring's genetic makeup, or walking by clones in the grocery store, does not appeal to me either. In fact, it horrifies me.

But what frightens me most is not the biotechnological advancements in themselves but the people who would use them to such ends. The problem is not that the Human Genome Project will inherently dehumanize us. The information gleaned helps to cure disease; it helps us understand how our bodies work, and how we interact with and respond to our social and environmental situations.

The problem is the people who choose to abuse this information. The problem is those who, in a declared concern for the survival of "humanity," search for the key to reversing the aging process and thus avoiding their own deaths. The problem is the parents who, rather than awaiting the surprise of a new person, attempt to control their child's physical, mental and emotional capabilities as if a "better" child will make them better parents.

Aren't such people destroying human dignity? And isn't all this really just playing God? They are attempting to take God's place, forming creation according to their own image—or other imagined form—instead of letting God do His creative work unchallenged and unaided.

But isn't this the very same thing of which we are all guilty? Isn't simple rebellion—the taking of our lives, and the lives of others into our own hands—the fundamental problem of humanity? We pretend to control the universe. We lie to our parents. We rage at our children's mistakes. We gossip about our friends. We do everything we can think of to live satisfactorily without God. This is the real issue.

Of course, a solution to this issue has been offered us. Most of us know about it; many of us have accepted it. But most of us aren't attempting to clone humans. What do we do about those who are?

Perhaps attempting to pass laws to cease stem-cell research isn't the best idea. Perhaps loudly complaining about how they are destroying our dignity isn't helpful. Perhaps we're coming from the wrong angle. The reason people are trying to improve humans is that humans are obviously dysfunctional. And the reason they want to live forever is that this life is all they have to hold onto. When scientists see a problem, they try to fix it. (I should know—I went to school with a bunch of them!).

We need to prove to them that there is joy and peace in death. Prove to them that the Great Physician does the best work. In other words, live such holy lives that they will see the greatness of God, and compared to that their projects will fade. Just think what a difference we could make if we all lived like genuine disciples of Jesus Christ!

Suzanne Loughry graduated from Gordon in May with a major in English language and literature. She is equally fascinated by biotechnology and theology.