If it is used toward the good, to treat pathologies, we can only be positive. If it turns out not to be … useful to respect the dignity of the person, then our judgment would change.Monsignor Rino Fisichella, Vatican’s top bioethics official
Craig Venter has led a mythological life. If DNA is the soul of life, he has become a god. He has created a synthetic DNA molecule, and successfully replaced the original genome of a bacterium. It reproduced. It's still reproducing. Dr. Venter holds the keys to the Kingdom.
Has the Vatican forgotten the story of the Tree of Knowledge? Or is Msgr. Fisichella just a very trusting cleric?
While Venter has not created a cell from scratch, his artificial genome did, once placed inside a bacterium, direct the manufacture of a completely new cell. Manipulate the genome, manipulate
Our science curriculum, increasingly influenced by businesses and national committees, does little to instill joy in schooling. Venter's latest venture will lead to further calls to cram biotechnological jargon into the skulls of high school sophomores to try to make up for the amazingly uncritical skills of their parent's generation.
I teach science, not ethics, but here's a letter I need to write:
Dear His Holiness, the Pope,
I realize you are busy, and that the Church still has some fixing to do despite apologizing to Galileo in 1992, but my hands are tied.
I am a science teacher, a government employee charged with teaching technology in the classroom. Dr. Venter just pushed hubris to a new level and the best response the Vatican can come up with is meh?
This is a big deal. You are The Church, we need a better response than let's wait and see. The story of the Tree of Knowledge in Genesis is an old one, older than Christianity, older than Judaism. Its lesson was true for the Sumerians as it is true for us now.
We live in a culture where taboo is taboo.
Maybe a peek at what others are saying will get the folks in Vatican City back in the muck of life.
This experiment will certainly reconfigure the ethical imagination.Maybe instead of reconfiguring our ethical imagination to fit our needs, we reconfigure our needs to fit our limited ethical imagination.Paul Rabinow
Anthropologist, UC Berkeley
We didn't get any smarter, just more powerful.