Sunday, 2 March 2008

Rogue's gallery no.3: biotechnology

The biotechnology research industry is a sister to the pharmaceuticals industry, and as is well known is the body responsible for human cloning and human - animal hybrids. But what are they doing it for? It is certainly true that they receive vast sums of government and private funds to do this job. Yet I do not believe that this is the primary motivation for doing what is clearly a great affront to the dignity of human person. Nor for that matter is it any real desire to find cures for illnesses.

This may well have been the main justification given, and we have heard the excuses ad nauseam. 'This will lead to great medical breakthroughs! It will lead to new treatments and prevent serious illnesses!' Yet we also well know that stem cell research has made cloning redundant. And it is a fact that attempts to cure Parkinsons' disease by using aborted foetal tissue has disastrously backfired. Unethical and immoral research does not produce cures!

Perhaps our Holy Father Benedict XVI can give us the real answer why. In his collection of sermons 'In the Beginning', (See fourth homily, Sin and Salvation) a book dealing with the topic of creation, he enters into discussion of what he has described as the 'technically sweet'. This is the attraction of doing what is technologically possible, of pushing the boundaries of both science and ethics. The only moral fault possible is incompetence in the art of science.

He gives as an example the commandant of Auchwitz, Rudolf Höss, who in his diary describes with great satisfaction the efficient transports, the organised gassing and cremation of bodies, and the whole smooth operation of the camp. It was 'technically sweet.' The very art of the possible, of pushing the boundaries, what could be described as the Frankenstein temptation, is a very powerful one for those engaged in this activity.

It is quite useless to point out that the practices of cloning and human - animal hybrids are sick, disgusting and gravely immoral, or as more cynically said, having a high yuck factor. The power of the temptation lies in the fact that it is possible to do what is absolutely revolting: the more revolting, the greater it is. It is like a black lust, a perverse thirst: it is technically very sweet, technology has made it possible. Like the mass murder of millions in the gas chambers was made possible. So great it may be, to resist it is in the eyes of researchers a moral fault.

I remember some years back seeing a cartoon in Private Eye, showing scientists experimenting on human foetuses, each labeled Master James, Master John, Master Michael... Each of the scientists was working with great glee. It was a most cynical and sickening piece, which upset me for several days afterwards. Nevertheless it could not have hit the nail on the head better. In the eyes of such people, the doctrine of the dignity of the human person is not just an obstacle. It is the greatest possible sacrilege to their work, and to the power of 'man'. For them their work is virtually a religious crusade, something that they could well be prepared to die for as martyrs.

I shall say no more about these people, except that we should pray for their conversion. I shall move on to the next exhibit, the 'industry' of prostitution.

1 comment:

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Excellent posts Oliver!