Transhumanist ideas are often spread in notable science/tech journals, magazines and even some conferences. And today’s rapidly-progressing technological world is making their goals more and more plausible.
However, as Rebecca put it recently, “To grease the wheels of the transhumanist technological utopia it will take getting a generation on board with radically changing the nature of humanity.”
That’s where the world of popular entertainment comes in.
In this episode of BioTalk we discuss how transhumanism is portrayed in some recent movies and television shows.
What we see is a mixed bag. Some seem to take the subject more seriously, showing the negative consequences of trying to enhance the human race beyond our nature. For others, the radical altering of an otherwise healthy human body is not only largely unquestioned, it’s sometimes portrayed as an act of patriotism.
However its portrayed, for good or for ill, we should use these forms of entertainment as an opportunity to have a serious conversation about our transhumanist future. Especially now such a future is not as far fetched as we once thought it was.
This has been a recurring theme in Rebecca’s writing lately. A few examples:
After 35 years, IVF is still a vast experiment. An experiment on children, millions of whom pay for it with their lives. Even those who are lucky enough to have survived the process are paying for it in other ways: By having agreater risk of developing birth defects or spending their lives desperate to know where they came from, who they look like, whether they have any biological siblings and sometimes even why they’ve developed some genetic disease because they’ve had half of their identity deliberately withheld from them.
In the latest episode of BioTalk in which Rebecca Taylor and Chelsea Zimmerman discuss the ironic legacy of IVF: that couples are so desperate for a child to love and yet concern what’s good and right for the child himself is actually put last.
In recent years, modern academics have managed to recast “eugenics” as a positive term, distinguishing their vision from past government-mandated eugenics policies. The emphasis now is on “selective reproduction” and the parents’ “choice” to decide what kind of child they want to have. The result has been a search and destroy mission to wipe people with Down syndrome off of the planet through eugenic abortion. And it has taken so much love and joy out of the world.
In the latest episode of BioTalk, Rebecca Taylor and Chelsea Zimmerman “raise awareness” about the good news about Down syndrome. Not only is life with Ds not as bleak as most parents are told when their child is prenatally diagnosed, but scientists are making significant advancements in the treatment some of the more serious side-effects of the disorder.
“Behind every “no” in the difficult task of discerning between good and evil, there shines a great “yes” to the recognition of the dignity and inalienable value of every single and unique human being called into existence.” (Dignitas Personae, Conclusion)
“If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man’s ethical formation, in man’s inner growth (cf. Eph 3:16; 2 Cor 4:16), then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.” (Pope Benedict, Spe Salvi, 22)
In this episode, Rebecca Taylor and I talk about scientists experimenting with “three parent embryos” and the “Brave New” United States where there are no restrictions on this or other once unthinkable kinds of human experimentation currently in practice. We also discuss the impact this kind of experimentation has on women. Ladies, pay attention. Human biotechnology is a women’s issue if ever there was one.
Since Rebecca Taylor and I had such a good time chatting with each other when I interviewed her a few months ago, we decided to try it again…and possibly make it a regular series!
Introducing BioTalk, where Rebecca and I — and possibly other guests in the future?? — will talk about all things bioethics, but especially issues related to human biotechnology or those “pro-life 2.0-3.0” issues we talked about last time — from a Catholic perspective.
Unfortunately, these issues don’t always get a lot of attention from pro-lifers. Obviously, after almost 40 years and over 50 million murdered unborn children, abortion remains our highest pro-life priority. But if we don’t start talking about these other issues now and, more importantly, doing something about them, they’re going to get just as out of hand as abortion is today. In fact, we already have an out of control, unregulated fertility industry that, while it’s aim is to foster new life, results in significantly more lives lost, destroyed or ‘frozen in time’ than actually living outside the womb.
In this first episode, we’re talking about prenatal genetic testing. A few quick takes:
1. Prenatal genetic testing is not unethical or immoral in and of itself.
2. Death is not medicine. Some people actually maintain that prenatal genetic testing along with abortion “cures” or “treats” genetic disease. This is absurd.
3. Eugenic abortion sends the message to those of us who live with disabilities and genetic diseases that our lives are not worth living and we’d be better off dead.
4. Another unethical use of prenatal gene testing: “designer babies”. Sure, it sounds far-fetched, but we’re already we’re seeing an industry develop for couples to be able to choose the sex of their child.
Check it out (*Note* Rebecca and I and I are both total amateurs at this, so please excuse the less than high quality production and rough cuts throughout. Hopefully these things will improve the more we do it!):