Tuesday, 23 August 2016

** FATHER FRANK’S RANTS Rant Number 691 23 August 16 DAY OF THE FREAKS


The freaks are coming to America! Chimeras, actually. Creatures created by crossbreeding human beings with animals. US Federal Government is to give the green light to that heady experimentation. The National Institute of Health proposes to give scientists money to make chimeras. Animal and human DNA will be mixed and chimeras be engendered. And Britain may soon follow suit…

Freaks apart, the procedure is for man’s good, apologists claim. Here goes the wearisomely familiar utilitarian argument. Harvesting human organs into pigs, sheep and cows is necessary for transplants. Research into chimeras is imperative to find remedies for many human diseases. All for the greatest good of the greatest number. Wow! Sounds kosher, no?

Actually, chimeras aren’t new. Ancient Rome had them. And they were popular. Indeed, there was a monster market where you could buy them. And customers flocked along, historian Plutarch attests. Despite laws demanding that freaks should be killed at birth, purchasing them was fashionable. Thus Plutarch reproached weirdos who preferred unfortunates born with a dog’ head or snake-like arms to normal, even handsome youths. Guess the ancient historian was a bit naïve about human nature’s depths of perversity, groan… So, the crossbreeding brigade should be happy: the monsters – renamed in soothing PC ways – will be back.
Most scientists of course aren’t mad. They usually do what society allows – from designing nuclear weapons to making contraceptives. We are a free-market society. No centralised, totalitarian, Orwellian state will control what kind of beings there should be. But is the free-market model safe?  Libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick once extolled the concept of a genetic supermarket ‘meeting the individual specifications (within certain moral limits) of prospective parents.’ Huh! Moral limits indeed! Unfortunately limits can be stretched. You can’t abortion-shop in Ireland but in England the pro-choice supermarket allows you to destroy a healthy foetus. Adopting a child is carefully monitored in Europe, less so in poor countries, as singer Madonna proved, I recall. And why should purchase confined to the old-fashioned category of ‘parents’? Does a pet shop asked for a certificate of marriage when you buy a cat? Maybe soon in some hyper-libertarian world cat-like humanoids may
be available for sale. Or sirens. Or centaurs. And why not?

Yet, the idea of half-human, half-animal creatures disturbs. What will their status, practical and moral, be? If mentally inferior to men but physically strong, the freaks would end up being servants or drudges. Slave-like beings. Slavery however is unacceptable to Western man (not so if you are in ISIS’ Raqqa) and people would recoil from it. But, if mentally and physically superior, servitude would be human beings’ lot. Neither option appeals. Besides, as Rome University’s biologist Professor Patrizio Dimitri tells me, the chimeras would probably be sterile. Unable to reproduce themselves. A man-chimp hybrid would also have trouble in speaking properly… Imagine their frustration, their hatred, their rage at their human creators. The dangers that would pose. Furious Frankenstein monsters galore!
Or could the creatures be just…different? Diverse? Isn’t diversity a jolly good thing, as you are constantly assured? Chimeras would certainly maximise that diversity. Awkward though it might feel at first to receive jackal-headed guys and cat-like females into your home, it looks like prejudice to deny them entry, no? Like excluding a refugee…God forbid!
Yes, God. Chimeras pose challenging theological puzzles. Should they be baptised? The Church does not baptize animals. She denies them entry into Paradise. But French Abbe Malotru was so ugly and deformed at birth that he was christened only provisionally. So perhaps could the hybrids, just in case. But their souls? A bull-like human being…what kind of soul would he/it have? Mortal or immortal? Well, a tricky business for the Pope to determine.
Religionists might opine that crossing species boundaries is tantamount to making war on the Creator. Because in Genesis men and animals are clearly differentiated. Transgressing or innovating on God’s plan would then be sinful, blasphemous and impious. On the other hand, doesn’t St Paul teach that since redemption we are co-workers with God? (I Corinthians 3:9) Working in synergy with him? It is not a matter of improving God’s work but of furthering it, of bringing it to completion. Also, isn’t there a science-inspired ‘process philosophy’? Going back to mathematician A.N. Whitehead? To be is to be in process, he claimed. The world evolves and we with it. Thus the freaks can be seen as a positive part of that.
Society is already finding difficult to cope with human racial minorities. People whose visible ‘difference’ resides only in pigmentation or minor physical traits. Enough, however, often to generate intense dislike, prejudice, discrimination and conflict. A fortiori, the presence of the freaks amongst human beings would cause revulsion, resentment, even violence. Rightly or wrongly, many people feel strongly about immigrants interfering with local females. What would men’s reaction be if a horny chimera attempted to approach or seduce their sister or girl-friend or wife? A nightmare scenario. Not even Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World went as far as predicting this.
Fantastic, sci-fi stuff? Not at all. It is scientific reality. Legal or not, such crossbreeding experiments probably are already taking place. So, a jerk reaction is unhelpful. Their ethics should be discussed. If any radically extreme ‘brave new world’ is round the corner, thinking humanity must be prepared for it.

Revd Frank Julian Gelli


** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized)
| ** friend on Facebook (#)
| ** forward to a friend (http://us7.forward-to-friend.com/forward?u=3ae40cde0c299583529f1448a&id=62418aad90&e=5707b9e8db)

Copyright © Fr Frank Gelli
Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp
** unsubscribe from this list (http://simplesite.us7.list-manage.com/unsubscribe?u=3ae40cde0c299583529f1448a&id=f9573901af&e=5707b9e8db&c=62418aad90)
| ** update subscription preferences (http://simplesite.us7.list-manage.com/profile?u=3ae40cde0c299583529f1448a&id=f9573901af&e=5707b9e8db)

No comments: