Thursday, June 09, 2005

Getting Ready to Argue in Favor of Death and Suffering

Memorial of St. Ephrem

Cinnamon Stillwell had a good piece in yesterday's SF Chronicle, in which she identifies where many driving the pro-embryonic stem cell research bus want to go:

The perfection that proponents of embryonic stem cell research seek is nothing less than immortality. Though human beings will always search for cures to diseases, striving for invulnerability can be dangerous. ...

Disease and illness will always beset humans because we are mortal beings. At the end of our lives lies the inevitability of death. To try to avoid this fate is to deny the cycle of life, to deny nature itself. In fact, there are those who actively seek such a state. They subscribe to a philosophy called transhumanism, or "the doctrine that we can and should become more than human" through the use of science. But should we really be so eager to shed our humanity? Rather than "more than human," we could very well end up less so. ...

It seems human beings are determined to march on into the brave new world of transhumanism, without thought for the consequences. Aldous Huxley's premonition does indeed appear to be coming true. In the prologue to Brave New World, he urges us "to use applied science, not as the end to which human beings are to be made the means, but as the means to producing a race of free individuals." Somehow, I don't think our present situation is what he had in mind.
One consequence of this mindset will be to turn human life into a commodity. It also means that those of us who recognize the pitfalls of devaluing human life will have to put forth compelling arguments that there is value in death and suffering.

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