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So I've been doing some reading lately on in-vitro gametogenesis. For a brief intro read here: https://www.freethink.com/series/future-of-fertility/ivg-in-vitro-gametogenesis. The basic principle is that, using skin cells, we are on the way to creating artificial gametes. These gametes have, in one experiment, become mouse embryos which were successfully born. Creation of viable human gametes is not here yet, but you know how these things go. Could be here any day now. 

This technology, if advanced, would do many things. It would eliminate the need for sexual dimorphism - anybody with skin and money could make a baby. It would be possible for one person to provide the genetic material for both gametes. It would enable same-sex couples to conceive children with the genetic legacy of both donors. It could enable the creation of "designer babies" more efficiently than IVF could. It could potentially enable the creation of chimeric embryos with genetic material from more than 2 people. When coupled with artificial wombs, we're looking at a process straight out of Brave New World, where there is nothing resembling natural parenthood left in human reproduction at all. 

This raises a serious question: are the old-fashioned biological ways of being important for humanity? Is there something about the "given-ness" of our place in the world that demands our respect? Or should we feel free to alter the world to whatever degree technology allows? What does it mean to be human? The Catholics seem to have an answer. The social libertarians/progressives seem to as well (though I think it abhorrent and will not apologize for so saying.) What say you? 

For my part, I think the coming prospect of "designer babies" is horrific in just about every particular. I can't think of anything that would damage the commonality of the human family more, nor anything that would so entrench privilege. Nor can I imagine the effects which it would have on the children conceived in such a way. What would it even mean to be human anymore, when you have a caste of the selected children and the unselected children (as any children born by natural means would become)? Is the prospect of eradicating genetic disease worth it? This is even before you get in to the possibilities of whole populations mass-produced from synthetic gametes in artificial wombs, or technological implants and "enhancements" in already living humans. I can't celebrate this, it all just seems to me to be a grim enactment of Daedalus and Icarus. Is there a point where our quest for mastery over the world turns into rape? Is there a point where we should just accept Nature as it is and go Amish?  

That is the question I pose to you. Allow me to save some time by putting forward my rebuttal for a few responses I anticipate:

1. Yes, the world has kept turning after technological innovation before. Not like this, though. A person was still a person when they discarded bronze tools to embrace iron. This is the first time that we, humans beings ourselves, are the objects of the innovation. Indeed, that is part of what makes it so repellant - we are treated as objects to be fabricated and tinkered with. Pray tell, what kind of social attitudes will that create? How could that be just? Or are we just objects in the end? 

2. All Steven Pinker-esque apologia for the fruits of modern innovation will be responded to with a re-iteration of Point 1, perhaps with some variation in tone. 

3. "You could still choose to have kids the natural way!" In theory, yes, but in practice I expect that would devolve into castes of "selected" and "unselected", especially if we can evaluate embryos for specific traits. If selection of embryos proves useful at all, then all it would take is the resurgence of practical eugenics for it to become mandatory...for the common good, y'know? The nigh-certainty of the objectification and commodification of humanity, if this road is followed, is overwhelming. 

4. No, I don't expect the development of these technologies to stop, but I still think it's worthwhile to ask what we should do in response to them. 

 

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I think that we need to have an open discussion about this. This sort of technology is going to be really important in some areas - after all, being able to produce certain types of cells from other cells means that we can eliminate much of the current ethical debate over the question of stem-cell use and production. At the same time, this technology has some real application in terms of population health (which overlaps with the idea of designer babies). Using this technology, we can use a couple's genetic material to create a fetus but choose only those sex cells that don't have a particular dangerous (or even deadly) gene. We could edit certain hereditary illnesses out of existence (like cystic fibrosis).

That said, there are two real concerns in my mind -

First, there is a lot of potential value in designing children. But the technology will not necessarily be made available to everyone. We already have terrible inequality in our world and in the human population. Such technology could create a new inequality that could potentially dwarf other inequalities that we already experience. After all, why bribe university employees to get your kids into that special school when you can create the genius child? This will be problematic - if we are so concerned over a transgender student athlete, how will we discuss fairness when a child has been genetically engineered for competition?

Second, because of this value, the question isn't about whether we see this being used, it's about when it happens - and we need to (as a society - and perhaps even as a global society) decide how we want to deal with this issue before it happens - how we want to deal with the children who have had their genes edited. What sorts of ethical lines do we want to establish. And, how do we want to enforce (or encourage) those lines.

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Revelation 11:17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

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3 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

After all, why bribe university employees to get your kids into that special school when you can create the genius child? This will be problematic - if we are so concerned over a transgender student athlete, how will we discuss fairness when a child has been genetically engineered for competition?

It seems to me that meritocracy will lose any connection to the concept of fairness or justice under such circumstances. Here in the natural world we all work with what we have randomly lucked into. In the Brave New World, that will no longer be the case. We're gonna have to sacrifice the concept of fairness in the name of utilitarianism and adopt something akin to a medieval concept of nobility or a caste system where there really are people who are born to specific economic and social purposes. I don't see a way to stop that beyond controlling the technology.

3 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

We already have terrible inequality in our world and in the human population. Such technology could create a new inequality that could potentially dwarf other inequalities that we already experience.

Presume that, in response to public outcry, the United States government formally subsidizes this technology for everybody. It would be a revolutionary approach which would make totalitarianism much easier to achieve (if the government controls the means of reproduction, how much more totalitarian can you get). 

In short, presume unequal access is no longer a major issue. Is the "custom fabrication" of human beings a problem? 

3 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

being able to produce certain types of cells from other cells means that we can eliminate much of the current ethical debate over the question of stem-cell use and production.

It seems to me that the ethical debates which will rise in their place are worse. 

3 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

At the same time, this technology has some real application in terms of population health (which overlaps with the idea of designer babies). Using this technology, we can use a couple's genetic material to create a fetus but choose only those sex cells that don't have a particular dangerous (or even deadly) gene. We could edit certain hereditary illnesses out of existence (like cystic fibrosis).

I don't deny the potential benefits, but I do reject the idea that we should automatically pursue therapeutic approaches when the consequences of those therapies could be so expansive. It seems to me that the quest to eliminate natural evils is leading us down roads stalked by unnatural ones.

It's easy (and lazy) to accuse me of heartlessness or insufficient empathy here. But I can't help but be haunted by the idea that some of our evils result from realities of the human condition which, if done away with, would functionally redefine us. When does "desire to eliminate suffering" become destructive? The ultimate release from suffering is death, after all. (Looking at you, Canadian MAiD experiment)

Modern liberalism - the existence of human rights especially - is predicated on a humanity having a certain specialness to us which entitles us to be treated as subjects, not objects. This particular conception will not survive the advent of "custom fabrication" or editing of mankind. The comeback of eugenics is almost guaranteed when the objects of our editing and discarding are mere embryos and not full-grown humans who look pitiful as they are herded into cattle cars.

I recommend a perusal of the masterful "A Prophecy of Evil: Tolkien, Lewis, and Technocratic Nihilism" It's worth signing up for a free trial. 

In short...there's no limiting principle on "the improvement of mankind." Slippery slope arguments are not fallacious in the absence of a limiting principle. If current trends persist, we're going somewhere awful, all in the name of relieving suffering. 

59 minutes ago, gav said:

Revelation 11:17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

Revelation 22:20: He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

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Design the super-genius athlete fit to carry on your legacy. Don’t worry, I am sure they will all be well-adjusted.

I have read the utopian future like this and the dystopian future like this. The primary difference seemed to be whether society improved people to generate greater happiness or greater success. If the former, good. If not, welcome to the Eugenics Wars.

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6 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

The primary difference seemed to be whether society improved people to generate greater happiness or greater success.

Fair, but my worry is that we will define "greater happiness" as "lack of problems" and thus engineer away our humanity as well as our problems. 

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1 hour ago, OGHoosier said:

Fair, but my worry is that we will define "greater happiness" as "lack of problems" and thus engineer away our humanity as well as our problems. 

I think after curing diseases that humanity will still be plenty screwed up. I wouldn’t worry.

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15 minutes ago, Calm said:

As someone with a minor genetic disease that has still messed up my life royally and postponed my dreams until the next life and reduced most days to the four walls of my bedroom and worse seen my daughter not even be able to attend school after 6th grade and reducing her days to teeth gritting through pain and nausea and also as someone who is so looking forward to the major dementia of my great grandmother, grandmother and mother (here’s hoping I take after my dad’s side with this), I think there is a greater need to cure disease. Letting people suffer pain, mental and emotional damage and deterioration when we can stop it is as immoral, if not more immoral as any caste system.

Thank you for describing your experience. It is grievous and I am sorry. 

But if eradicating genetic disease can only be done by fundamentally rewriting foundational aspects of human society and self-conception, we are obligated to consider additional factors, and on balance I don't believe it is moral to proceed. A "caste system" is merely the most proximate of potential negative consequences. It brings me no satisfaction to say so, and while I  don't ask for forgiveness, I'm sorry. 

Edited by OGHoosier
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8 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

I think after curing diseases that humanity will still be plenty screwed up. I wouldn’t worry.

Have fun, you always do.

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I added a thought that is I think relevant. I will repeat it here with a bit more detail. 
 

I think you are missing a crucial point and that is health creates a caste system in and of itself, this is also massively multiplied by financial hardships and limited education, which then makes financial independence and getting decent educational opportunities harder.  At least with your caste system it is more about having the extras, the luxuries of life as opposed to lacking the necessities…at least the inherent side of it. What penalties humans add to the inherent ones are up to them, it doesn’t have to be tremendously imbalanced though, especially if we manage to promote a society where success is measured by how much one can contribute to others’ lives rather than wealth and power. 

Edited by Calm
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14 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

So I've been doing some reading lately on in-vitro gametogenesis. For a brief intro read here: https://www.freethink.com/series/future-of-fertility/ivg-in-vitro-gametogenesis. The basic principle is that, using skin cells, we are on the way to creating artificial gametes. These gametes have, in one experiment, become mouse embryos which were successfully born. Creation of viable human gametes is not here yet, but you know how these things go. Could be here any day now. 

This technology, if advanced, would do many things. It would eliminate the need for sexual dimorphism - anybody with skin and money could make a baby. It would be possible for one person to provide the genetic material for both gametes. It would enable same-sex couples to conceive children with the genetic legacy of both donors. It could enable the creation of "designer babies" more efficiently than IVF could. It could potentially enable the creation of chimeric embryos with genetic material from more than 2 people. When coupled with artificial wombs, we're looking at a process straight out of Brave New World, where there is nothing resembling natural parenthood left in human reproduction at all. 

This raises a serious question: are the old-fashioned biological ways of being important for humanity? Is there something about the "given-ness" of our place in the world that demands our respect? Or should we feel free to alter the world to whatever degree technology allows? What does it mean to be human? The Catholics seem to have an answer. The social libertarians/progressives seem to as well (though I think it abhorrent and will not apologize for so saying.) What say you? 

For my part, I think the coming prospect of "designer babies" is horrific in just about every particular. I can't think of anything that would damage the commonality of the human family more, nor anything that would so entrench privilege. Nor can I imagine the effects which it would have on the children conceived in such a way. What would it even mean to be human anymore, when you have a caste of the selected children and the unselected children (as any children born by natural means would become)? Is the prospect of eradicating genetic disease worth it? This is even before you get in to the possibilities of whole populations mass-produced from synthetic gametes in artificial wombs, or technological implants and "enhancements" in already living humans. I can't celebrate this, it all just seems to me to be a grim enactment of Daedalus and Icarus. Is there a point where our quest for mastery over the world turns into rape? Is there a point where we should just accept Nature as it is and go Amish?  

That is the question I pose to you. Allow me to save some time by putting forward my rebuttal for a few responses I anticipate:

1. Yes, the world has kept turning after technological innovation before. Not like this, though. A person was still a person when they discarded bronze tools to embrace iron. This is the first time that we, humans beings ourselves, are the objects of the innovation. Indeed, that is part of what makes it so repellant - we are treated as objects to be fabricated and tinkered with. Pray tell, what kind of social attitudes will that create? How could that be just? Or are we just objects in the end? 

2. All Steven Pinker-esque apologia for the fruits of modern innovation will be responded to with a re-iteration of Point 1, perhaps with some variation in tone. 

3. "You could still choose to have kids the natural way!" In theory, yes, but in practice I expect that would devolve into castes of "selected" and "unselected", especially if we can evaluate embryos for specific traits. If selection of embryos proves useful at all, then all it would take is the resurgence of practical eugenics for it to become mandatory...for the common good, y'know? The nigh-certainty of the objectification and commodification of humanity, if this road is followed, is overwhelming. 

4. No, I don't expect the development of these technologies to stop, but I still think it's worthwhile to ask what we should do in response to them. 

 

I think that technologies, like intelligence, apply to the kingdom suited for them and which uses them accordingly. As with anything else, the Lord will sort it out in the end in the kingdoms to follow. Mortal intellect and wisdom will be supplanted.

I don't think the Lord holds how children get into this world against them but does hold the parents accountable.

As people of the covenant, we consider and keep it in handling all aspects of life, even when we differ in judgement and debate over such considerations. The Church Handbook already addresses reproductive biotechnologies, and this topic seems similar in principle (advise to follow the Adam and Eve pattern, and by exception through prayer and counsel with priesthood leaders).

From my observation, the Church stays at least 30 years ahead in projecting technological advances, not so much for the ethical ramifications but for the ramifications on the saints being challenged to keep their covenants (even more than the moral ramifications).

Edited by CV75
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7 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

I think that we need to have an open discussion about this. This sort of technology is going to be really important in some areas - after all, being able to produce certain types of cells from other cells means that we can eliminate much of the current ethical debate over the question of stem-cell use and production. At the same time, this technology has some real application in terms of population health (which overlaps with the idea of designer babies). Using this technology, we can use a couple's genetic material to create a fetus but choose only those sex cells that don't have a particular dangerous (or even deadly) gene. We could edit certain hereditary illnesses out of existence (like cystic fibrosis).

That said, there are two real concerns in my mind -

First, there is a lot of potential value in designing children. But the technology will not necessarily be made available to everyone. We already have terrible inequality in our world and in the human population. Such technology could create a new inequality that could potentially dwarf other inequalities that we already experience. After all, why bribe university employees to get your kids into that special school when you can create the genius child? This will be problematic - if we are so concerned over a transgender student athlete, how will we discuss fairness when a child has been genetically engineered for competition?

Second, because of this value, the question isn't about whether we see this being used, it's about when it happens - and we need to (as a society - and perhaps even as a global society) decide how we want to deal with this issue before it happens - how we want to deal with the children who have had their genes edited. What sorts of ethical lines do we want to establish. And, how do we want to enforce (or encourage) those lines.

Plus, the likely horrific mistakes and unintended negative consequences along the way, whether by intent or in ignorance or a combination of both.

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"Death shall all but be banished from the earth, for men shall live until they are the age of a tree or one hundred years old (See [D&C] 63:50–51), and then shall die at the age of man, but this death shall come in the twinkling of an eye and mortality shall give way to immortality suddenly."

The elimination of genetic disease, aging, cancers, mental instabilities-- these are all good things. The elimination of social inequities would also be good. If the two can go hand in hand, then we have the Millennium. I don't see anything to fear in that prospect. And quite frankly, I don't worry about designer children nearly as much as I worry about dying children, abused children, or children being raised on a steady diet of nihilism.

If science can find a way to create children with genetically healthy bodies, more power to it. Obviously the path to that goal needs to be tread carefully, ethically and morally, but not, I think with fear.

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2 hours ago, Emily said:

 

The elimination of genetic disease, aging, cancers, mental instabilities-- these are all good things. The elimination of social inequities would also be good. If the two can go hand in hand, then we have the Millennium. I don't see anything to fear in that prospect. And quite frankly, I don't worry about designer children nearly as much as I worry about dying children, abused children, or children being raised on a steady diet of nihilism.

The two won't go hand in hand, that is precisely the problem. The critical factor that makes the Millennium coherent is that God will oversee it, and the social and material changes will be done under His ordination. That is not the case with this...thing we are setting in motion.

You speak of being worried about children being raised on a steady diet of nihilism. I am also deeply worried about this. My problem is that I think nihilism is exactly what we will get with designer babies. Treating children like a product, commodifying them, marketing them.  We lose reverence for that which we control. What happens when we can custom-order people? When we can design them like video-game characters? What happens when humans are products? Do you really think that mere sentiment will hold back that worldview?  

It has failed before.

Edited by OGHoosier
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3 hours ago, Calm said:

I added a thought that is I think relevant. I will repeat it here with a bit more detail. 
 

I think you are missing a crucial point and that is health creates a caste system in and of itself, this is also massively multiplied by financial hardships and limited education, which then makes financial independence and getting decent educational opportunities harder.  At least with your caste system it is more about having the extras, the luxuries of life as opposed to lacking the necessities…at least the inherent side of it. What penalties humans add to the inherent ones are up to them, it doesn’t have to be tremendously imbalanced though, especially if we manage to promote a society where success is measured by how much one can contribute to others’ lives rather than wealth and power. 

Thank you for elaborating. 

I have considered your thought for the past couple of hours. I will not dispute your point about the natural caste system created by health disparities. However, it appears that you have dramatically more faith in the ability of mankind to control itself than I do (not hard to have more than 0). We are notoriously bad at keeping technological genies in the bottle once we have invented them. Gene-editing technology cannot truly "end" genetic disease unless it is universal, because not all genetic diseases are heritable. So natural childrearing is ruled right out, or at least will be socially condemned as cruel. I have 0 confidence that the use of this technology will be constrained to preventing disease. Absolutely none. And I think the ramifications of what we will do with it are absolutely enormous and frankly outstrip caste systems. The awful enormity of what it means to be able to engineer another human being to specifications is so weighty, so all-encompassing, so utterly reductive of the reverence for mankind that underlies all right conduct...this genie cannot be let out. Caste systems are the least of what is to come. 

Unless we can figure out something to do about it, because nothing short of divine bombardment will constrain the "advance of science." 

Edited by OGHoosier
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5 hours ago, Calm said:

As someone with a minor genetic disease that has still messed up my life royally and postponed my dreams until the next life and reduced most days to the four walls of my bedroom and worse seen my daughter not even be able to attend school after 6th grade and reducing her days to teeth gritting through pain and nausea and also as someone who is so looking forward to the major dementia of my great grandmother, grandmother and mother (here’s hoping I take after my dad’s side with this), I think there is a greater need to cure disease. Letting people suffer pain, mental and emotional damage and deterioration when we can stop it is as immoral, if not more immoral as any caste system.

Health creates a caste system in the world right now, haves and have nots. A caste system that is not forced upon us, but chosen can be more easily overcome than one we have no choice but to live with. 

The dangers are real, but we also pramatically invented human rights when we needed the concept.  Civil rights are still advancing, and in church too.

I suspect we might actually rise to the occasion - we are dealing somewhat with global warming, abortion is still a toss up, but these issues are not going away.

I'm optimistic 

 

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Reminds me of "gain of function", not enough people seem to ask what could go wrong.

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On 11/17/2022 at 6:28 PM, OGHoosier said:

The critical factor that makes the Millennium coherent is that God will oversee it, and the social and material changes will be done under His ordination.

Here is where I think we diverge. I don't think God will come to Earth and create the utopia of the millinneum. I think the righteous mortals left on the earth after the winnowing events of the last days will create the utopia and welcome their King. 

Until we can present Christ with a world that is capable of receiving him...I don't there can be a millinneum.

 

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2 minutes ago, Emily said:

Here is where I think we diverge. I don't think God will come to Earth and create the utopia of the millinneum. I think the righteous mortals left on the earth after the winnowing events of the last days will create the utopia and welcome their King. 

Until we can present Christ with a world that is capable of receiving him...I don't there can be a millinneum.

 

That's an interesting interpretation, not one that I've encountered before, but I'm open to it.

I have to ask though: isn't that the same thing? Will not the righteous of the Earth organize themselves according to the Lord's principles? 

Either way that population isn't here now. But maybe the two steps back of putting godlike technology in the hands of unscrupulous and scheming men is necessary for the three steps forward of actually becoming godlike. I still think this is going to turn out badly though.

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On 11/17/2022 at 8:33 AM, OGHoosier said:

This raises a serious question: are the old-fashioned biological ways of being important for humanity? Is there something about the "given-ness" of our place in the world that demands our respect? Or should we feel free to alter the world to whatever degree technology allows? What does it mean to be human? The Catholics seem to have an answer. The social libertarians/progressives seem to as well (though I think it abhorrent and will not apologize for so saying.) What say you? 

What do you think the Catholics answer is?  What is the abhorrent view of the "social libertarians/progressives?"

It sounds to me like you're missing something in your thought process. Like, for instance, you seem to be presuming that people who are pro-choice don't have families or love people.

(Sidenote: one of the most opinionated pro-choice people I know is a very engaged mother of four children and was the surrogate for her friend whose uterus can't support pregnancies. Since the embryo wasn't hers genetically, she had to take medication to prevent her body rejecting it and endured a very difficult nine months. Now that child is in elementary school. This woman also spent many years carrying for at risk youth and now works in the medical field as a paramedic.) The point is that she is pro-choice and she cares about life. Her life is an embodiment of caring for others.

I say this because of the theme throughout your whole OP. You interpret genetic modification as objectification. Basically you're taking viewpoints you don't agree with and generalizing about them based on a worse possible interpretation of them.

I work in hospitality on the weekends and the financial industry during the week. This gives me pretty fascinating windows into people's lives. I speak to people reporting the death of their loved ones, to people trying to secure their family's future, to people caring for a vulnerable person. I then also serve food to people. Families out for a meal, people on first dates, parents meeting up with their uni student, clubs for bereaved spouses helping each other split the bill, work colleagues, bachelor parties, etc... And this in a tourist hotspot that hosts people from all over the world. 

What I observe is that there is a whole lot of love in the world.

You speak of your concern for youth being fed a diet of nihilism. I think that's a valid concern but I would caution you. An unhealthy balance of any perspective can result in a nihilistic viewpoint. We whose lives have been immersed in Mormonism have our fair share of people who conclude major things in life are pointless because of what they believe will happen after death. Nihilism can come from many places including tradition.

I think the biggest cause of steady nihilism would be a broken system. A system which makes promises it never delivers can really demoralize. People working day in day out and not being able to afford to live--thats demoralizing and that can make life feel pointless. Families who "succeed" at going to the temple but are not happy together--that can make eternal families feel pointless. 

You have to remember that popular culture is only a sliver of an individual's life and is not the sum total. Popular culture or media is not representative of "the world." It is a mass collection of content that people consume during their lives which are already rich in context.

I think a good gut check in discussions like this is to be mindful that people tend to have families and to care about other people. Imagine genetic modification in that context and you'll have a fuller picture and possibly a more productive thought experiment.

 

 

 

On 11/17/2022 at 8:33 AM, OGHoosier said:

 

Love the movie and the book.

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6 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Like, for instance, you seem to be presuming that people who are pro-choice don't have families or love people.

Where are you getting this? I never said this. I'll thank you not to caricature my views. 

6 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

I say this because of the theme throughout your whole OP. You interpret genetic modification as objectification. Basically you're taking viewpoints you don't agree with and generalizing about them based on a worse possible interpretation of them.

Because it is objectifying. It turns people into something we can construct according to our desires. It turns people into a product. That people will love the people they customized doesn't change that (not that I even accept that it's that simple). Nor will it change the impacts on society once the genetic tailoring of human beings to our intents and whims becomes mainstream. The first thing we'll do is eliminate what diseases we can. But personality traits cause problems too, don't they? Do you think it's fine if we start "fixing" those? If tampering with a human being's genetic code becomes an acceptable way to solve problems, then in what way are we truly free? I just cannot accept the sort of mindset which thinks that these radical changes will not have butterfly effects that we neither desire nor anticipate.

6 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

You speak of your concern for youth being fed a diet of nihilism. I think that's a valid concern but I would caution you. An unhealthy balance of any perspective can result in a nihilistic viewpoint. We whose lives have been immersed in Mormonism have our fair share of people who conclude major things in life are pointless because of what they believe will happen after death. Nihilism can come from many places including tradition.

I think the biggest cause of steady nihilism would be a broken system. A system which makes promises it never delivers can really demoralize. People working day in day out and not being able to afford to live--thats demoralizing and that can make life feel pointless. Families who "succeed" at going to the temple but are not happy together--that can make eternal families feel pointless. 

You have to remember that popular culture is only a sliver of an individual's life and is not the sum total. Popular culture or media is not representative of "the world." It is a mass collection of content that people consume during their lives which are already rich in context.

I'm not gonna lie to you, this looks like a three-paragraph deflection. "The real problem is over here" does nothing to deal with the original problem in the first place. Saying that broken systems create nihilism does nothing to prevent another system from causing it as well. 

6 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

You have to remember that popular culture is only a sliver of an individual's life and is not the sum total. Popular culture or media is not representative of "the world." It is a mass collection of content that people consume during their lives which are already rich in context.

And I will return that popular culture goes a long way in shaping that context. Plus artistic works offer trenchant critiques of the world all the time. I don't really get what the point of this criticism is. 

6 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

I think a good gut check in discussions like this is to be mindful that people tend to have families and to care about other people. Imagine genetic modification in that context and you'll have a fuller picture and possibly a more productive thought experiment.

I've already taken this into account. And I've concluded that the love which will exist in families will not protect against the ultimate objectification of mankind, because the argument to continue the objectification apace will be framed in terms of love. So long as love is the god of our society (pay no mind to the semantic tussle behind the curtain), it will be the principle used to justify just about everything - and therefore will defend against nothing. 

Love is socially and linguistically constructed. The wildness of nature and mankind's essential sui generis uniqueness is not, and represents one of the last real pillars which ground our lives outside of social control. Getting rid of it is a bad thing. 

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10 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

If tampering with a human being's genetic code becomes an acceptable way to solve problems, then in what way are we truly free? I just cannot accept the sort of mindset which thinks that these radical changes will not have butterfly effects that we neither desire nor anticipate.

If we can be controlled by intentional genetic programing to the point of not being free, doesn’t that imply all genetic programming, whether chosen by someone or random, renders us not truly free?  Does it really matter if it is consciously imposed on us or a result of nature?

I am not saying this to justify guided genetic programming, I just don’t see much value in this as a general argument against it.  I can see some more specific versions are being useful.

Edited by Calm
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On 11/17/2022 at 10:44 PM, gav said:

Reminds me of "gain of function", not enough people seem to ask what could go wrong.

This is all hypotheticals. The people who make the decisions are unlikely to be burdened with the ability to self-reflect.

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