There are a number of false memes that have followers and influence in the world. The one that concerns us here is the fantasy of the Mad scientist. We’ve written about this a few times before — see, e.g.: Mad Scientist or Mad Creationist? As we said there:
We’re all familiar with the literary cliché of the Mad scientist. For two centuries, from Victor Frankenstein to Dr. Strangelove, the public has been exposed to a number of characters who explore things that “man was not meant to know.” They often seek world domination.
The problem is that one has ever met such a scientist in real life. If you know of one, we’d like to hear about it. On the other hand, dangerously depraved behavior is all too common among those who imagine that they’re on a divine mission.
But with all the genuinely insane and truly dangerous people running around in the world, the myth of the mad scientist is the one that persists in literature. Why? Think about it.
Then, in The Discoveroids and Frankenstein’s Monster, we said:
Ever since the 1818 publication of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, we’ve seen frightened people and their preachers screaming about scientists who dare to “play God” by meddling in the unknown, experimenting in their infernal la-BOR-a-tories, and attempting things that man was not meant to know! And here we see the Discoveroids feeding the fears of the ignorant, playing the role of science censors, and longing for the power to launch a new Inquisition.
And recently, in The Discoveroids and Human Cloning, we said:
The creationist objection to human cloning is just another example of the ancient fear of man trespassing on things that are the domain of the gods. It’s “scientists playing god.” It goes back to the Tower of Babel. A more modern version is when Dr. Frankenstein “went too far” and created his monster. To the simple mind, there are “things man was not meant to know.” The humorous flip-side of this is when a creationist tries to play scientist.
Okay, that was a long but necessary introduction. Now let’s talk about the latest post at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog: Frankenstein 200 Years Later: Have We Heeded the Warning?
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! What a title! What “warning” are they talking about? What about the warnings in Alice in Wonderland or Pandora’s Box? The post was written by Discovery Institute “fellow” Richard Weikart, author of From Darwin to Hitler, so he’s no stranger to fairy tales. We consider him to be the intellectual godfather of the Discoveroids’ frequently-repeated malicious mantra: “No Darwin, no Hitler.” Here are some excerpts from his post, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Two hundred years ago this month Mary Shelley published her famous novel, Frankenstein. It warned against the possible horrors that could come about through our scientific hubris. In the novel the scientist Victor Frankenstein worked diligently two years to bring life to a dead body. He succeeded, which should have caused him to celebrate. Instead, he was revolted by his creation.
Take heed, scientists, or you too will regret your godless works! Then he says:
Biotechnology has brought us many good things, such as medical therapies that regenerate damaged tissues. However, it has also brought us techniques that seem more troubling, such as cloning.
Frankenstein, of course, had the best of intentions. He foresaw nothing but happiness and bliss, once he had mastered the technique of animating dead bodies. While working on his experiment, he exulted, “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me.”
His utopian vision evaporated, however, once his creature came to life. He quickly recognized his tragic mistake. He admitted, “now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.”
Poor Dr. Frankenstein. He learned his lesson, but it was too late! And what was that lesson? Weikart explains:
Shelley seems to be reminding us that raw scientific pursuit, carried on without love and without considering our moral responsibilities, may come back to haunt us. It may even destroy us.
[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] Weikart ends his post with this:
Shelley’s novel still resonates today. It sells over 50,000 copies per year in the U.S. However, maybe the reason it is still so popular is because we are still terrified by the prospects of technology run amok. Are scientists today still so concerned about advancing knowledge that they ignore the consequences for humanity? Are they so focused on knowledge that they forget about love? Perhaps we still need Shelley’s novel as a reminder.
Well, dear reader, will you heed the warning? Or, like Dr. Frankenstein, will you peruse your godless work to its inevitable end?
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