This news is a bit odd, but we have a reaction from the Discovery Institute, so you’ll find it amusing. First, here’s the news from PhysOrg. Their headline is Second successful human-animal hybrid: sheep embryo with human cells. They say, with our bold font:
Carrying forward the results of a team that created a pig/human hybrid last year, a team led by researchers at Stanford University has created a sheep/human hybrid. … As with the team last year, the current researchers say the purpose of creating the human-animal hybrid was to find out if it might be possible to grow human organs in animals to replace defective ones in humans. Such patients would not reject the organs, because the cells used to create them would be their own. The researchers used a sheep in their experiments because its organs are roughly the same size as humans and because in vitro fertilization of sheep is easier than pigs.
The researchers noted that in their work, just 0.01 percent of the cells in the sheep embryo were human, the rest were native sheep cells. Much more than that would be required to actually grow an organ, perhaps as much as 1 percent. The embryos were also not allowed to mature into adults—they were killed after growing for 28 days.
Now for the Discoveroids’ reaction. They posted Hybrid Sheep-Human Embryos Show Need for Biotech Regulation. It was written by Wesley J. Smith, a Discoveroid “Senior Fellow” and a lawyer. His specialty is “Human Exceptionalism,” which is Discoveroid code for “In His Image.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Biotech is rocketing forward into areas that impact life at the most fundamental and basic levels. CRISPR permits any cell or life form to be genetically altered, opening the door to the intelligent (or stupid) redesign of the human species, the ending of terrible diseases, or the unleashing by terrorists of an altered viral pandemic.
Gasp! They’re doing things that man was not meant to do! Wesley tells us:
Scientists have created synthetic life not based in evolution or creation. Human cloning is being done. A recent monkey success reveals the potential of the birth of the first cloned baby.
Egad — there’s no end to it! They’re transgressing on the work of the intelligent designer — blessed be he! Wesley quotes from a story in National Geographic that says they’re doing it as a source for organ transplants, and then he declares:
[T]here is a very real concern here that scientists could manufacture an animal that has a partial human nature, say the capacity for rationality. That would be an ethical nightmare on several fronts.
The point I keep trying to make isn’t that we should shut down all of this research, but that we need to have an intense discussion about how to best ensure it doesn’t wander into unethical fields. More than that, we need to decide what would be unethical.
Yes — oh yes! — scientists need the Discoveroids’ wise and benevolent guidance. This is the rest of Wesley’s post:
But currently, beyond some voluntary guidelines and public funding restrictions, there is little to prevent a real life Dr. Moreau from going to work — particularly in China. We really do need to have a serious democratic discussion about biotechnology, AI, and other such fast-advancing research. Time is growing short.
No doubt, the scientists engaged in this research will be reaching out to the Discoveroids for their wisdom. It’s the only thing that makes any sense.
Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.