Sunday, February 19, 2006

There is no stop button in the race for human re-engineering, etc

Excerpts of older science news articles from my backlog, with my comments bold and in square brackets.

There is no stop button in the race for human re-engineering: Science will soon give some of us the tools to make ourselves cleverer and stronger. What will it mean for our humanity? Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, January 30, 2006 ... The pace of development in four distinct disciplines - neuroscience, biotechnology such as genetics, computing and nanoscience - is such that many envisage dramatic breakthroughs in how we can modify ourselves, our physical and mental capabilities. We could live much longer and be much stronger and cleverer - even be much happier. .... The Washington Post journalist and author of Radical Evolution, Joel Garreau, argues that we are at a pivotal point in human development. Having directed our technological ingenuity on the world around us, human beings are now turning it on to their own bodies and minds. From here on in, we will have the tools to engineer our own evolution. To the real enthusiasts - they call themselves transhumanists - humanity is on the point of being liberated from its biology. In their advocacy of our "technological rights", they believe that human beings are on the brink of a huge leap in development, leaving behind the sick, quarrelsome, weak, fallible creatures we have been up to now. We will be, as their slogan goes, "better than well". This is the prospect that horrifies the so-called "bio-conservatives" such as Francis Fukuyama, who argues that transhumanism is the most dangerous ideology of our time. There are plenty who share his concerns, pointing out that the implications for human rights, indeed for our understanding of what it is to be human, are huge. ... [This "human re-engineering" or transhumanism is just the latest version of the Darwinist eugenics urge. On Darwinist principles we were cobbled together by a `blind watchmaker' (not created in the image of God - Gen 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6; Col 3:10), so there is no reason why we should not improve the `design'. ]

Closer to man than ape: DNA study supports call to reclassify chimpanzees, 'Historic differences' may not be so great, tests find, The Guardian, Ian Sample, January 24, 2006 They already use basic tools, have rudimentary language and star in TV commercials, but now scientists have proof that chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than other great apes. Genetic tests comparing DNA from humans, chimps, gorillas and orang-utans reveal striking similarities in the way chimps and humans evolve that set them apart from the others. The finding adds weight to a controversial proposal to scrap the long-used chimp genus "Pan" and reclassify the animals as members of the human family. ... The move drew derision. Roger Scruton, the moral philosopher, asked: "Do we really think that the jails of New Zealand should henceforth be filled with malicious chimpanzees? If not, by what right are they to be exempted from punishment?" ... [This is related to the above. According to the Darwinists we are just another species of ape, with no special rights over other animals. But it is scientifically simplistic to consider only chimps and humans genetic similarities, without considering their major genomic differences, namely "at least 10 large inversions and translocations and one chromosomal fusion have occurred since the two lineages diverged":

"Although humans and chimpanzees have rather similar chromosome numbers, 46 and 48, respectively, the arrangement of genes on chimpanzee chromosomes differs from that on human chromosomes. Only a small proportion of the chromosomes have identical banding patterns in the two species. The banding studies indicate that at least 10 large inversions and translocations and one chromosomal fusion have occurred since the two lineages diverged." (King M.-C. & Wilson A.C., "Evolution at Two Levels in Humans and Chimpanzees," Science, 11 April 1975, Vol. 188, pp.107-116, p.114)

Also, if chimps were deemed to have the same legal rights as humans, the they would also have to have the same legal responsibilities and, as Scruton pointed out, "the jails [would] be filled with malicious chimpanzees"!]

Scientists Force Evolution in the Lab, Robert Roy Britt, LiveScience, 2 February 2006 ... Scientists have forced a little evolution in the laboratory, controlling whether a caterpillar becomes green or black. The color of the critter was made to vary with temperature during their development. ... the researchers report in the Feb. 3 issue of the journal Science. The study was done on Manduca sexta, a caterpillar commonly called the tobacco hornworm. Its larvae are normally green. A related species, Manduca quinquemaculata, becomes black or green depending on temperature. The idea was to use similar temperature shocks to evolve a similar change in M. sexta. ... The scientists subjected the black mutants to temperatures above 83 degrees Fahrenheit, and over a few generations two types developed. One group turned green and the other didn't. ... None of this looks to be going anywhere in the sense of survival of the fittest. The black and green caterpillars will all grow up basically the same. "The adult moths are identical, and so there is no obvious basis for the kind of selective mating that might genetically isolate two groups and eventually lead to new species," Nijhout told LiveScience. Because the variations are based on temperatures, and thus in the wild would be dependent on seasons, the two types would tend to occur at different times of the year and may never meet in nature, he said. The next step, the researchers said, is to see if the variations do indeed occur in the wild. ... [A good (or bad) example of how evolutionists use the same word "evolution" to describe "the whole of reality" (Julian Huxley) and also the colour variation in a caterpillar (which is not "going anywhere in the sense of survival of the fittest" and may not even "occur in the wild")! I have added this to my "Problems of Evolution" book outline, PE 1.4.2. "Definition of `evolution' ... Trivial variation"]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

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