Gene-edited Babies: Against Natural Evolution and Free Will

6 min read 

But men never violate the laws of God without suffering the consequences sooner or later. – Lydia M. Child

Dressed up in a neat light blue shirt, He Jiankui, the maker of the twin gene-edited babies, has the look of a composed, sober-faced scientist, with eyes of longing and expectations for the entirety of mankind, sparkling with the determination to shoulder the potential risks in decades to come. He might be a science maniac, but clearly not a malevolent one.

He Jiankui (Washington Post)

A simple gene surgery to prevent AIDS, sounds a lot like a Sci-Fi movie. Whether these two babies, the “guinea pigs”, will grow up to be healthy and unmarred by their pre-natal modification is still unknown. He says he will be responsible for these babies for the rest of his life.

All scientists are bound by their own preexisting beliefs and view of the world. From an ethical perspective, the application of gene editing deprives the babies of their free will to decide what they can and cannot have. The parents will be able to single-handedly decide what’s best for their babies, whether they are short or tall, whether they should have freckles, red hair or a round nose. Genes, instead of being god’s gifts and intentions, become a little jigsaw puzzle that can be put together however one pleases, which is a terrifying thought.

Picture some 30 years later, when cancer is no longer a stumbling block to human longevity, when artificial intelligence has replaced repetitive low-end labor, how will humans continue to fulfill their endless desires for themselves?

Blade Runner 2049 — Is artificial creation against God’s will?

In Blade Runner 2049, the hero K was on a mission to wipe out all of last generation’s replicants, a form of bio-engineered humans, who had been deprived of their reproductive capabilities.

Replicants are born from a kind of sticky nutrient lotion, like a beautifully designed and crafted porcelain doll. They are implanted with human memories, but with much more advanced physical strength, healing and radiation-resistant powers.

The assassination journey then becomes a journey of self-retrieving. He met Deckard (played by Harrison Ford), the last generation’s Blade Runner, the person he thought was his biological father, when he began to question his own origins and the meaning of life.

K met Deckard (source: zhihu.com)

“To be born is to have a soul” In the end of the film, he is lying down on the stairs, feeling the falling snowflakes melting in his hand. Is the modified me with implanted memories still me?

K in the snow (source: coub.com)

This goes back to the ultimate proposition of human evolution: Should creation be natural or artificial?

IMDb: Blade Runner 2049

Gattaca — Perfection can be a curse.

There is an underlying beauty in the imperfection of natural growth, like the fallen leaves of the autumn wind, or the withering roses.

In the 1997 film Gattaca, Vincent, a boy with the ambition to travel the universe, was unfortunately born with a 99 percent probability of heart disorder and a life expectancy of 30.2 years. His parents put their faith in the hands of geneticists, finally giving birth to a genetically flawless brother of his. After a gene screening, it turns out that the boy of the carefully selected cells, the best sperm and egg, is eternally exempt from any major inheritable diseases.

Vincent, born with flawed genes (source: glasses-redefined.blogspot.com)

“We were just wondering if it’s good to leave a few things by chance?”
“The child is still you, simply the best of you. You could conceive naturally a thousand times and never get such a result.”

IMDb: Gattaca

X-Men — Mutant and proud

In the foreseeable future, gene editing, once put into unconstrained application, may lead to polarization of social hierarchy, another disability factor in addition to racial and social status discrimination. Inequality breeds discrimination, and discrimination creates social chaos. Those with edited genes, and those without may have all the reasons to hold grudges against each other. As narrated by Vincent in the movie Gattaca, “my real resume was in my cells.” Genoism marks a kind of discrimination that is unbound by laws and regulations.

In the X-men series, the mutants, who are blessed with the X-genes, have a hard time fitting into mainstream society. Mystique kept saying “mutant and proud”, as if they are the group being marginalized and oppressed, while in fact they are actually stronger and much more powerful.

Mystique (source: m.sohu.com)

Social disintegration occurs as Magneto forms a brotherhood to fight humans. Magneto cooperates with Hydra, an organisation with Nazi roots. Magneto lost his trust in mankind after being persecuted by Nazis as a child and grew up to believe X-men should rule over men.

Magneto (source: house.ettoday.net)

IMDb: X-Men: First Class  X-Men: Days of Future Past

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald — Pure blood theory

*SPOILER ALERT*

Speaking of Nazi affiliations, in the second film of the series, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Grindelwald had brought his “pure blood” theory into the extreme, which in reality is a reflection of Nazi antisemitism — in his mind, powerful wizards and witches should rule over the non-magic muggles and any measures taken to reach this goal (such as killing babies) are done “for the greater good”. During his final speech, he expressed his deep concerns about the future of the muggle world should they be left to their own devices, tanks, chariots and even atomic bombs.

Grindelwald (source: 知乎日报)

IMDb: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Devil Building Blocks — All maniacs are idealists

All maniacs are idealists, with the original intention to make changes to the world, regardless of the consequences.

Liu Cixin, Chinese Hugo Award winner and author of the Three-Body Problem, wrote a novel in 2000 named “Devil Building Blocks”. The plot resembles your typical Hollywood movie. Dr. Aola, the crazy genius scientist in the novel, started a DNA transformation project, in which she contributed some of her own genes to blend with cheetahs, lions, snakes, fishes or frogs. Initially she was an idealist bearing the intention of eliminating famine in Africa.

They want to create a soldier that is agile like a cheetah, fierce like a lion, cold like a serpent, cunning like a fox and loyal like a dog. She believes that from the perspectives of genetics, there is only one life on earth, different species are only the external manifestations of the same life. Sadly, the so-called “Creation” project ended with a hybrid massacre.

It reminds us of the lunatic in Venom, who use wanderers for experiments to make alien-human hybrids. He calls it the “Symbiote”.

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). As one of the seven deadly sins, greed often leads to degeneration. It’s no longer just power or wealth that the wickedness of greed falls upon, it is the idea that one can have a life with perfect conditions, a better one that will outrun the course of nature.

Humans should take their law from the earth; the earth follows the trail of heaven; the heaven follows the trail of tao; the law of the tao is its being what it is. The old teachings of ancient Chinese sage Lao Zi is probably the best answer.

Featured photo credit to Screenrant

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