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RC Church Says Hybrid Embryos are Human

America Blog commentary:

Human-animal hybrid embryos conceived in the laboratory - so-called "chimeras" - should be regarded as human and their mothers should be allowed to give birth to them, the Roman Catholic Church said yesterday.

Under draft Government legislation to be debated by Parliament later this year, scientists will be given permission for the first time to create such embryos for research as long as they destroy them within two weeks.

But the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, in a submission to the Parliamentary joint committee scrutinising the draft legislation, said that the genetic mothers of "chimeras" should be able to raise them as their own children if they wished.

The bishops said that they did not see why these "interspecies" embryos should be treated any differently than others.

What a mess. This is what happens when technology gets ahead of ethics.

I've got mixed feelings on this, but clearly there is a genetic definition of a human being, and these chimera do not meet that definition. But maybe we need to ask ourselves whether or not this sort of Frankenstein science is the way we want to go. And if it is, we as a society need to realize that clusters of cells no bigger than a pinhead are NOT equal to a living human being. Until we're ready to come to a consensus on that, we will continue to get bizarre declarations such as this.


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Comments (15)

U.P. Man:

Why do you say that they are not human?

These are yet to be realized creatures, if they are intelligent and self-aware why would they not be human?

You declare them not human without knowing a thing about them. Are you anti-science living in your backwards ignorant view?

Paul Hamilton:

They aren't human because genetically, they are a hybrid of human and something else. And lots of creatures are intelligent and self-aware -- just ask my dogs... :)

As I said in the posting, this is a clear case of science getting ahead of ethics. These chimera are in a grey area and we really do need to define them legally to determine if they have human rights, but once again, I see a firestorm here more than a rational discussion.

U.P. Man:

What percentage of a DNA make up does such a creature need to have to be Human? 51% or 99.999%?

Embryonic Stem Research "this is a clear case of science getting ahead of ethics."

Is there a difference?

Once again this old fashioned conservative is choosing the progressive stance of Life.

Paul Hamilton:

90% human could be a chimpanzee... The genome is very similar.

But we know that these are not human because we know their makeup since they were created in the lab.

bryanD:

Creepeee! Of course, the potentiality of humanity is EVERYTHING, otherwise, what is this post about??? (d'uh!)
Kind of a reverse one-drop rule (see Dredd Scott).

U.P. Man:

90% makes a chimp? is that 90% from a human? Is that 90% in the exact same order?

Yugo's have 90% of what makes a Rolls a Royce a Rolls Royce but it is still a car.

I still want to know, how is this in your opinion science getting ahead of ethics but ESCR isn't?

Also, right now we are having a discussion there is no firestorm of emotions but, you still haven't provided back-up for your statement that they wouldn't be human.

If we where to make Chimera, and the only thing to change from the Human DNA was to give the creature the eye of an Eagle, would it be Human?

If we where to make Chimera, and the only thing to change from the Human DNA was to give the creature the muscles of an gorilla, would it be Human?

If we where to make Chimera, and the only thing to change from the Human DNA was to give the creature the ability to hybernate, would it be Human?

Paul Hamilton:

I was surprised that UP said:
>>Yugo's have 90% of what makes a Rolls a Royce a Rolls Royce but it is still a car.

Well, that's true. But I'm surprised that a conservative would acknowledge that chimps and humans are both animals, just as a Rolls and a Yugo, are both cars. The reason that all the genetic manipulation works at all is because of our many similarities across species.

>>Human DNA was to give the creature the eye of an Eagle, would it be Human?

I find it interesting that you are capitalizing the "H" there, but more to the point, it might be "human 2.0" but it would not be a human as we now know it because the genetics are different.

The tricky part of all this is that there really are two ways to define humanity -- the scientific, which looks at the components, and the philosophical, which looks at the intellectual and spiritual. By the latter definition, we could have the proverbial little green man drop in on his fliying saucer, and since he would be intelligent and likely have some sort of spirituality, HE would be "human" as well. That's why I prefer the scientific method...

U.P. Man:

Humans are animals but being an animal does not make you human.(no capital H hAppy)

Cats are animals, but not human. Some animals may have human characteristics, but most of those are our own projection of our characteristics.

Why is it surprising that I know humans and chimps are animals? Prejudice on your part?

Leave space aliens out it, best that can lead to is straw man arguments.

You say that a creature with all the DNA of human but the DNA for eagle eyes is Human 2.0, That would still be human would it not?

Again, I the bad old conservative is taking the side of life.


Paul Hamilton:

Okay, so we can avoid straw men, please give me a workable definition of "human."

U.P. Man:

That's tough.....and I am not sure I can give a real good definition of what is a human.

Loosely, they would have to have same basic physical shape and size. (Bearing in mind the wide variety of shape and size of today).
Have all body organs.(Once again bearing in mind today diversity and taking into account disfigurement and birth defects)
Around the same level of IQ, (remember the vast range of IQ)
The ability to tell right from wrong. (Not because of remembered punishments).A basic God given morality. (Let's not get into this discussion at this time)

You seem to be able to define what is not.

Paul Hamilton:

It really is a tough question. I note that you added a "God-given" characteristic as an element of humanity. And lots of folks would define a human as a creature which has the image of God. For me, that's a SPIRITUAL distinction rather than a physical one, but that just adds one more wild card to the deck.

And because of all these wild cards, I still prefer to differentiate humans from other creatures by their distinctive genetic makeup, at least within the confines of discussions like this one.

BTW, this is off-topic, but I have the spiritual belief that if God is who he claims he is, then creatures from all across the universe, with any physical form (or even without physical form) could still be given the image of God if they were spiritually-aware. That's another reason I brought up the little green man thing...

U.P. Man:

Okay, you would not consider them human.

I got to bring this up, was Andrea the Giant or "little people"(sorry I don't recall the current proper name or a famous person at this time) from "Wizard of Oz" human?

What about albino's?

All those groups would fall outside of the norm.

I doubt Andrea the Giant could have mated with any of the female "munchkins".

What about the people that take part in freak shows? Are they human?

What about test tube babies? Are they human?

I think you are defining human being to narrowly, when you state that a Chimera is not human. At least RCC is looking ahead at possible future ethical cases. They are also erring on the side of life.

Paul Hamilton:

Andre the Giant and Michael J. Anderson -- my favorite little person, best known for his roles in Twin Peaks and Carnivale -- are both genetically human. They may have had some chromosomal or hormonal problem which made them different in *appearance,* but at the fundamental genetic level, they are 100% human.

And remember that I made that definition just for the purposes of discussions like this. Humanity is perhaps only a very small part of "higher life," which may take many forms, but has self-awareness, intelligence and probably some aspect of spirituality in common. By that definition, this chimera could very well be human. Or maybe it will just be a complete mess that would not be able to survive past birth. The people who are creating these hybrid life forms do not take that into consideration. And that is yet another issue which deserves consideration...

So my mind is open on this, believe me. It's just that there are so many aspects to the issue that I'm nowhere near coming to any final conclusion about it.

U.P. Man:

Which is why ESCR and this hybridizing are wrong.

To treat that which is Human as anything less than Human is wrong.

Not to be an ass, but if the hybrid doesn't survive till birth why would a liberal care? It isn't alive, it isn't a person.

Once again I point out that the Conservative side is taking the side of life.

Paul Hamilton:

Well, THIS liberal cares because I believe that human life has inherent value. And that is why this whole issue is so complex...

You have to decide when life begins, what makes a human a human, whether it's proper to create a life form that would exist for the sole purpose of becoming spare parts for another life form, etc. etc, etc....

There are simply no easy answers and yet the loudest political voices are the ones who DO treat the issue simplistically.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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