A thought-provoking piece
on germ-line therapy appeared in today's issue of The (Melbourne) Age.
Bill McKibben's article is based upon his forthcoming book, the apocalyptically entitled, Enough: Genetic Engineering and the end of Human Nature
, and ends with this paragraph: "Right now our technology is advanced enough to make us comfortable, but not so advanced that it has become us. We have enough insight from Darwin and Freud and Watson and Crick to allow us to understand some of what drives us, but we’re not yet completely reduced to hardware. We have Prozac for the incapacitated and pain-ridden, but it’s not encoded in our genes. We have enough medicine to give most of us a good shot at a long life, but not so much as to turn us into robots. We are suspended somewhere between the prehistoric and the Promethean. Closer to the Promethean. Close enough." McKibben's argument, which relies to a considerable degree on assumptions about our shared understanding of the notion of "human nature," reminds me of the position of Dr. Leon Kass, chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics
, whose most recent book, The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis
, was reviewed
quite respectfully in yesterday's New York Times