Last night was the final meeting of our God, Sex, and the Culture War series. We were privileged to have Dr. E. David Cook as our plenary speaker. David is Director of the Whitefield Institute in Oxford and Holmes Professor of Faith and Learning at Wheaton College. I told David last night that he is the William Wallace of bioethics (Scotsmen appreciate being compared to Braveheart). His courage, encyclopedic knowledge, clarity, humor, and wit are downright infectious, such that I would like this week’s blog entry to direct our thinking toward the critical topic of sanctity of life. Thanks David.
In January 1998, renegade scientist Dr. Richard Seed (1929 –) announced his plans to clone a human being. A physicist by training, Seed turned to fertility technologies in the 1980s and has since become a vocal proponent of human cloning. One of the motivations for cloning, he says, is to advance medical knowledge and cure diseases. But as Seed acknowledges with a chilling candor, he has another goal as well—one more sweeping and infinitely more dangerous. He writes:
“God made man in his own image. God intended for man to become one with God. We are going to become one with God. We are going to have almost as much knowledge and almost as much power as God. Cloning and the reprogramming of DNA is the first serious step in becoming one with God—very simple philosophy.1”
Dr. Seed sounds to me like a Mormon who has read too much Voltaire. Of course this is not the first time in history that such an audacious (indeed idolatrous) statement has been made. It says in Genesis 11:4, “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves.’” Dr. Seed’s agenda can be summarized with these words: “Making a name for ourselves.”
Let’s look beneath DNA reprogramming to the motivation behind such an enterprise—the desire to be like God. Are we humans so terribly self absorbed that making a name for ourselves is the height of our ambition—the pinnacle of life’s purpose? Can we not ascend above the horizon of human progress and grasp something greater than ourselves, even God?
The answer is yes; indeed this is the good news. God delights in elevating humans above the hopeless altitude of human idolatry. According to God’s great promises, in his Son Jesus, we “may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Pet. 1:4). This occurs not by engineering life in the image of man, but by aggressively reflecting into the world the image of Christ.
1 Richard Seed, interview by Joe Palca, All Things Considered, National Public Radio, January 6, 1998.