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Whence Wither? Here.

November 6th, 2005 | 2 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

A friend pointed out this article in the San Francisco Chronicle by Discovery Institute member Wesley Smith. In it, he looks "into the crystal ball about the controversies that can be expected to roil society over issues of science and biotech in coming years."

The article is a great summary of the hot button issues, and it's enough to justify C.S. Lewis' position as 'cultural prophet,' whether you agree with Lewis or not. Some of the quotes are enough to give readers familiar with Lewis' scientific fairy-tale That Hideous Strength or the corresponding Abolition of Man chills:

Princeton biologist Lee Silver believes fervently, as described in "Remaking Eden," that the wonders of human redesign will eventually lead to a "special point" where our posterity will create themselves into a "special group of mental beings who "are as different from humans as humans are from primitive worms. ...'Intelligence' will "not do justice to their cognitive abilities. 'Knowledge' does not explain the depth of their understanding. ...'Power' is not strong enough to describe the control they have over technologies that can be used to shape the universe in which they live."

"By the end of the 21st century," writes Reason magazine science editor Ronald Bailey in his book "Liberation Biology," "the typical American may attend a family reunion in which five generations are playing together. And great-great-great grandma, at 150 years old, will be as vital ... as her 30-year-old great-great grandson with whom she's playing touch football."

How all of this will turn out, nobody knows. But as Leon Kass, former chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics, has said: "All of the natural boundaries are up for grabs. All of the boundaries that have defined us as human beings, boundaries between a human being and an animal on one side and between a human being and a super human being or a god on the other. The boundaries of life, the boundaries of death. These are the questions of the 21st century, and nothing could be more important."

The central question: "Who decides?"

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.