GMO GENIE Part 3 – Dominion Unshackled

Institutionalized slavery has existed in one form or another for thousands of years, and still exists in some Muslim countries today.  Slavery arises when men believe they have the right and/or are endowed with the moral authority to assert dominion over another human being.

Examples of slavery, or bondage, are widespread throughout both the old and new testaments.  Leviticus 25:39-46 lays out the specific rules for the treatment of gentile slaves and Jewish “bondservants”.   The scriptures are full of examples, rules, and warnings regarding the mistreatment of those in servitude by their “masters”.   Another scripture commonly used to support a theological basis for the subjugation of others is Genesis 9:25, where Noah, angered over the shameful actions of one of his own sons, exclaimed, “Cursed [be] Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” 

It should be noted that several Christian denominations and pseudo-Christian cults rationalized enslaving black skinned Africans on the false premise that dark skin is the proverbial “mark of Cain”, and that those who bore such a mark were cursed and deserved to be kept in bondage.  Of course this claim cannot be supported by any sound reading of the scripture.  In fact, the whole notion that Jesus was a blue-eyed auburn-haired “Aryan” is a purely European construct.  There is plenty of evidence suggesting that the Jews of Jesus day, and quite likely Jesus himself, although not “black” in the racial sense, likely had darker skin, darker eyes, and much darker (and shorter) hair than is commonly portrayed in Euro-centric art or Hollywood movies.

In the New Testament,  Paul’s letter to Philemon provides proof that Christian believers also owned slaves.  In fact, Paul’s letter revolves around the close relationship he forms with one of Philemon’s runaway slaves, a man named Onesimus.  But the fact that even Christians were slave owners does not mean that the scriptures, in principle, should be used to support the concept of slavery, or that the slave system is a biblical model we should follow.  Using the scriptures to support genetic engineering and the creation of new mixed-up life forms is like arguing that slavery, in principle, is permissible because although God set limits and rules, He did not specifically forbid the practice. In many instances, man has treated the natural world, not as a garden created by God that man has been directed to “dress and keep” [Gen. 2:15], but as a slave he is empowered to dominate.

Even though many of the founders of this nation were slave owners, no one in his right mind would argue that the U.S. Constitution, in principle, supports slavery.  Using the Bible to support the practice is equally absurd since the entire focus of the scriptures is not to provide man with the authority to practice unlimited dominion over other men, (or unlimited dominion over nature), but to point man to the Redeemer, the ONE who has the authority and power to free mankind from the “curse” of sin and death and rescue us from SPIRITUAL BONDAGE!

To this end, the Apostle Paul specifically tells Philemon to accept his former slave (Onesimus), a new Christian convert, as an equal.  “Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?”  [1:16]   Not only does Paul refer to Onesimus as a “brother”, but he also refers to him as “my son”. [vs.1:10]  For those who are in Christ Jesus there is no longer any division based on race or class distinction.

So how does this relate to GMO’s?  Well, in Great Britain researchers working through genetic engineering have created hybrids called “para-humans” or human-animal chimeras”.  Bioethicists (the so-called “theologians” of science) are debating over whether or not at some point such creations have a “soul”, or are deserving of the same human rights as the rest of us.  Many are warning that creating a new species of para-human for the purposes of scientific experimentation is immoral, on par, or even worse, than institutionalized slavery.

The precedent for altering the genetic make up of creation and/or abusing human life for the purposes of testing new products and/or experimentation is a GENIE that escaped from the bottle years ago.  The mapping of the human genome was completed in 2003 and immediately hailed as a triumph of progress.  Genetic engineering promised miraculous cures and immeasurable benefits.  Stem cell research became the new buzz word.  All moral restraint was cast aside as bio-tech companies such as SENOMYX began experimentation with cloned human fetal cells derived from abortions in order to test chemical flavor enhancers for potential use in a variety of consumer food products including Pepsi diet beverages and Nestle coffee creamers.   The University of Washington filled over 4,500 orders for these cloned aborted fetal cell lines in 2010 alone.   To some, dominion means there are absolutely no limits standing in the way of the advancement of science.

The emerging field of transhumanism was born out of the utopian potential promised by unshackled dominion over nature:  

“[Transhumanism] promotes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and evaluating the opportunities for enhancing the human condition and the human organism opened up by the advancement of technology.  Attention is given to both present technologies, like genetic engineering and information technology, and anticipated future ones, such as molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.”

http://www.nickbostrom.com/ethics/genetic.html

Credit: DNA Stockphoto/David Marchal

Researchers working on manipulation of the human genome use the same rationale that those working on GM crops use, namely that the promise of the betterment of mankind through genetic engineering outweighs any concerns that a few “mistakes” might be made along the way.  Indeed, wouldn’t it be wonderful to eradicate starvation or disease by genetically creating a new “super man” or a new “super food” in the laboratory?   Transhumanism promises its adherents that they will be able to (eventually) defeat the aging process, overcome death and disease, and ultimately eliminate “the effects of the curse”.   Transgenic plants are being created using the same “dominion” principle and false promises as the creation of transgenic humans.  New GM crops are advertised as having the power to defeat insect pests, “end starvation”, and provide unlimited and sustainable nutrition for the world’s growing population.  The belief that man can not only improve creation, but re-make it in his own image, is the driving force behind such genetic modifications.

The entire notion of the “advancement” of mankind is at play here.  In their misguided search to derive theological principles from the Bible to support genetic engineering, Dr. Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, and Jordan Ballor in a recent Cornwall newsletter, argue that dominion over nature trumps stewardship over creation.  Convinced of man’s righteousness (or at least his superiority) and the power to do as he will, such people have focused on the ability to manipulate the created order without regard to the One who created it.  However, when it comes to man’s ability to combine two or more distinct life forms and “create” something entirely new, or that never was, or that should never be, the scriptures are clear.  There is only one God, one Creator, and one supreme Judge of good and evil.

From the Institute for Creation Research comes the following insight:

April 26, 2013

Creation and the Sciences-

“So God created man in his own image, in   the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27) The first chapter of Genesis is the foundational chapter of the Bible and, therefore, of all true science. It is the great creation chapter, outlining the events of that first   week of time when “the heavens and the earth were finished, and. . . .   God ended his work which he had made” (Genesis 2:1-2). Despite the evolutionists, God is not creating or making anything in the world today (except for special miracles as recorded in Scripture) because all His work was finished in that primeval week. He is now engaged in the work of conserving, or saving, what He first created.

There are only three acts of special creation–that is, creation out of nothing except God’s omnipotent word–recorded in this chapter. His other works were those of  “making” or “forming” the created entities into complex, functioning systems.

His first creative act was to call into existence the space/mass/time cosmos. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). This is  the domain which we now study in the physical sciences. The second is the   domain of the life sciences. “God created . . . every living creature that moveth” (Genesis 1:21).   It is significant that the “life” principle required a second act of direct creation. It will thus never be possible to describe living systems   solely in terms of physics and chemistry.

The third act of creation was that of the image of God in man and woman. The study of human beings is the realm of the human sciences. Our bodies can be analyzed chemically and our living processes biologically, but human behavior can only really be understood in terms of our relation to God, whose image we share.

HMM

To arrogantly assume that man has the authority to manipulate and mistreat the very foundations of creation itself, to create, patent, and own new life forms, is something that cannot be pleasing to God.

“And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more.”  [Rev 18:11]

10 thoughts on “GMO GENIE Part 3 – Dominion Unshackled

  1. Daniel

    Helpful article. Mans playing with DNA might also point to his deluded mind that thinks he can somehow have life without God, that can create his own food and live independently from Him. More and more studies show how much more complicated DNA are than previously thought and mans playing with it is going to be shown to be a waste of time and worse, adding to his own destruction.

  2. [I wish to retract an inappropriate sentence posted in this comment where I misrepresented Cornwall Alliance’s official theological position on human genetic engineering. The sentence is, “I think it’s quite clear the folks at Cornwall are attempting to lay a theological framework for transhumanism.” Dr. Beisner has made it clear that Cornwall Alliance does not support the genetic engineering of humans, or transhumanism, my bad. The rest of the comment remains unchanged.]

    If man has dominion to change the genetic structure of plants and animals, then why not humans? It is the logical next step. If they [theologians] draw a line and say, “No, not humans”, then they are making an arbitrary decision that “dominion” does not extend to the betterment of mankind through scientific pursuits such as vaccines, implants, etc. The transhumanists claim human genetic engineering, along with other technologies, is just another means to better the human condition (i.e “reverse the effects of the curse”).

    Nick Bostrum, a leading transhumanist, describes the rationale for human genetic engineering in nearly the exact same terms that Gregory, Beisner, and Ballor are using to defend GM crops…i.e. “remold in desirable ways”, “responsible use of science and technology”, “rational means”, “greater capacities”, etc.

    Here’s how Bostrum describes the transhumanist worldview:

    “Transhumanists view human nature as a work-in-progress, a half-baked beginning that we can learn to remold in desirable ways. Current humanity need not be the endpoint of evolution. Transhumanists hope that by responsible use of science, technology, and other rational means we shall eventually manage to become post-human, beings with vastly greater capacities than present human beings have.”

    Even the transhumists are debating among themselves how far this should, or will go.

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?page=dacey_24_4&section=library

  3. Death is an enemy, and we all do things to fight it and prevent it for as long as possible. Most of us exercise and try to eat healthy, take medicine, and undergo surgical procedures when needed to keep us going. But are we willing to do absolutely anything, including genetically manipulating our own human DNA, to try and prevent death?

    The real question regarding the theological implications of genetic modification is this- “Where does our treasure lie?”

    Are we using the tools we have wisely, judiciously, or are we placing too much hope in the promises of science and technology? There is really only ONE way to conquer death, and that is to trust in the ONE who already did so on our behalf.

  4. Ruth

    Another thought provoking article Steve. The more I’ve read the past few days on the subjects of GMO’s, human genetic engineering, trans-humanism, stem cell research, and selective breeding of plants and animals for particular traits; one word echoed louder and louder through my head: NAZISM. We hear the word “eugenics” and are abhorred when it is used in the same sentence
    as “Nazi medical experiments”. But exchange the word “Nazi” for Princeton University Professor of Molecular Biology” and re-name the research “reprogenetics” instead of eugenics,
    and wa-la the negative stigma attached to the medical research vanishes. Princeton Professor of Molecular Biology Lee M. Silver coined the term reprogenetics and has a 2007 book titled,
    “Remaking Eden: How Genetic Engineering and Cloning Will Transform the American Family”

    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/brave-new-world-dawning

    Creationist, chemist and missionary, Russell Grigg shares a different perspective about today’s Social Darwinism and the parallel to Hitler/Nazi medical research in the following article:

    http://creation.com/hitlers-master-race-children-haunted-by-their-pas

  5. Oh, my, Steve! You not only misrepresent our position but also reason invalidly in the process. You write, “I think it’s quite clear the folks at Cornwall are attempting to lay a theological framework for transhumanism. If man has dominion to change the genetic structure of plants and animals, they why not humans? It is the logical next step.” Why not say, “If man has dominion to eat sheep, then why not humans? It is the logical next step”? We DO NOT believe in transhumanism, and you won’t find a single statement anywhere in our publications that supports your charge that we’re laying a framework for it. Further, “It’s okay to change the genetic structure of plants and animals” does NOT logically entail “It’s okay to change the genetic structure of humans.” Valid logical inference requires conformity to certain rules of inference having to do with the meaning and structure of premises. (For a brief introduction to those rules, see “Summary of Major Concepts, Principles, and Functions of Logic” at http://www.ecalvinbeisner.com/freearticles/Logicsummary.pdf.) Your inference is utterly invalid.

  6. First, I want to thank you Dr. Beisner for taking the time to reply here. You are correct that I shouldn’t have said that the ” folks at Cornwall are attempting to lay a theological framework for transhumanism.” I have insinuated an evil motive without providing any evidence. I apologize. However, if we can make new GM plants and animals, then why not humans? Cornwall’s position/ decision to limit the practice does not mean that others will, and in fact others readily claim that your set of limitations are arbitrary and merely based on your own religious beliefs or your own interpretation of scripture. You are not in charge of GM tech and where it is headed.

  7. Thank you, Steve, for acknowledging that you misrepresented our position and volunteering to post a correction.

    You’ve added: “However, if we can make new GM plants and animals, then why not humans?” As I implied by writing, “If man has dominion to eat sheep, then why not humans? It is the logical next step,” your inference (GM plants and animals okay, therefore GM humans okay) doesn’t follow logically, i.e., it ISN’T the logical next step. I implied that via what’s called a reductio ad absurdum–showing that someone’s argument form applied elsewhere leads to an absurd result. You’ve stated your argument as a hypothetical (discussed at http://www.ecalvinbeisner.com/freearticles/Logicsummary.pdf). Its protasis (the first part, which follows “If”) is “We can make new GM plants and animals.” Its apodasis (the second part, which follows [the implicit] “then”) is “why not humans?” Although you’ve stated your hypothetical argument in the form of a question, it can be restated as an assertion: “If we can make GM plants and animals, then we can make GM humans.” Now, it SHOULD be clear enough that the conclusion doesn’t follow from the condition simply from the fact that if we substitute some other actions, it’ll be obvious that the condition doesn’t imply the conclusion: e.g., “If we can eat plants, then we can eat humans” or “If we can eat cattle, then we can eat humans” or “If we can corral horses then we can corral humans.” The reason the conclusion doesn’t follow is precisely that it’s talking about something (humans) about which the condition doesn’t say anything.

    Steve, you have great potential as an apologist for Christian ethics applied to environmental (and other) issues. But to realize that potential, you need to be able to argue soundly–with valid inferences and true premises. So, I would encourage you to buy and carefully study a good introductory textbook on logic. I recommend Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks’s COME, LET US REASON (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0801038367/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=cornwallia-20&camp=0&creative=0&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=0801038367&adid=1GWWSCE5BPP9JXSS4K72&).

  8. (Note: I am posting this comment under GMO GENIE parts III and IV because I think it goes to the crux of the matter.)

    Christians are called to preach the gospel of the risen Christ.

    There is a “period” at the end of that sentence. When the period is in place, there is a unity among believers. Divisions arise when we start adding things. i.e. Jesus plus this, or Jesus plus that. Cornwall’s theology takes the gospel message and adds man’s dominion over nature. In fact this “dominion mandate” becomes quite nearly their entire focus almost completely obscuring and eclipsing the gospel message.

    Other religions and even some Christian groups support genetic engineering. Some, like Cornwall, want to limit the technology to plants and animals, while some want to extend it to the human genome. Some want to use every means possible to help man to make progress, “evolve” or fulfill his “ultimate destiny”.

    Carl Teichrib is an evangelical Christian who gave an outstanding talk to one such group – The Mormon Transhumanist Society. This is a must see video, as Carl not only clearly and concisely presents the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the differences between man (the steward) and God (the creator), but he points out the dangers of adding things to the gospel that distort or muddy the message.

  9. Dennis

    Faith in logic follows the traditions of philosophy and the tangle of words and their meanings, and though logic should be apparent, often it’s just camouflage, for an agenda (Marxism), and though some can “prove” their benevolence, the logic of the love of money and the pride of life as man becomes the measure of himself seems to elude them.
    If something, anything is presented with the altruism badge of honor, then any opposition is automatically evil.
    My point? Just that logic isn’t always logical, and treating important information coming from this blog as if condescendingly advocating “Logic 101” to diminish the posts usefulness is illogical.
    To extrapolate that company (a) which is doing GMO research and application will also apply that research and application to human beings, may be false, but to extrapolate that companies X, Y, and Z will do so may very well be logical; the evidence is found in human history where human beings have done so much evil, often in the name of science or humanism.
    This is my illogical and declarative statement of which I’ll not make any defense, nor do I feel a need to be supported; reality is what it is and no amount of polemic will change the varieties of the nature of man which inevitably finds its way into business.

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