My freshman Sociology professor was a mix between Sarumon- (the evil wizard from J.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy), and Freddy Kruger. His reputation for baiting naïve freshmen into open debate just so he could slice them to pieces with his superior intellect and advanced debating skills was legendary. I’ll never forget that first day of class when the “good” teacher wrote the following words across the blackboard:
THERE ARE NO INDIVIDUALS!
When this firebrand of a teacher exclaimed in his booming voice that, “THERE ARE NO INDIVIDUALS!” and demanded a show of hands of anybody who dared disagree, I sat there just like all the other 90+ students in the lecture hall, churning inside, but too damn scared to raise my hand to voice opposition.
This particular professor was an outspoken practitioner of Wicca and well known for his radical environmental views. The man’s shoulder length silver hair and matching beard were a common sight around campus. He shunned automobiles and rode his bicycle everywhere he went.. Back in those days, (1975), I had no qualms with the professor’s worldview and certainly none for his chosen mode of transportation. I was an agnostic myself and already a very passionate environmentalist.
As the professor scanned the room looking for victims, our eyes met just for a moment, and then I immediately looked down at my feet hoping he wouldn’t notice me. I could feel his piercing black eyes penetrating my soul as he sized up the flock. I wanted to raise my hand in the worst way, but I also didn’t want to be made to look like a fool in front of the entire class, especially on the first day of the new semester. Not surprisingly, no one in the entire class raised their hand. The professor looked disdainfully about the room and said, “I thought so.” I don’t remember anything else the man said or taught for the rest of the semester.
After that experience I promised myself that whenever the opportunity presented itself, even though I lacked training in the fine art of debating, or possessed an inferior intellect compared to those I disagreed with, or fell short in the required academic credentialing, I was never going to remain silent and let someone tell me that up was really down, and wrong was really right. And that included anyone who called themselves an “expert” or went around parading a long list of titles or academic credentials.
I have learned that the Bible is true, God is real, and He has given us His Son, so that “whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16] I hang my hat on the fact that God will direct my steps, if I am willing, paying attention, obedient, and not blinded by my own desires. As I have written in the first three segments of GMO GENIE, I hold a contrary position regarding Genetically Modified Organisms from that espoused by Dr. Calvin Beisner and the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.
The theological debate regarding GMO’s centers on several factors, including the definition of “stewardship”, “dominion”, “good”, “evil”, and the ultimate purposes and goals of GM technology. Cornwall Alliance claims that man has a “dominion mandate”, indeed, a moral obligation and stewardship responsibility to create new organisms by combining genes from different “kinds” of living creatures in the laboratory to produce stronger crops, increase yields, and “reduce the effects of the curse”. Yet many professing Christians find the creation of these new chimeras abhorrent.
There are many ways to strengthen crops and produce higher yields without GM technology. Man has developed all sorts of techniques and tools to make life safer, more pleasant, more productive, and last longer. The debate is NOT about doing things that help us live in this fallen world. The debate is about doing a specific thing that many people, and especially many Christians, believe that mankind has not been mandated by God to do and which could ultimately prove catastrophic. The debate is not just about the principle of re-making the plants and animals that God originally created by combining genetic material from different life forms in the laboratory, but it is about the wisdom of creating such organisms in the first place. Once created, it then becomes a matter of judging the “product” itself. [See Matthew 7:20]
Reviewing the recent arguments for and against GMO’s as posted on the Cornwall Facebook page reveals that the conversation between opposing viewpoints can quickly devolve into what the apostle Paul described in 1 Timothy as “vain babblings”, arguments over cost benefit analysis, real or imagined effects, and other issues. One thing becomes very clear- the GM process when looked at holistically involves many evils, including convincing, bribing, or intimidating individuals and governments to go along with the idea of releasing new patented creations into the environment, and then requiring nearly everyone on earth to purchase and consume them. Cornwall and Dr. Calvin Beisner’s position that GMO’s are a legitimate expression of man’s dominion mandate provides a cover of morality, not just to those seeking privatization and a government/corporate monopoly on food production, but for nearly anything else that man can conceive of doing.
Please note, as has been discussed previously, we aren’t talking about making stronger pea plants through the hybridization of similar kinds. We are talking about incorporating genetic material from vastly different “kinds”, different species, recombing genetic material in new and unique ways that are then controlled by patents requiring a legal obligation on the part of the grower. With the simultaneous planned elimination of alternative seed choices, the farmer has little option but to comply.
In discussing GMO’s on Cornwall’s Facebook page, only two individuals raised their hands to argue against GM technology. Outgunned by professional chemists and industry insiders led by Dr. Beisner, a skilled debator and master of “logic”, we stood our ground. The Cornwall folks did provide reasonable answers to many of the specific points and concerns that we raised, but ignored the thornier issues concerning human rights, food freedom, and specific theological criticisms leveled at their treatise called, Theological Framework for Evaluating Genetically Modified Food.
Beneath the word “stewardship” as Cornwall defines it, lies the acquisition of influence, authority, power, control, and dominion over every aspect of creation. At one point in the debate, I pointed out that had the Nazi’s won WW II, we would have been much further along with the creation of GMO’s than we are today. One of the Cornwall folks responded to my NAZI comparison by pointing out that, “It was the Nazi’s ethics that were different, not their logic; and they certainly didn’t “elevate” logic.”
There may be differences between the “ethics” of Nazi eugenics and somebody’s definition of “godly” genetic engineering, but the rationalizations for, and even some of the underlying goals of today’s GM technologies, are exactly the same as those crudely employed sixty years ago. If there is indeed a line that the NAZI’s crossed that we shouldn’t cross, I think the researchers in Great Britain who, just a few years ago, admitted to having created ‘para-humans’ and animal-human ‘chimeras” should hear about it. Somebody should explain where the ethical boundary line is to SENOMYX, a company that has been utilizing the cloned cells from aborted fetuses as a test medium for flavor enhancement ingredients found in consumer food products sitting on store shelves right next to the GM products.
Cornwall says they don’t support the genetic modification of humans. Such a statement is not just arbitrary, it is basically meaningless since genetic modification and experimentation of human DNA has been underway for quite some time. Their shaky theological framework in support of genetically modified organisms provides an open door for the acceptance of all sorts of unimaginable GM technologies, including transhumanism. All “ethical” bets are off when it comes to finding new and innovative ways to reduce “the effects of the curse.”
Christian love is born of unity in the Spirit. And unity of the Spirit comes from God. When we hold opposing worldviews, or cannot agree on the purposes for which we have been created, then there cannot be unity. Opposing opinions regarding GMO’s are growing more passionate on both sides. Pro GM theocrats are creating a massive stumbling block for people of conscience who simply aren’t buying the propaganda put forth by an elite cadre of scientists and self-appointed theologians. To assume that such a growing divide can be bridged by skilled arguments, peer persuasion, or the sheer force of “logic”, is the height of arrogance. For such are the tactics of our adversary.
“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane [and] vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with the. Amen. “ [I Tim 6:20-21]
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” [Philippians 2:1-2]
Man’s pursuit of GMO’s will ultimately be judged by God as either wise or foolish. He will either be pleased with what we have done, or He will not. There are no shades of gray regarding “good” or “evil” in this debate.