Aldous Huxley saw it coming. In 2002 then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI, said the creation of genetically-engineered babies crosses the threshold of what can be considered morally permissible.
In a book authored by Peter Seewald titled, God and the World: A Conversation With Peter Seewald, Ratzinger gets to the heart of the matter. He condemns the improper use of science where man attempts to assert himself the arbiter of new human life.
What follows is a long excerpt from Seewald’s interview with the German Cardinal, who would become pope three years later.
“As long as this [genetic engineering] is done for the purpose of healing, and with due reverence for creation, it is good. To the extent that man believes himself… to be… a co-creator… an engineer of the world, he can… become a destroyer of life.…
“[E]ven the beginning of genetic manipulation is liable to develop into an assumption of domination over the world, which will then carry within it the seeds of destruction. Man is in capable of creating anything; he can only reassemble things.… [H]e can become an assistant and a keeper in God‘s garden. But wherever he puts himself forward as maker of things himself, then creation is threatened.
Then-Cardinal Ratzinger goes on to liken this present situation to Genesis 3, following the Fall. God kicks Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, and then He places angels to stand guard to bar the first humans’ reentry. Man was prohibited from eating from the tree that gave immortality, “since,” as Ratzinger explains, “to be immortal in this [fallen] condition would… be perdition.” Scientists “with genetic codes available to them [are] starting to pick from the tree of life and make themselves the lords of life and death, to reassemble life…”
“Precisely what man was supposed to be protected from is now… happening: he is crossing the final boundary… [M]an makes other men his own artifacts. Man no longer originates in the mystery of love, by… conception and birth… but is produced industrially, like any other product.…
“We can… be certain of this: God will take action to counter an ultimate crime, and ultimate act of self-destruction, on the part of man. He will take action against the attempt to demean mankind by the production of slave-beings.
“There are indeed final boundaries we cannot cross without turning into the agents of the destruction of creation itself, without going far beyond the original sin and the first Fall and all its negative consequences” (pgs 132-35, all emphasis is my own).
The stakes are that high. They really are that dire. We are playing God, thinking we can conquer nature so as to engineer human beings who can live forever. Playing god by deciding who gets to live and who must die will bring not relief from God’s sovereignty but rather His utter wrath and judgment.
Who will heed this warning on the consequence of crossing the threshold of moral tolerance?
What do you make then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s words of warning?
Can we do anything to get the toothpaste back into the tube, so to speak, on our crossing the threshold of what is morally acceptable?
Please weigh in with your comments below.