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Hope for 2013: Embracing human nature

*subhead*Natural is good.*subhead*
Peering into the abyss of biotechnology, I have often mused that the problem with much of what goes on in fertility clinics and laboratories of the world is a denial of human nature. The denial that living human organisms, regardless of how they are created, are indeed human beings. They are small and immature, but human beings none-the-less.

This denial of the nature of humanity can be seen in nearly all the moral problems in our society: from the denial of the humanity of the unborn, the sick and the disabled; to the denial of our need of an intact family unit with both a mother and a father; to the denial that sex is a procreative event; to the denial that the safest most loving place to begin our lives is in our mother's womb, not in a laboratory; to the denial that the sex of your next child should be decided by God and not by you.

I was heartened that the Holy Father spoke about human nature in his Christmas address to the Roman Curia. It is the denial our God-given nature that threatens to destroy our families and our civilization. From Catholic News Service:
Pope Benedict XVI said the family in Western society is undergoing a “crisis that threatens it to its foundations,” owing to false ideas of human nature that equate freedom with selfishness and present God-given sexual identities as a matter of individual choice to the profound detriment of humanity dignity.

But the pope said that the Catholic Church, in its dialogue with states, secular society and other religions, can help restore a proper understanding of human nature as a basis for justice and peace....

“The question of the family is not just about a particular social construct, but about man himself — about what he is and what it takes to be authentically human,” Pope Benedict said.

“Only in self-giving does man find himself,” the pope said, “only by letting himself be changed through suffering does he discover the breadth of his humanity.”

As a consequence of an “increasingly widespread” refusal to make lifelong commitments to the family, the pope said, “man remains closed in on himself” and “essential elements of the experience of being human are lost.”
The Pope's comments focus on the family but I think they have far-reaching relevance. For me, this is the money quote:
 “The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned.”
We have decided that we are not subject to our nature. We think rejecting our nature makes us free. In fact, rejecting our nature enslaves us.

The rejection of our biological nature is what is driving us toward transhumanism. Transhumanism, I believe, will be the ultimate in enslavement. We will integrate technology to upgrade our otherwise healthy bodies because we have to to keep up with everyone else that is enhanced. When the coercive aspect of human augmentation kicks in and we are faced with the choice between being the underclass in our natural bodies or the overclass in enhanced bodies, then we will have become slaves to the technology that we thought gave us more freedom.

The use of sophisticated tools is what marks our species, of that there is no doubt. But we can put down those tools and still be considered a person. We don't need to have a cell phone or TV or computer to participate in society as an equal. But with the advent of neural nanobots, artificial intelligence implants, genetic enhancements, and bionic limbs and eyes will that still be the case? I doubt it.

In case you aren't convinced read "When Will We Be Transhuman? Seven Conditions for Attaining Transhumanism" by Kyle Munkittrick where he argues for personhood based on everything but biology:
Using a scaled system based on traits like sentience, empathy, self-awareness, tool use, problem solving, social behaviors, language use, and abstract reasoning, animals (including humans) will be granted rights based on varying degrees of personhood. Personhood based rights will protect against Gattaca scenarios while ensuring the rights of new forms of intelligence, be they alien, artificial, or animal, are protected. When African grey parrots, gorillas, and dolphins have the same rights as a human toddler, a transhuman friendly rights system will be in place.
I watched the 2012 version of "Total Recall" over the Christmas Holiday. The movie was OK. What struck me was that the main character had a phone inside his hand. Humans obviously aren't born with telecommunications devices in our hands. (Imagine trying to upgrade that phone. It would be a trip to the doctor instead of Verizon. Maybe Verizon will have a surgeon on staff. I digress.) Of course when the authorities want to hunt you down and kill you, a phone in your hand is a liability. To get rid of it, Douglas Quaid had to CUT OPEN HIS HAND!!!  Of course, Hollywood glosses over this self-inflicted injury and for the rest of the movie, his hand is just fine. 

But think about this in the real world, once we make non-therapeutic technology part of our bodies, we become slaves unable to detach ourselves without interfering with our bodily integrity.

And don't get me started on the whole quest for immortality because guess what? Humans are not immortal. I shudder to think of the folly we will get up to trying to deny that part of our nature.

My hope for 2013 and beyond is that society makes a shift in the way we think about our bodies like the shift that we have made with our environment and our food. Natural is good.

Rebecca Taylor blogs at Mary Meets Dolly

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5 comments:

Mary De Voe said...

The atheist denies that part of his nature and is trying to find immortality in this. Humans are immortal in their body and soul. But having rejected our Creator, (using his God-given free will to reject his God), the atheist rejects his soul and our souls and tries to find immortality by rebuilding it any which way he can. This is the dangerous part. Taking the image and likeness of God, the atheist tries to improve on perfection.
Brave New World is written all over this. Aldous Huxley was an atheist. The natural man hung himself in the book, which is an unnatural way to end a life and a book, almost as though the natural man was preventing some kind of wonderful BRAVE NEW WORLD. Huxley dies the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It was some time later someone asked” Where is Aldous Huxley? Some people believe Huxley to be a prophet. Denying the human soul, the rational, immortal soul of man endowed with unalienable rights, sovereign personhood, free will, intellect, informed consent and freedom is cowardice not bravery, a mortal god demanding tribute. Conceived in original innocence and virginity, the sovereign person has no need of anything but to remain sovereign, innocent and virgin, as Our Lady and Jesus Christ WHO maintained their virginity in obedience and humility. A person, obedient to the will of God, following his vocation will never be called to mutilate himself, or as the "savage" did, commit suicide in Brave New World. Life begins with the very first cell, thirteen chromosomes from the father, thirteen chromosomes from the mother. Life comes from the soul created and endowed by our Creator. The sovereign person begins at conception. The freedom and free will in the human being are to be treated with dignity and respect. The human being, body and soul, once conceived, must be given acknowledgement of his human rights to any treatments. Mutilation, experimentation, and IVF violate informed consent and sovereignty of the human person. Animals do not have sovereignty and I defy any scientist to procreate sovereignty for an animal. Give the animal informed consent and free will, the animal will decide against his mutilation. There is no informed consent to be given the victim in experimentation. Experimentation means: do it and see what happens to the (victim) patient.(Let me push you off a cliff and then let us see what happens to you) The scientist does not know what is to become of his patient. Frankenstein killed his maker. This is abuse of science and nature. Science knows that all people are individuals and therefore, the response will be individual and unpredictable…no informed consent is possible.
Huxley died and everybody thinks his book Brave New World was glorious but Huxley does not deal with mind control, informed consent, free will and sovereignty. The people behaved like mindless, irrational animals, the end of all atheism. The courts will. The first experiment will go to court to demand his civil rights. Let the lawsuits begin. Chastity Bono ought to be awarded billions.

Redfeather said...

Huh? Chastity Bono awarded millions? Chastity Bono has a free will and chose freely to mutilate her body so grotesquely.

thewhitelilyblog said...

I think this is spam. I had a similar one once--it almost makes sense. But not quite.

Listen, I just wanted to say, re another post that asserted the natural death of the new mass: I stopped at a novus ordo mass on a Sunday when traveling (as a matter of fact, I was coming home from the Kansas City conference on the papacy) and it was far from dying. In a little town along the interstate between Kansas City and Chicago, it was absolutely filled to the brim, not a single seat, I had to kneel in the rear (which was FINE with me). There was a baptism, the priest asked the mom and dad to renew their baptismal promises, and to each renouncement, he responded, "Gre-eat!" in a booming voice. He also hoisted the baby high overhead and paraded around the whole church with his little head bobbling. I couldn't believe the mom didn't run after him screaming. Also my brother's church in Florida is filled every Sunday with as liberal a crowd as you'd wish. They all do some part of the liturgy and are facing the day when they have no priest cheerfully. Not much lost, in their opinion. Just concentrate a million hosts once a year and they'll do the rest, as they do now. Anyway, hello, happy new year, in Christ.

thewhitelilyblog said...

Oh no sorry! That's a regular contributor--must be an ongoing conversation, sorry, not spam, my bad!

Mary De Voe said...

Redfeather said...
"Huh? Chastity Bono awarded millions? Chastity Bono has a free will and chose freely to mutilate her body so grotesquely." Before surgery a doctor tells his patient: "We are going to do this, this, and this and we expect this, this and this", I cannot believe that Bono did that to herself. Somebody did that to her.

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