How's this for a scenario? The year is 2025. A couple walks into a local franchise of the nationwide chain Designer Genes. They're planning a family and want to find out what's available from the international gene pool.
So many options - geniuses, noble characters, all the fashionable body styles. See computer projections of what the baby will look like at 12, 25, 60. Customize the child of your dreams. How about the current Hollywood heartthrob with a dash of Nobel physicist and champion athlete?
Far-fetched, perhaps. But physical science asserts that an individual's life is fundamentally the result of inherited genetic traits, and the issue of human biological engineering will increasingly confront us in coming years. Most people rightly feel there are major ethical questions involved, and that's revealing in itself.
Because what makes the idea of designing human beings unacceptable is much more fundamental than just Frankenstein fears. It's actually our unerasable spiritual sense. It tells us that, in reality, genetic material called DNA does not determine individuality.
What, then, does determine who we are?
Spiritual sense discerns answers in biblical words like these: "Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves .... For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations" (Ps. 100:3, 5). Goodness, mercy, and truth are eternal substance. God's perfect qualities are the building blocks of identity.
The reality of this spiritual view of selfhood breaks through time-bound sense like the headlight on a night train penetrates unlit countryside. Spiritual intuitions tell us that we've always existed and always will, as individual spiritual consciousness. Such inspiration is like waking up from a dream. The founder of this newspaper writes: "Life in matter is a dream: sin, sickness, and death are this dream. Life is Spirit; and when we waken from the dream of life in matter, we shall learn this grand truth of being" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Christian Healing," pg. 9).
"Yes," many people might say, "I believe that life is actually more than just matter. But since we have these physical bodies right now, isn't it up to us to design better ones if we can, just like we design better bridges, tomatoes, or milk cows?"
Sounds logical, but again, as the Psalmist writes, "... it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves." A clear understanding of creativity is based on spiritual wisdom, the truth that "endureth to all generations."
The book of Isaiah says health springs from mercy, from helping the oppressed (see Isa. 58:6, 8). And 2,000 years before biologists ever considered cataloging DNA, Christ Jesus provided this map to health and immortality: "It is the Spirit which gives life. The flesh will not help you. The things which I have told you are spiritual and are life" (John 6:63, "The New Testament in Modern English," by J. B. Phillips). The way to improve the quality of life, then, is to draw closer to Spirit.
Jesus' healing of disease and victory over death are humanity's wake-up call from the dream that matter constitutes life. His example of living Love also rouses us from sin, which is simply part of the same dream that the opposite of Spirit can contain anything substantial or good. Waking from fear and sin through God-centered living will ultimate in the eradication of hereditary and other diseases. This is our privilege today - and will be in 2025 and beyond.
The Monitor honors every honest desire to improve human existence. The diligence, compassion, and moral thoughtfulness that are brought to scientific research benefit humanity. But isn't waking to the reality that God is Life the most progressive cause anyone can commit to?
The Spirit itself
beareth witness with
our spirit, that we
are the children