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Too much of a Good Thing Science Unbound – No

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"Too much of a Good Thing Science Unbound - No"
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From the blurred beginnings of human history, man's survival has been dependent upon his ability to use his mind and finer fingers to manipulate the raw and seemingly anarchic environment and to create what he needed from what he found lying at his once bare feet. In the dark recesses of history there dwelt a solitary man. This man may have been afraid. This man may have felt powerless. He lived at the mercy of the elements and in constant horror of rustling in the tall grass. In time, he learned to master fire and did battle with the cold. He learned to fashion weapons that could ward of mighty claws and fearsome teeth. Man is a manipulator, and through this genius of taking what is there and making what is needed, great power is garnered. It is the power to know, to survive, and to speak, "Ordo Ab Kaos." (Order out of Chaos)

History teaches us that this man even began to develop ideas about the origins of the elements, and the sources of the spirits that ruled the rustling, and then began to manipulate them through ritual and supplication in order to garner a sense, however contrived, as the case may be, of power. Even in this, it seems, man, unlike other animals, is the creator of his own power. It is now, in modern times that the power to manipulate and the power to imagine the ultimate manipulator come into conflict.

Let us traverse the millennia between that man who shivered, powerless, before he picked up a rock and shattered it into a shard, and examine the newest scion
of this noble race of primate, this apotheosis of the animal. We manipulate. He has mastered his environment so completely that nearly all of that original birthing
earth, primordial and pregnant, is gone. Man now sends eyes to the stars and sets number to the galaxies, he has probed the smallest fragments of matter and learned to manipulate the myriad and complex mechanisms of the flesh. This knowledge tempts us, perhaps even corrupts us, to envision our own omniscience. How long after patenting genetically modified tomatoes will he seek to patent a man. This statement in itself, "to patent a man", sends shivers down the spine. Out of the power to remake his environment has grown the power to, potentially, remake himself. This power tempts us to envision
our own omnipotence.

Omniscience? Omnipotence? These are words usually kept within the purview of the theologian. Why and when did we begin to apply these most weighty of words to men and women? Is it heresy? Is it blasphemous to devise tests like amniocentesis and CVS that allow us to determine the characteristics of a child, and if we find those characteristics undesirable, to terminate the life of that child. We act as if we are God. For the religious, is it not God who has the unique and exclusive power and wisdom to decide who lives.

Herein lays the dilemma. We are approaching, and in some areas, have surpassed the stage where we have the ability to perform feats of awesome power and consequence. This power sets a panoply question to the mind. When comes the time when what we can do should be limited by what we should do? Do we know when enough is enough? When does invention
outgrow motherly necessity? Do we have the wisdom to do the things we have given ourselves the capability to do and to see them through to their ultimate result. Do we have the wisdom to mete out destiny? Are the eyes of God merely those aided with a microscope? Are the hands of God merely those wrapped in plastic gloves? Is the staff of God a syringe? What would God think?

Herein lies the hubris of our age. We are so enthralled by our own power in the face of a universe that seems, to us, intransigently problematic, that some of us are loathed to hinder the development of any technology that may afford us more power over that universe. The predicament of our time arises as a hydra with a hundred heads. Each time we create a technology that dabbles in the eternal, the elemental, in the fundamental ground of our being, e.g. the atom, the gene, we risk falling victim to our hubris, our foibles, our mistakes, our lack of foresight. Were the inventors of the technology that led to the creation of the atomic bomb aware that North Korea
might someday acquire Armageddon? A theologian might argue that even if we someday, through science, gain all the power of God, we would still fall short of the glory in one respect. When plunging his hands in the primordial soup of creation and fashioning, in his infinite wisdom, a form, God, as we conceive of Him, doesn't make mistakes.

More about this author: Michael Stonecipher

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