Way back in the prehistory of this blog I posted an entry about fear and human-animal hybrids. Yesterday I got the latest edition of this type of fear in my Breaking Christian News e-mail. In it was a story headlined Prayer Alert: Ethical Outrage as Scientists Create “Human-Sheep”. Now I’m always mildly skeptical when I see an article that doesn’t so much report the event as it reports the outrage of the reporter to the event.
For example, consider this quote, part of a preface to the story from reporter Teresa Neumann:
I will never forget my feelings of disbelief and revulsion when I read Toffler’s assertion that in our lifetime we would not only witness the advent of human cloning, but fully human-animal hybrids as well. Those feelings returned with a vengeance yesterday when I read that researchers in America have just “created” a sheep with half-human organs. Who does man think he is? Where will this lead? What must God think? What should our response be? Do we run to the caves and cower in shame, calling for the wrath of God to come quickly upon the earth, orlike Abraham or Jonahdo we plead forgiveness and ask God to change the hearts of man, thus changing the society we live in? Let us pray…
So much, I guess, for objective reporting. Personally, I think I will pray for those Christians whose fear and revulsion somehow allows them to think that man is getting too close to God. I’ll let you all in on a secret–getting to the point of assuming God’s power is quite a distance away from us humans.
The link from the BCN story is to CBN which takes essentially the same approach. Again, the primary story is about the debate:
A bio-ethical debate is raging at a Nevada university, where scientists have created the world’s first sheep with half-human organs.
For a more news-oriented report, see this story in The Mail.
We often use God as a convenient label for what we don’t know, and as long as that’s not all he is, I don’t have a major problem with that use. But when God becomes the label for our fears, then I believe we have a problem in our faith walk. Somehow God has made it through the crusades, the inquisition, and the mutually assured destruction policy with nuclear weapons. I doubt he’s particularly threatened by a few human organs grown in sheep. It does make me think about a nice horror movie based on the idea of killer sheep with superhuman intelligence, chasing sheep dogs and farmers from their land and taking over the world. Baaaaaaah! Sheep Rule!
There’s a continuing residue of thinking from the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) that often makes Christians believe that we might get too close to God and bring on his wrath and destruction. Perhaps we should apply a little logic. Any tower in the ancient near east would be considerably less lofty than the Empire State Building, or the Sears Tower, or the Twin Towers. The Twin Towers fell, but it was evil human beings using natural weapons that accomplished their fall.
Interestingly enough, the builders of the Tower of Babel were also not so much trying to usurp God’s power as they were trying to get protection from God’s wrath. Their fear was driving them.
There is the very valid question of safety, but safety concerns do not come from the possibility of offending God by mismanaging his universe. There is a concern with the possibility of viruses. I have no knowledge in the relevant areas, but I found this blog entry that discusses a few of those issues. My plan here is not to lay all fears to rest, but rather to suggest rational discussion leading, I hope, to appropriate safety measures. Fear will produce retreat; wisdom will produce caution. Progress means risk–it’s worth taking just a little.