Should we, as humans, change the way DNA was designed? Do we know more than God to be able to alter DNA in an organism, making it “better?”
Modern technology and medicine have uncovered much of what we thought to be impossible, making the things from sci-fi movies a reality.
Now, gene editing has blown the scientific community by storm. Researchers are uncovering more than ever before, and with way more efficiency. This discovery is not without its controversies. Manipulating human design raises some major ethical and moral questions.
The National Institute of Health reported:
“Genome editing (also called gene editing) is a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA. These technologies allow genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome.”
Gene editing could lead to medical advances curing single-gene disorders such as, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and sickle cell disease. There is also hopes of preventing cancer, heart disease, human immunodeficiency virus infection, and even some mental illnesses, according to the National Institute of Health.
It’s hard to oppose curing disease, but could there be a dark side?
Some countries around the world have already gone so far as to ban gene editing, finding the practice to be unsavory. But what specifically are they objecting to?
Much research into gene editing is focused on “somatic cells,” such as skin cells, organ cells, etc, but there are some researchers whose studies involve manipulating fertilized embryonic cells.
MIT in Oregon was the first institution in the United States to experiment on human embryos just last year. As a result of their research, the fertilized human embryos were “disposed of” after the results of the trials were documented:
“None of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days — and there was never any intention of implanting them into a womb.”
If we believe life begins at conception, the experimentation required to develop treatment is resulting in the death of countless fertilized human embryos, embryos with unique individual DNA who would otherwise have developed into unique individual human beings.
Can we, as Christians, sanction sacrificing these unique individuals, made in God’s image, in order to develop a cure for disease?
Sadly, curing disease isn’t the only breakthrough scientists seek to make through this research.
Gene-editing technology promises “made-to-order babies” by allowing parents to choose the desired features they would like in their offspring, such as hair color, eye color, etc.
The public is divided on the use of gene editing, even just to cure a disease. Although, religious Americans see more of a problem with it than those that don’t consider themselves religious.
It was just released by Pew Research that “72% of Americans support the use of gene editing to help cure a serious congenital disease (one present at birth), while only 57 percent of the highly religious agree.”
Interesting to note, when gene editing was going to be used to cure a disease on an adult, less Americans were willing to support the controversial application.
“Only 60 percent of Americans felt that would be appropriate, while support among the highly religious dropped below 50 percent,” reports Christianity International Today.
The more religious someone reported to be, the less likely they were to support gene editing for curing diseases at birth.
But even then, Pew Research reports that 52% of highly committed evangelicals of all races approved of gene editing at birth, while 65% of moderately committed evangelicals approved!
There cannot be human application of gene editing technology without testing on humans. You need large quantities of human trials in order to be approved by the Federal Drug Administration, which gives pass to pharmaceutical companies to deliver the treatment to patients.
The answer to this experimental dilemma in the scientific community is to create a “disposable” life in the lab, and then destroy the life after they got what they needed out of it.
Among the highly religious white evangelicals “71 percent said such gene editing was “meddling with nature” and “crossing a line we should not cross.”, according to a 2016 Pew Survey.
So what do you think? Is it okay to use and dispose of fertilized human embryos in the lab, if it allows us to find cures for various areas of human suffering? Should you be able to pick your child’s qualities and traits?
Please let us know in the comments section what your opinion of gene editing is, and how you see it affecting humanity in the future.