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Tag Archives: freedom
Posted: August 27, 2016 at 7:06 pm
Friends, Have you heard off the 22-day push-up challenge? My good friend Mike La Caze nominated me to do it. Basically, one does 22 push-ups a day for 22 days t…o raise awareness for combat veterans (and we record our pushup experiences and share it). There are approximately 22 vets a day that are committing suicide, and this is a small way to raise awareness for that issue. As a journalist who has been to war zones and seen tragedy, I’m especially interested in making sure our soldiers are happy when they return home. The hope here is that awareness of this tragic issue brings more funding, resources, and support to the vets that need it when they face depression.
Everyday, I’m supposed to nominate somone else to do this too. Today I nominate Transhumanist Party officer and friend Chris T. Armstrong.
The rules are simple: * Once you are nominated your 22 days start the following day. * Every day, you record yourself doing 22 push-ups. Try your best to reach 22. If that means doing assisted (from your knees) push-ups or that you have to stop and take a break that’s fine but try to get them all done in one video. * Every day you must nominate a different person. Try to choose people you think will want to do this and/or have the ability to do it. * And finally, have fun with this. This is a simple and fun way to get the word out about a matter that more people need to be aware about. **These brave men and women put their lives on the line to protect our freedom and it’s sad that so many veterans feel that suicide is the only way out. For more information: http://stopsoldiersuicide.org/about/ #transhumanism #ScienceCandidate #Election2016 #POTUS #22PushupChallenge
Transhumanist Party | Facebook
Posted: August 21, 2016 at 11:16 am
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Posted: August 19, 2016 at 4:14 am
We live in a brave new world in which reproductive technologies are ravaging as well as replenishing families. Increasingly common are variations of the situation in which “baby’s mother is also grandma-and sister.”1 Sometimes extreme measures are necessary in order to have the kind of child we want.
This new eugenics is simply the latest version of the age-old quest to make human beings–in fact, humanity as a whole–the way we want them to be: perfect. It includes our efforts to be rid of unwanted human beings through abortion and euthanasia. It more recently is focusing on our growing ability to understand and manipulate our genetic code, which directs the formation of many aspects of who we are, for better and for worse.
We aspire to complete control over the code, though at this point relatively little is possible. This backdrop can help us understand the great fascination with human cloning today. It promises to give us a substantial measure of power over the genetic makeup of our offspring. We cannot control their code exactly, but the first major step in that direction is hugely appealing: You can have a child whose genetic code is exactly like your own. And you didn’t turn out so badly, did you?
Admittedly, in our most honest moments we would improve a few things about ourselves. So the larger agenda here remains complete genetic control. But human cloning represents one concrete step in that direction, and the forces pushing us from behind to take that step are tremendous. These forces are energized, as we will see, by the very ways we look at life and justify our actions. But before examining such forces, we need a clearer view of human cloning itself.
It was no longer ago than 1997 when the president of the United States first challenged the nation and charged his National Bioethics Advisory Commission2 to give careful thought to how the United States should proceed regarding human cloning. Attention to this issue was spurred by the reported cloning of a large mammal–a sheep–in a new way. The method involved not merely splitting an early-stage embryo to produce identical twins. Rather, it entailed producing a nearly exact genetic replica of an already existing adult.
The technique is called nuclear transfer or nuclear transplantation because it involves transferring the nucleus (and thus most of the genetic material) from a cell of an existing being to an egg cell in order to replace the egg cell’s nucleus. Stimulated to divide by the application of electrical energy, this egg–now embryo–is guided by its new genetic material to develop as a being who is genetically almost identical to the being from which the nucleus was taken. This process was reportedly carried out in a sheep to produce the sheep clone named Dolly3 but attention quickly shifted to the prospects for cloning human beings (by which I will mean here and throughout, cloning by nuclear transfer).
Quickly people began to see opportunities for profit and notoriety. By 1998, for example, scientist Richard Seed had announced intentions to set up a Human Clone Clinic–first in Chicago, then in ten to twenty locations nationally, then in five to six locations internationally.4 While the U.S. federal government was pondering how to respond to such initiatives, some of the states began passing legislation to outlaw human cloning research, and nineteen European nations acted quickly to sign a ban on human cloning itself.5 However, the European ban only blocks the actual implantation, nurture, and birth of human clones, and not also cloning research on human embryos that are never implanted. Such research has been slowed in the United States since the president and then Congress withheld federal government funds from research that subjects embryos to risk for non-therapeutic purposes.6 Moreover, a United Nations declaration co-sponsored by eighty-six countries in late 1998 signaled a broad worldwide opposition to research that would lead to human cloning.7
Yet there are signs of this protection for embryos weakening in the face of the huge benefits promised by stem cell research. Stem cells can treat many illnesses and can have the capacity to develop into badly needed body parts such as tissues and organs. One way to obtain stem cells is to divide an early stage embryo into its component cells–thereby destroying the embryonic human being. Under President Clinton, the National Institutes of Health decided that as long as private sources destroyed the embryos and produced the stem cells, the federal government would fund research on those cells.8 During 2001, President Bush prohibited federally-funded research on embryonic stem cells produced after the date his prohibition was announced. In 2002, his newly-formed Council on Bioethics raised serious questions about even this form of embryonic stem cell research, through the Council was divided on this matter.9 These developments underscore that there are a number of technological developments that are closely interrelated and yet have somewhat different ethical considerations involved. While embryo and stem cell research are very important issues, they are distinct ethically from the question of reproducing human beings through cloning. Reproduction by cloning is the specific focus of this essay.
While no scientifically verifiable birth of a human clone has yet been reported, the technology and scientific understanding are already in place to make such an event plausible at any time now. There is an urgent need to think through the relevant ethical issues. To begin with, is it acceptable to refer to human beings produced by cloning technology as “clones”? It would seem so, as long as there does not become a stigma attached to that term that is not attached to more cumbersome expressions like “a person who is the result of cloning” or “someone created through the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer.” We call someone from Italy an Italian, no disrespect intended. So it can be that a person “from cloning” is a clone. We must be ready to abandon this term, however, if it becomes a label that no longer meets certain ethical criteria.10
In order to address the ethics of human cloning itself, we need to understand why people would want to do it in the first place. People often respond to the prospect of human cloning in two ways. They are squeamish about the idea–a squeamishness Leon Kass has argued we should take very seriously.11 They also find something alluring about the idea. Such fascination is captured in a variety of films, including “The Boys from Brazil” (portraying the attempt to clone Adolf Hitler), “Bladerunner” (questioning whether a clone would be more like a person or a machine), and “Multiplicity” (presenting a man’s attempt to have enough time for his family, job, and other pursuits by producing several live adult replicas of himself). Popular discussions center on the wonderful prospects of creating multiple Mother Teresas, Michael Jordans, or other notable figures.
The greatest problem with creative media-driven discussions like this is that they often reflect a misunderstanding of the science and people involved. The film “Multiplicity” presents human replicas, not clones in the form that we are discussing them here. When an adult is cloned (e.g., the adult sheep from which Dolly was cloned), an embryo is created, not another adult. Although the embryo’s cells contain the same genetic code as the cells of the adult being cloned, the embryo must go through many years of development in an environment that is significantly different from that in which the adult developed. Because both our environment and our genetics substantially influence who we are, the embryo will not become the same person as the adult. In fact, because we also have a spiritual capacity to evaluate and alter either or both our environment and our genetics, human clones are bound to be quite different from the adults who provide their genetic code.
If this popular fascination with hero-duplication is not well founded, are there any more thoughtful ethical justifications for human cloning? Many have been put forward, and they cluster into three types: utility justifications, autonomy justifications, and destiny justifications. The first two types reflect ways of looking at the world that are highly influential in the United States and elsewhere today, so we must examine them carefully. They can readily be critiqued on their own terms. The third, while also influential, helpfully opens the door to theological reflection as well. I will begin by explaining the first two justifications. In the following sections I will then assess the first two justifications and carefully examine the third.
Utility justifications defend a practice based on its usefulness, or benefit. As long as it will produce a net increase in human well-being, it is warranted. People are well acquainted with the notion of assessing costs and benefits, and it is common to hear the argument that something will produce so much benefit that efforts to block it must surely be misguided.
Utility justifications are common in discussions of human cloning. Typical examples include:
The second type of justification appeals to the idea of autonomy, an increasingly popular appeal in this postmodern age, in which people’s personal experiences and values play a most important role in determining what is right and true for them. According to this justification, we ought to respect people’s autonomy as a matter of principle. People’s beliefs and values are too diverse to adopt any particular set of them as normative for everyone. Society should do everything possible to enhance the ability of individuals and groups to pursue what they deem most important.
Again, there are many forms that autonomy justifications can take. However, three stand out as particularly influential in discussions of human cloning:
Utility and autonomy are important ethical justifications. However, they do not provide a sufficient ethical basis for human cloning. We will examine them here carefully in turn.
While the concern for utility is admirable, there are many serious problems with this type of justification. Most significantly, it is “unworkable” and it is “dangerous.” It is unworkable because knowing how much utility cloning or any other practice has, with a reasonable level of precision, is simply impossible. We cannot know all of the ways that a practice will affect all people in the world infinitely into the future. For example, it is impossible to quantify accurately the satisfaction of every parent in future centuries who will choose cloning rather than traditional sexual reproduction in order to spare their children from newly discovered genetic problems that are now unknown. In fact, as sheep cloner Ian Wilmut was widely quoted as observing, shortly after announcing his cloning of Dolly, “Most of the things cloning will be used for have yet to be imagined.” The difficulty of comparing the significance of every foreseeable consequence on the same scale of value–including comparing each person’s subjective experiences with everyone else’s–only adds to the unworkability.
What happens in real life is that decision makers intuitively compare only those consequences they are most aware of and concerned about. Such an approach is an open invitation to bias and discrimination, intended and unintended. Even more dangerous is the absence of limits to what can be justified. There are no built-in protections for weak individuals or minority groups, including clones. People can be subjected to anything, the worst possible oppression or even death, if it is beneficial to the majority. Situations such as Nazi Germany and American slavery can be justified using this way of thinking.
When utility is our basis for justifying what is allowed in society, people are used, fundamentally, as mere means to achieve the ends of society or of particular people. It may be appropriate to use plants and animals in this way, within limits. Accordingly, most people do not find it objectionable to clone animals and plants to achieve products that will fulfill a purpose–better milk, better grain, and so forth. However, it is demeaning to “use” people in this way.
This demeaning is what bothers us about the prospect of producing a large group of human clones with low intelligence so that society can have a source of cheap menial labor. It is also what is problematic about producing clones to provide spare parts, such as vital transplantable organs for other people. Both actions fail to respect the equal and great dignity of all people by making some, in effect, the slaves of others. Even cloning a child who dies to remove the parents grief forces the clone to have a certain genetic makeup in order to be the parents’ child, thereby permanently subjecting the clone to the parents’ will. The irony of this last situation, though, is that the clone will not become the same child as was lost–both the child and the clone being the product of far more than their genetics. The clone will be demeaned by not being fully respected and accepted as a unique person, and the parents will fail to regain their lost child in the process.
To summarize: The utility justification is a substantially inadequate basis for defending a practice like cloning. In other words, showing that a good benefit, even a great benefit, will result is not a sufficient argument to justify an action. Although it is easy to forget this basic point when enticed by the promise of a wonderful benefit, we intuitively know it is true. We recognize that we could, for example, cut up one person, take her or his various organs for transplant, and save many lives as a result. But we do not go around doing that. We realize that if the action we take to achieve the benefit is itself horrendous, beneficial results are not enough to justify it.
As significant a critique as this is of a utility justification for human cloning, there is more to say. For even if it were an adequate type of justification, which it is not, it is far from clear that it would justify human cloning. To justify human cloning on the basis of utility, all the consequences of allowing this practice have to be considered, not only the benefits generated by the exceptional situations commonly cited in its defense. What are some of the consequences we need to be concerned about? There is only space here to note two of the many that weigh heavily against human cloning.
First, as suggested earlier, to allow cloning is to open the door to a much more frightening enterprise: genetically engineering people without their consent, not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of particular people or society at large. Cloning entails producing a person with a certain genetic code because of the attractiveness or usefulness of a person with that code. In this sense, cloning is just the tip of a much larger genetic iceberg. We are developing the genetic understanding and capability to shape the human genetic code in many ways. If we allow cloning, we legitimize in principle the entire enterprise of designing children to suit parental or social purposes. As one researcher at the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations has commented, Dolly is best understood as a drop in a towering wave (of genetic research) that is about to crash over us. The personal and social destructiveness of large-scale eugenic efforts (including but by no means limited to Nazi Germany’s) has been substantial, but at least it has been restricted to date by our limited genetic understanding and technology.12 Today the stakes are much higher.
The second of the many additional considerations that must be included in any honest utilitarian calculus involves the allocation of limited resources. To spend resources on the development and practice of human cloning is to not spend them on other endeavors that would be more beneficial to society. For many years now there have been extensive discussions about the expense of health care and the large number of people (tens of millions), even in the United States, that do not have health insurance.13 It has also long been established that such lack of insurance means that a significant number of people are going without necessary health care and are suffering or dying as a result.14 Another way of observing similar pressing needs in health care is to survey the specific areas that could most benefit from additional funds.15 In most of these areas, inadequate funding yields serious health consequences because there is no alternative way to produce the basic health result at issue.
Not only are the benefits of human cloning less significant than those that could be achieved by expending the same funds on other health care initiatives, but there are alternative ways of bringing children into the world that can yield at least one major benefit of cloning children themselves. If there were enough resources available to fund every technology needed or wanted by anyone, the situation would be different. But researching and practicing human cloning will result in serious suffering and even loss of life because other pressing health care needs cannot be met.
An open door to unethical genetic engineering technologies and a misallocation of limited resources, then, are among the numerous consequences of human cloning that would likely more than outweigh the benefits the practice would achieve. As previously argued, we would do better to avoid attempting to justify human cloning simply based on its consequences. But if we are tempted to do so, we must be honest and include all the consequences and not be swayed by exceptional cases that seem so appealing because of the special benefits they would achieve.
Many people today are less persuaded by utility justifications than they are by appeals to autonomy. While the concern for freedom and responsibility for one’s own life in this way of thinking is admirable, autonomy justifications are as deeply flawed as utility justifications. More specifically, they are selfish and they are dangerous.
The very term by which this type of justification is named underscores its selfishness. The word autonomy comes from two Greek words, auto (meaning “self”) and nomos (meaning “law”). In the context of ethics, appeals to autonomy literally signify that the self is its own ethical law that it generates its own standards of right and wrong. There is no encouragement in this way of looking at the world to consider the well-being of others, for that is irrelevant as long as it does not matter to me. Although in theory I should respect the autonomy of others as I live out my own autonomy, in practice an autonomous mindset predisposes me to be unconcerned about how my actions will affect others.
As long as the people making autonomous choices happen to have good moral character that predisposes them to be concerned about the well-being of everyone else, there will not be serious problems. In the United States to date, the substantial influence of Christianity–with its mandate to love others sacrificially–has prompted people to use their autonomous choices to further the interests of others alongside of their own. As Christian influences in public life, from public policy to public education, continue to be eradicated in the name of separation of church and state, the self-centeredness of an autonomy outlook will become increasingly evident. Consciously or unconsciously, selfish and other base motives arise within us continually, and without countervailing influences, there is nothing in an autonomy outlook to ensure that the well-being of others will be protected.
When autonomy rules, then, scientists, family members, and others are predisposed to act on the basis of their own autonomous perspectives, and the risk to others is real. Herein lies the danger of autonomy-based thinking, a danger that is similar to that attending a utility-oriented outlook. Protecting people’s choices is fine as long as all people are in a comparable position to make those choices. But if some people are in a very weak position economically or socially or physically, they may not be able to avail themselves of the same opportunities, even if under more equitable circumstances they would surely want to do so. In an autonomy-based approach, there is no commitment to justice, caring, or any other ethical standards that would safeguard those least able to stand up for themselves.
An autonomy justification is simply an insufficient basis for justifying a practice like human cloning. In other words, showing that a freedom would otherwise be curtailed is not a sufficient argument to justify an action. We have learned this lesson the hard way, by allowing scientific inquiry to proceed unfettered. The Nuremberg Code resulted from research atrocities that were allowed to occur because it was not recognized that there are other ethical considerations that can be more important than scientific and personal freedom (autonomy).16
While the autonomy justification itself is flawed, there is more to say about it as a basis for defending human cloning. For even if it were an adequate type of ethical justification–which it is not–it is far from clear that it would actually justify the practice. An honest, complete autonomy-based evaluation of human cloning would have to consider the autonomy of all persons involved, including the people produced through cloning, and not just the autonomy of researchers and people desiring to have clones. Of the many considerations that would need to be taken into account if the autonomy of the clones were taken seriously, space will only permit the examination of two here.
First, human cloning involves a grave risk to the clone’s life. There is no plausible way to undertake human cloning at this point without a major loss of human life. In the process of cloning the sheep Dolly, 276 failed attempts occurred, including the death of several so-called “defective” clones. An alternative process used to clone monkeys added the necessary destruction of embryonic life to these other risks. It involved transferring the genetic material from each of the cells in an eight-celled embryo to other egg cells in order to attempt to produce eight so-called clones (or, more properly, identical siblings). Subsequent mammal cloning has continued the large-scale fatalities and deformities that unavoidably accompany cloning research. Were these experimental technologies to be applied to human beings, the evidence and procedures themselves show that many human embryos, fetuses, and infants would be lost–and many others deformed–whatever the process. This tragedy would be compounded by the fact that it is unlikely human cloning research would be limited to a single location. Rather, similar mistakes and loss of human life would be occurring almost simultaneously at various private and public research sites.
Normally, experimentation on human beings is allowed only with their explicit consent. (Needless to say, it is impossible to obtain a clone’s consent to be brought into existence through cloning.) An exception is sometimes granted in the case of a child, including one still in the womb, who has a verifiable medical problem which experimental treatment may be able to cure or help. However, human cloning is not covered by this exception for two reasons. First, there is no existing human being with a medical problem in the situation in which a human cloning experiment would be attempted. Second, even if that were not an obstacle, there is typically no significant therapeutic benefit to the clone in the many scenarios for which cloning has been proposed. For the experiment to be ethical, there would need to be therapeutic benefit to the clone so huge as to outweigh the substantial likelihood of the death or deformity that occurred in the Dolly experiment. To proceed with human cloning at this time, then, would involve a massive assault on the autonomy of all clones produced, whether they lived or died.
There is also a second way that human cloning would conflict with the autonomy of the people most intimately involved in the practice, that is, the clones themselves. Human cloning would radically weaken the family structure and relationships of the clone and therefore be fundamentally at odds with their most basic interests. Consider the confusion that arises over even the most basic relationships involved. Are the children who result from cloning really the siblings or the children of their “parents”–really the children or the grandchildren of their “grandparents”? Genetics suggests one answer and age the other. Regardless of any future legal resolutions of such matters, child clones (not to mention others inside and outside the family) will almost certainly experience confusion. Such confusion will impair their psychological and social well being–in fact, their very sense of identity. A host of legal entanglements, including inheritance issues, will also result.
This situation is problematic enough where a clearly identified family is involved. But during the experimental phase in particular, identifying the parents of clones produced in a laboratory may be even more troublesome. Is the donor of the genetic material automatically the parent? What about the donor of the egg into which the genetic material is inserted? If the genetic material and egg are simply donated anonymously for experimental purposes, does the scientist who manipulates them and produces a child from them become the parent? Who will provide the necessary love and care for the damaged embryo, fetus, or child that results when mistakes are made and it is so much easier just to discard them?
As the U.S. National Bioethics Advisory Commission’s report has observed (echoed more recently by the report of the President’s Council on Bioethics), human cloning “invokes images of manufacturing children according to specification. The lack of acceptance this implies for children who fail to develop according to expectations, and the dominance it introduces into the parent-child relationship, is viewed by many as fundamentally at odds with the acceptance, unconditional love, and openness characteristic of good parenting.”17 “It just doesn’t make sense,” to quote Ian Wilmut, who objected strenuously to the notion of cloning humans after he succeeded in producing the sheep clone Dolly.18 He was joined by U.S. President Clinton, who quickly banned the use of federal funds for human cloning research, and by the World Health Organization, who summarily labeled human cloning ethically unacceptable.19 Their reaction resonates with many, who typically might want to “have” a clone, but would not want to “be” one. What is the difference? It is the intuitive recognition that while the option of cloning may expand the autonomy of the person producing the clone, it undermines the autonomy of the clone.
So the autonomy justification, like the utility justification, is much more problematic than it might at first appear to be. We would do better not even to attempt to justify human cloning by appealing to this type of justification because of its inherent shortcomings. But if we are to invoke it, we must be honest and pay special attention to the autonomy of the person most intimately involved in the cloning, the clone. Particular appeals to “freedom” or “choice” may seem persuasive. But if only the autonomy of people other than clones is in view, or only one limited aspect of a clone’s autonomy, then such appeals must be rejected.
As noted near the outset of the chapter, there is a third type of proposed justification for human cloning which moves us more explicitly into the realm of theological reflection: the destiny justification. While other theological arguments against cloning have been advanced in the literature to date,20 many of them are somehow related to the matter of destiny. According to this justification, it is part of our God-given destiny to exercise complete control over our reproductive process. In fact, Richard Seed, in one of his first in-depth interviews after announcing his intentions to clone human beings commercially, made this very argument.21 No less a theologian, President Clinton offered the opposite view when he issued the ban on human cloning. Rather than seeing cloning as human destiny, he rejected it as “playing God.”22 Whether or not we think it wise to take our theological cues from either of these individuals, what are we to make of the proposed destiny justification itself? Is human cloning in line with God’s purposes for us?
To begin with, there are indeed problems with playing God the way that proponents of human cloning would have us do. For example, God can take utility and autonomy considerations into account in ways that people cannot. God knows the future, including every consequence of every consequence of all our actions, people do not. God loves all persons equally, without bias, and is committed and able to understand and protect the freedom of everyone, people are not. Moreover, there are other ways that the pursuit of utility and autonomy are troubling from a theological perspective.
The utility of human cloning, first of all, is that we can gain some benefit by producing clones. But using other people without their consent for our ends is a violation of their status as beings created in the image of God. People have a God-given dignity that prevents us from using them as mere means to achieve our purposes. Knowing that people are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), biblical writers in both the Old and New Testaments periodically invoke this truth to argue that human beings should not be demeaned in various ways (e.g., Gen. 9:6; James 3:9). Since plants and animals are never said to be created in God’s image, it is not surprising that they can be treated in ways (including killing) that would never be acceptable if people were in view (cf. Gen. 9:3 with 9:6).
An autonomy-based justification of human cloning is no more acceptable than a utility-based justification from a theological perspective. Some Christian writers, such as Allen Verhey, have helpfully observed that autonomy, understood in a particular way, is a legitimate biblical notion. As he explains, under the sovereignty of God, acknowledging the autonomy of the person can help ensure respect for and proper treatment of people made in God’s image.23 There is a risk here, however, because the popular ethics of autonomy has no place for God in it. It is autonomy “over” God, not autonomy “under” God. The challenge is to affirm the critical importance of respect for human beings, and for their freedom and responsibility to make decisions that profoundly affect their lives, but to recognize that such freedom requires God. More specifically, such freedom requires the framework in which autonomy is under God, not over God, a framework in which respecting freedom is not just wishful or convenient thinking that gives way as soon as individuals or society as a whole have more to gain by disregarding it. It must be rooted in something that unavoidably and unchangeably ‘is.” In other words, it must be rooted in God, in the creation of human beings in the image of God.
God is the creator, and we worship God as such. Of course, people are creative as well, being the images of God that they are. So what is the difference between God’s creation of human beings, as portrayed in the book of Genesis, and human procreation as happens daily all over the world (also mandated by God in Genesis)? Creation is “ex nihilo,” out of nothing. That means, in the first sense, that God did not just rearrange already existing materials. God actually brought into being a material universe where nothing even existed before. However, God’s creation “ex nihilo” suggests something more. It suggests that there was no agenda outside of God that God was following–nothing outside of God that directed what were acceptable options. When it came to the human portion of creation, God created us to be the way God deemed best.
It is no accident that we call what we do when we have babies “procreation.” “Pro” means “for” or “forth.” To be sure, we do bring babies “forth.” But the deeper meaning here is “for.” We bring new human beings into the world “for” someone or something. To be specific, we continue the line of human beings for God, in accordance with God’s mandate to humanity at the beginning to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). We also create for the people whom we help bring into being. We help give them life, and they are the ones most affected by our actions. What is particularly significant about this “procreation,” this “creation for,” is that by its very nature it is subject to an outside agenda, to God’s agenda primarily, and secondarily to the needs of the child being created.
In this light, the human cloning mindset is hugely problematic. With unmitigated pride it claims the right to create rather than procreate. It looks neither to God for the way that he has intended human beings to be procreated and raised by fathers and mothers who are the secondary, that is, genetic source of their life; nor does it look primarily to the needs of the one being procreated. As we have seen, it looks primarily to the cloner’s own preferences or to whatever value system one chooses to prioritize (perhaps the “good of society,” etc.). In other words, those operating out of the human cloning mindset see themselves as Creator rather than procreator. This is the kind of aspiring to be God for which God has consistently chastised people, and for which God has ultimately wreaked havoc on many a society and civilization.
Leon Kass has observed that we have traditionally used the word “procreation” for having children because we have viewed the world, and human life in particular, as created by God. We have understood our creative involvement in terms of and in relation to God’s creation.24 Today we increasingly orient more to the material world than to God. We are more impressed with the gross national product than with the original creation. So we more commonly talk in terms of re”production” rather than pro”creation.” In the process, we associate people more closely with things, with products, than with the God of creation. No wonder our respect for human life is deteriorating. We become more like that with which we associate. If we continue on this path, if our destiny is to clone ourselves, then our destiny is also, ultimately, to lose all respect for ourselves, to our peril.
Claims about utility, autonomy, or destiny, then, are woefully inadequate to justify human cloning. In fact, a careful look at any of these types of justification shows that they provide compelling reasons instead to reject human cloning. To stand up and say so may become more and more difficult in our “brave new world.” As the culture increasingly promotes production and self-assertion, it will take courage to insist in the new context of cloning that there is something more important. But such a brave new word, echoing the Word of old, is one that we must be bold to speak.
Posted: August 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm
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by John Wesley Hall Criminal Defense Lawyer and Search and seizure law consultant Little Rock, Arkansas Contact / The Book http://www.johnwesleyhall.com
2003-16, online since Feb. 24, 2003
Fourth Amendment cases, citations, and links
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“If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It isn’t, and they don’t.” Me
I still learn something new every day. Pete Townshend, The Who 50th Anniversary Tour, “The Who Live at Hyde Park” (Showtime 2015)
“I can’t talk about my singing. I’m inside it. How can you describe something you’re inside of?” Janis Joplin
“Love work; hate mastery over others; and avoid intimacy with the government.” Shemaya, in the Thalmud
“A system of law that not only makes certain conduct criminal, but also lays down rules for the conduct of the authorities, often becomes complex in its application to individual cases, and will from time to time produce imperfect results, especially if one’s attention is confined to the particular case at bar. Some criminals do go free because of the necessity of keeping government and its servants in their place. That is one of the costs of having and enforcing a Bill of Rights. This country is built on the assumption that the cost is worth paying, and that in the long run we are all both freer and safer if the Constitution is strictly enforced.” Williams v. Nix, 700 F. 2d 1164, 1173 (8th Cir. 1983) (Richard Sheppard Arnold, J.), rev’d Nix v. Williams, 467 US. 431 (1984).
“The criminal goes free, if he must, but it is the law that sets him free. Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence.” Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 659 (1961).
“Any costs the exclusionary rule are costs imposed directly by the Fourth Amendment.” Yale Kamisar, 86 Mich.L.Rev. 1, 36 n. 151 (1987).
“There have been powerful hydraulic pressures throughout our history that bear heavily on the Court to water down constitutional guarantees and give the police the upper hand. That hydraulic pressure has probably never been greater than it is today.” Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 39 (1968) (Douglas, J., dissenting).
“The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their property.” Entick v. Carrington, 19 How.St.Tr. 1029, 1066, 95 Eng. Rep. 807 (C.P. 1765)
“It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people. And so, while we are concerned here with a shabby defrauder, we must deal with his case in the context of what are really the great themes expressed by the Fourth Amendment.” United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56, 69 (1950) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting)
“The course of true law pertaining to searches and seizures, as enunciated here, has notto put it mildlyrun smooth.” Chapman v. United States, 365 U.S. 610, 618 (1961) (Frankfurter, J., concurring).
“A search is a search, even if it happens to disclose nothing but the bottom of a turntable.” Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321, 325 (1987)
“For the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection. … But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected.” Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967)
Experience should teach us to be most on guard to protect liberty when the Governments purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. United States v. Olmstead, 277 U.S. 438, 479 (1925) (Brandeis, J., dissenting)
Libertythe freedom from unwarranted intrusion by governmentis as easily lost through insistent nibbles by government officials who seek to do their jobs too well as by those whose purpose it is to oppress; the piranha can be as deadly as the shark. United States v. $124,570, 873 F.2d 1240, 1246 (9th Cir. 1989)
“You can’t always get what you want / But if you try sometimes / You just might find / You get what you need.” Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
“In Germany, they first came for the communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Catholic. Then they came for meand by that time there was nobody left to speak up.” Martin Niemller (1945) [he served seven years in a concentration camp]
You know, most men would get discouraged by now. Fortunately for you, I am not most men! —Pep Le Pew
Posted: July 31, 2016 at 5:50 am
TimeMagazine’s recent cover story “The Childfree Life” has generated a good deal of controversy and commentary. The photo that graces the cover of the edition pretty much sums up the argument: a young, fit couple lounge languidly on a beach and gaze up at the camera with blissful smilesand no child anywhere in sight.
What the editors want us to accept is that this scenario is not just increasingly a fact in our country, but that it is morally acceptable as well, a lifestyle choice that some people legitimately make. Whereas in one phase of the feminist movement, “having it all” meant that a woman should be able to both pursue a career and raise a family, now it apparently means a relationship and a career without the crushing encumbrance of annoying, expensive, and demanding children.
There is no question that childlessness is on the rise in theUnited States. Our birthrate is the lowest in recorded history, surpassing even the crash in reproduction that followed the economic crash of the 1930’s. We have not yet reached the drastic levels found in Europe (inItaly, for example, one in four women never give birth), but childlessness has risen in our country across all ethnic and racial groups, even those that have traditionally put a particular premium on large families.
What is behind this phenomenon? The article’s author spoke to a variety of women who had decided not to have children and found a number of different reasons for their decision. Some said that they simply never experienced the desire for children; others said that their careers were so satisfying to them that they couldn’t imagine taking on the responsibility of raising children; still others argued that in an era when bringing up a child costs upward of $250,000, they simply couldn’t afford to have even one baby; and the comedian Margaret Cho admitted, bluntly enough, “Babies scare me more than anything.” A researcher at the London School of Economics weighed in to say that there is a tight correlation between intelligence and childlessness: the smarter you are, it appears, the less likely you are to have children!
In accord with the tenor of our time, those who have opted out of the children game paint themselves, of course, as victims. They are persecuted, they say, by a culture that remains relentlessly baby-obsessed and, in the words of one of the interviewees, “oppressively family-centric.” Patricia O’Laughlin, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist, specializes in helping women cope with the crushing expectations of a society that expects them to reproduce. As an act of resistance, many childless couples have banded together for mutual support. One such group in Nashville comes together for activities such as “zip-lining, canoeing, and a monthly dinner the foodie couple in the group organizes.” One of their members, Andrea Reynolds, was quoted as saying, “We can do anything we want, so why wouldn’t we?”
What particularly struck me in this article was that none of the people interviewed ever moved outside of the ambit of his or her private desire. Some people, it seems, are into children, and others aren’t, just as some people like baseball and others prefer football. No childless couple would insist that every couple remain childless, and they would expect the same tolerance to be accorded to them from the other side. But never, in these discussions, was reference made to values that present themselves in their sheer objectivity to the subject, values that make a demand on freedom. Rather, the individual will was consistently construed as sovereign and self-disposing.
And this represents a sea change in cultural orientation. Up until very recent times, the decision whether or not to have children would never have been simply “up to the individual.” Rather, the individual choice would have been situated in the context of a whole series of values that properly condition and shape the will: family, neighborhood, society, culture, the human race, nature, and ultimately, God. We can see this so clearly in the initiation rituals of primal peoples and in the formation of young people in practically every culture on the planet until the modern period. Having children was about carrying on the family name and tradition; it was about contributing to the strength and integrity of one’s society; it was about perpetuating the great adventure of the human race; it was a participation in the dynamisms of nature itself. And finally, it was about cooperating with God’s desire that life flourish: “And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it” (Gen. 9:7).
None of this is meant to be crushing to the will, but liberating. When these great values present themselves to our freedom, we are drawn out beyond ourselves and integrated into great realities that expand us and make us more alive.
It is finally with relief and a burst of joy that we realize that our lives are not about us. Traditionally, having children was one of the primary means by which this shift in consciousness took place. That increasingly this liberation is forestalled and that people are finding themselves locked in the cold space of what they sovereignly choose, I find rather sad. Originally posted at Real Clear Religion. Used with author’s permission. (Image credit: TIME Magazine)
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Posted: July 29, 2016 at 3:17 am
List of Physical Micronations
This page documents micronational entities which are reliably known to have projected one or more aspects of their operations into the corporeal world. This might involve any of the following:
claiming, but not holding legal title to or occupying a defined physical territory on Earth, or on other planets or asteroids.
claiming and holding legal title to but not occupying, a defined physical territory on Earth.
claiming, holding legal title to and physically occupying a defined physical territory on Earth.
producing original stamps, coins, banknotes, flags, medals, regalia etc in commercial quantities, via commercial processes, either for commercial sale or for specific publicly-documented internal purposes.
creating and maintaining group-specific monuments, buildings and structures.
conducting publicly-documented, group-specific activities (such as inaugurations, commemorations, media briefings, meetings of principals and social gatherings) – in person.
Name (short form)
Name (long form)
Rural property near Cooma + private residence in Sydney suburb of Narrabeen + various other properties in New South Wales.
+61 2 4871 2483
(also known as Kingdom of Lindisfaras)
Joseph “Little Joe” Rigoli
Rua Sacadura Cabral,
Rio de JaneiroRJ CEP 20.221-160
State of Freedom
To be included in this list, a micronation must be able to demonstrate that it has been in existence for a minimum of 12 months. Micronations whose members publicly advocate the prosecution of acts of criminality will not be listed.
If the micronation is active or inactive, a link to its website is provided.
If the micronation is defunct, a link is provided to the following: (i) an archived version of the micronation’s website – or if that does not exist, (ii) the relevant Wikipedia article about the micronation – or if that does not exist, (iii) a report about the micronation published by a reliable print media source.
If the micronation lists an email address on its website, it is linked with an .
If the micronation has no published email address, and only allows form-based communication via its website, no email address is listed.
For active micronations, the primary contact is the founder or current leader – whichever is most relevant.
For inactive or defunct micronations, the primary contact is the founder or last known leader.
The name of the primary contact is their actual legal name; false names, pseudonymous identities and assumed styles and titularies are not listed.
If the primary contact has a known publicly-listed telephone number, it is listed below their name.
If the primary contact is known to be deceased, the entry is marked with a
Where information is uncertain or unknown, it is marked with a ?
The contact location is the primary contact’s most recent known primary place of residence.
Where information is uncertain or unknown, it is marked with a ?
Physical territory claimed:
If the micronation maintains claims over one or more pieces of physical geography on Earth or on planets, planetoids, natural satellites, asteroids or other heavenly bodies elsewhere in the universe, the entry is marked with a .
If the micronation does not maintain any such claim, the entry is marked with a .
Physical territory owned / occupied / controlled:
If the micronation maintains claims over one or more pieces of physical geography on Earth or on planets, planetoids, natural satellites, asteroids or other heavenly bodies elsewhere in the universe and shows credible evidence that it, or one or more of its members physically owns, occupies and otherwise exercises control over the territory in question, the entry is marked with a .
If the micronation does not physically own, occupy and otherwise exercise control over the territory which it claims, the entry is marked with a .
If the micronation physically owns, occupies and controls part of the territory it claims, the entry is marked with a if the area under its control is less than or equal to 50% of the claim, and if it is 51% or greater of the claim.
Active = the micronation’s website has been updated within the previous 12 months, or offline activity is credibly known to have occurred.
Inactive = there is no credible evidence of online or offline activity by the micronation in the previous 12 months, but its domain and website remain registered and publicly accessible, and there is a credible reason to believe that this indicates a willingness or intent on the part of those involved to revive the project at some future juncture.
Defunct = the micronation has entirely ceased to exist. There is no credible evidence of online or offline activity of any sort in the previous 12 months, and no credible reason to assume this is likely to change. Alternatively, those involved in creating or maintaining it have announced the termination of the project, are credibly known to be no longer involved, or are no longer contactable. If the micronation possessed a website, that site may still be publicly accessible by default (ie without the need for human intervention) – but it is more likely than not to now only be accessible via third party archives, or not at all.
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Posted: July 18, 2016 at 3:32 pm
by Adrian Calderone
Mr. Adrian Calderone provides a thorough explanation of transhumanism, which attempts to free mankind from its biological limitations by employing such methods as genetic engineering. Calderone traces its foundations back to secular humanism the modern religion of the Western world.
Homiletic & Pastoral Review
28 31 & 41 43
Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA, June 2008
The political philosopher Francis Fukuyama called it the world’s most dangerous idea.1 He was talking about transhumanism.
Just what is transhumanism and why is it so dangerous?
Like many other ideas, it can imply different things to different people. But generally, transhumanism refers to an attempt to free humanity from its biological limitations. Today, transhumanists advocate the use of various types of rapidly developing technology, especially bioengineering, to accomplish this purpose. Some transhumanists imagine the creation of a new type of human being. That is, a human being with biological features so far removed from natural human biology as to warrant classification as “post-human.”
Transhumanists hold firmly to Darwinian materialism. We know that Darwinian evolution is predicated upon the assumptions of random variation and natural selection. But suppose, through genetic engineering, we can create our own genetic variations perhaps with inheritable traits. The transhumanists hope to achieve an artificial, human-guided evolution, at least on the level of microevolution, as well as the creation of “post humans.”
Ask a person what he considers to be the most dangerous thing in the world and most probably the answer would be atomic weapons they can eradicate several hundred thousand human beings in a flash. But with transhumanism, you can displace nature with technology and subvert natural human biology.
Sir Julian Huxley is credited with coining the term transhumanism in 1957.2 He wrote:
As we shall see later, use of the term transhumanism predates Sir Julian Huxley by several centuries. Nevertheless, we can credit Sir Julian with putting the name to a modern movement that seeks to modify human beings through technological manipulation in order to transcend human biology. The technology can include genetic engineering and interfaces between the human body and machines.
One definition offered by the World Transhumanist Association3 is this:
Transhumanists see it as an ethical imperative to use technology to transcend physical barriers to human potentials, and to proceed with their project of humanly guided evolution.
What has happened in the past century is the development of science and technology at a pace so fast and in so many different specialties that one scarcely has the opportunity to understand one development before it is made obsolete by another development.
There are four areas especially in which we’ve seen such rapid advancement in the past twenty to thirty years: biotechnology, information technology, wireless technology and nanotechnology.
In biotechnology we see the genetic manipulation of life. In information technology we see the ever-expanding reach of digital information processing to the point where hardly any household in the developed world is without some type of personal computer. Artificial Intelligence (AI) enables computers to “learn” from experience and modify their own operational procedures without human intervention.
As for wireless, the Internet is accessible without land lines or physical hook-ups. Everywhere you turn there is someone talking on a cell phone. Nanotechnology deals with the manufacture and use of very small particles, which can include simple materials or even tiny machines with interacting parts machines, for example, that can be introduced into the human body to cut away arterial plaque or perform operations on a submicroscopic level. We still don’t know all of the potentials of nanotechnology. Keep in mind, also, that these technologies can be merged.
These technologies enable us to do things inconceivable even a few decades ago. These new potentials present new dimensions of ethical dilemmas.
Suppose you can insert portions of the genetic material of one type of being into the genetic material of another type of being. In fact, this has been done. Who would have thought to introduce the genes of fireflies into a tobacco plant to create a plant that glows in the dark? Yet this was done over twenty years ago. The cloning of animals, transgenic plants and a host of other developments are historical events, not futuristic speculations. A U.S. patent application is on file detailing the creation of an artificial life form.4
Genetic engineering enables us to use living organisms bacteria for example as miniature drug factories to manufacture pharmaceuticals that otherwise could not be produced. Genetically modified viruses can be used to introduce modified DNA into target organisms.
But suppose one merges portions of human genetic material with portions of the genetic material of an animal an animal, say, with the genetic instructions for growth of human organs, or humans with animal features. What have we produced? And suppose that the chimerical being we’ve created can reproduce itself. What is the moral status of such beings? What is one to think about the deliberate creation of “subhuman beings” or “superhuman beings” through genetic engineering? We believe that the human soul does not arise from matter but that God creates and infuses a rational soul into a human being at conception. This is clear enough from human procreation. But what of the prospect of artificially assembling DNA, inserting that DNA into a cell, and letting that cell grow into an organism? How close do we have to be to the DNA characteristic of human beings for the organism to be considered human? Suppose a gorilla body can be combined with a human brain. Does God implant a human soul into it? How do we know unless we let the organism grow and see if it matures into a rational being? Does the possibility of salvation apply to homo artificialis as it does to homo Sapiens?
Yet genetic engineering can have legitimate therapeutic purposes, for example, to overcome naturally occurring genetic abnormalities, or to provide new cancer therapies.5 Genetic engineering and other technologies also might be used to enhance the genetic potential of healthy people, for example, to increase lifespan.
There is also now the possibility of implanting computer chips in the human brain. Neural implants, human-computer interfaces these are concepts that just a few years ago were the subjects of science fiction. Today, they are the subjects of U.S. patents.6 One should also consider the possibility of wireless communication between a neural computer implant and some remote control center. How do Catholic moral principles apply to such things? Until now, we’ve not had to think about a coherent moral position in the face of such possibilities. That’s changed.
It’s not only personal morality that needs to be addressed. We also have to think about social and political effects. One of the criticisms of all this genetic enhancement is that it will be available only to the wealthy. Will we have society stratified into classes of the “genetically enhanced” and the “genetically deprived”? What new weapons will be unleashed upon us in future wars?
As I stated earlier, Sir Julian was not the first person to conceive of a process of transhumanization. Let’s go back several centuries. Before there was a Julian Huxley there was a Dante Alighieri. Dante expressed the idea of transhumanization in Canto I of Paradiso, written sometime in the early 1300s. Dante wrote, “Transhumanizing cannot be signified in words therefore let the example suffice him for whom grace reserves the experience.”
Transhumanization is something ineffable, something beyond the ability of words to encompass. It can only be experienced, and that is a matter of grace. One can also refer to the Epistles, where St. Paul often talks about being a new creation in Christ and being sons of God through faith in Christ.7
Transhumanization is not a concept alien to Christianity. Quite the contrary, it is our Christian hope. But in Christianity transhumanization is a matter of God’s grace. Although we can begin the process of transhumanization in this life by living in the state of God’s grace, completion of the process is meant for a future life, an eternal life, of intimacy with God. In our present life in this world, grace does not destroy or change human nature, but works through human nature and perfects it. Through grace we are transformed into images of Christ. But we must await our resurrection for final transformation in the world to come. In the journey of our lives we must take as our companions the Christian virtues of patience and perseverance.
How, then, did we get from Christian transhumanization to biological transhumanism?
I want to offer a very cursory review of certain philosophical developments that have led up to secular humanism, which has become the de facto religion of the Western world. Transhumanism is an extension of secular humanism. If we use the image of a tree, secular humanism is the trunk, transhumanism one of the branches and the roots are planted in the soil of unbelief. This unbelief is not just ordinary atheist materialism. That’s been around for millennia. Rather, it is something just a few centuries old. It is not so much a non-God view as it is an anti-God view. More particularly, it is an anti-Christianity percolating through modern culture.
First, let’s turn to the Enlightenment, which is a foundation of modern secular humanism. The Enlightenment embraced a turning away from religion in general and Christianity in particular. The Enlightenment thinkers weren’t all atheists. Many were deists who believed in a creator, but one not personally involved with creation on an ongoing basis.
However, the question arises: if you don’t put your trust in a God who takes a personal interest in the world, then in what do you put your trust? Throughout history there runs the theme of salvation and the hope of it. In what do we place our trust? Where is our hope?
The Enlightenment thinker places his trust in the human potential to remake society by human reasoning and human will.8 The basis for hope is science and technology. Remember that the Enlightenment period of the 1700s was also a period of the rapid growth of scientific discovery. It must have been intoxicating. Here was the way to truth in the scientific method. One aspect, then, of the Enlightenment is positivism, a philosophy based upon sense experience and relying only on scientific observations for knowledge about the external world. Concomitantly, Enlightenment thought rejects tradition, the supernatural and revelation.
Now, social order cannot be achieved without values. So, where do values come from? The scientific method doesn’t provide values, only data. Also, for some time philosophy in Europe had been turning inward, away from the objectively knowable external world into the subjective operations of the mind. Eventually, there came from this a subjectivity with respect to values, or moral relativism.
A post-Enlightenment philosopher, Nietzsche, saw inherent weaknesses in Enlightenment liberalism. But, instead of turning back to the pre-modern, common sense philosophy of Aristotle and Aquinas, he followed the thread of modern philosophy to a logical end point. God is dead. What’s more, according to Nietzsche, we killed him. God and religion became our enemies by limiting our freedom. In the end there is nothing but will to power. We are what we will to be.
The twentieth century atheistic philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre was very influential in promoting existentialism.9 He was not an optimistic person. The concluding observation in one of his plays was, “Hell is other people.” Sartre defined existentialism by asserting the principle that existence precedes essence. This was the reversal of centuries of philosophical understanding that held that essence was first. This may seem like an academic issue of concern only to ivory tower philosophers, perhaps arguing over the matter at two o’clock in the morning in some cafe. But ideas have consequences, and one of the consequences of this idea is the slaughter of millions of unborn children each year.
Pro-lifers, for example, argue that the fertilized human ovum is, from the moment of conception, in essence, a human being. The attributes and powers we normally associate with fully developed humans a nervous system, the ability to move and think, self awareness, etc. are present in the human embryo as potentialities that, in the course of natural development, unfold or outwardly express themselves. In an ontological ordering essence precedes existence.
The pro-choice position, at least among some, is that an unborn child does not have the attributes and powers of a human being and is therefore not morally equivalent to a human being. In other words, existence precedes essence.
The dictum that existence precedes essence means that there is no human nature. According to Sartre, we invent and make ourselves. Sartre, like Aquinas, held that there can be no human nature unless there is a God who designs it. But Sartre took his atheism to its logical conclusion and denied the objective existence of human nature. If we do not believe that there is a human nature created by God, there is no level of dehumanization to which we cannot fall in our headlong rush to engineer human evolution.
We are running up against a wall of misconceptions, prejudices, faulty valuations and linguistic confusions firmly cemented together by existentialism. It takes great ingenuity and effort to render a population oblivious to common sense and reality. But our educational institutions, mass media and public officials have proven up to the task.
Modern humanism, founded upon Enlightenment thought and modified by the influence of Nietzsche and Sartre, has several important features.
Add to these features of secularism the powers given to us by technology, and the result is transhumanism. Transhumanism is the new face of eugenics, with this difference: in the older conception of eugenics human biological reproduction is limited by law or social pressure to those deemed to have the physical and intellectual qualifications defined by the ruling elite. It is like breeding horses or dogs. But the biology of reproduction remains natural. With transhumanism the biology is engineered.
The Church has begun to deal with transhumanism. The 2002 document of the International Theological Commission entitled Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God addresses some of the issues I have mentioned. This document warns against mankind usurping the role of God. “Neither science nor technology are ends in themselves; what is technically possible is not necessarily also reasonable or ethical.”11 The document also deals with cloning, germ line genetic engineering, enhancement genetic engineering and therapeutic interventions.12
But there is an ethical labyrinth to journey through that becomes ever more complex. In trying to help students find their way through complex philosophical ideas, one philosophy teacher used the metaphor of the golden string given by Ariadne to Theseus to find his way through the labyrinth after killing the Minotaur.’13
What’s our golden thread? How do we find our way through the ethical labyrinth of transhumanism? It has to be the fundamental principles derived from our religion. What does it mean to be a human person? What is our mission and destiny as human beings? If you exclude God from consideration there is no way through the labyrinth, even for well-meaning secularist philosophers such as Fukuyama who do see the dangers ahead.
Through it all we have to remember that the world has lost sight of something precious a vision seen only through the eyes of faith the vision of something supernatural and eternal.14 There will always be a little flame of faith shining in the wilderness of this world. The spirits of darkness are afraid of it and try to snuff it out, because as long as it shines there is the potential for the world to catch fire and for the grace of God to illuminate everything. As Catholics we have to keep this vision always in sight for ourselves and continually present it to the world.
Mr. Adrian Calderone graduated from Manhatten College with B. Ch. E. and M. E. degrees in chemical engineering. He spent more than three years living and traveling in Asia. Having earned his Juris Doctorate from New York Law School, he now practices intellectual property law. He and his wife Jo live in Brooklyn, New York and have three daughters. His last article in HPR appeared in October 2007.
This item 8384 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org
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Posted: at 3:30 pm
Supreme Court Declares That the Second AmendmentGuarantees an Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms — June 26, 2008
Fairfax, VA Leaders of the National Rifle Association (NRA) praised the Supreme Courts historic ruling overturning Washington, D.C.s ban on handguns and on self-defense in the home, in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller.
This is a great moment in American history. It vindicates individual Americans all over this country who have always known that this is their freedom worth protecting, declared NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. Our founding fathers wrote and intended the Second Amendment to be an individual right. The Supreme Court has now acknowledged it. The Second Amendment as an individual right now becomes a real permanent part of American Constitutional law.
Last year, the District of Columbia appealed a Court of Appeals ruling affirming that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms, and that the Districts bans on handguns, carrying firearms within the home and possession of functional firearms for self-defense violate that fundamental right.
Anti-gun politicians can no longer deny that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right, said NRA chief lobbyist Chris W. Cox. All law-abiding Americans have a fundamental, God-given right to defend themselves in their homes. Washington, D.C. must now respect that right.
Read the opinion (1 MB)
Highlights From The Heller Decision
On March 18, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in District of Columbia v. Heller.
Listen to the audio recording of the oral arguments (RealPlayer required)
View the transcript
The Court announced its decision to take the case in which plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the District’sgun ban last Fall. The District of Columbia appealed a lower courts ruling last year affirming that the Second Amendment of the Constitution protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, and that the Districts bans on handguns, carrying firearms within the home, and possession of loaded or operable firearms for self-defense violate that right.
In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that [T]he phrase the right of the people, when read intratextually and in light of Supreme Court precedent, leads us to conclude that the right in question is individual. The D.C. Circuit also rejected the claim that the Second Amendment does not apply to the District of Columbia because D.C. is not a state.
The case marks the first time a Second Amendment challenge to a firearm law has reached the Supreme Court since 1939.
Briefs filed on behalf of Heller and Washington D.C.
Amicus brief filed by the United States
Amicus briefs filed in support of Heller
Click the links below to read recently filed amicus briefs in support of Dick Anthony Heller in the upcoming case District of Columbia v. Heller.
Click the links below to read recently filed amicus briefs in support of Washington D.C.
Posted: July 12, 2016 at 5:33 am
This is a place for people who are or want to become Financially Independent (FI), which means not having to work for money.
Before proceeding further, please read the Rules & FAQ.
Financial Independence is closely related to the concept of Early Retirement/Retiring Early (RE) – quitting your job/career and pursuing other activities with your time. This subreddit deals primarily with Financial Independence, but additionally with some concepts around “RE”.
At its core, FI/RE is about maximizing your savings rate (through less spending and/or higher income) to achieve FI and have the freedom to RE as fast as possible. The purpose of this subreddit is to discuss FI/RE strategies, techniques, and lifestyles no matter if you’re retired or not, or how old you are.
FI/RE is about:
Discovering and achieving life goals: What would I do with my life if I didn’t have to work for money?”
Simplifying and redesigning your lifestyle to reduce spending. Your wants and needs aren’t written in stone, and less spending is powerful at any income level.
Working to increase your income and income streams with projects, side-gigs, and additional effort
Striving to save a large percentage (generally more than 50%) of your income to accelerate achieving FI
Investing to make your money work for you, and learning to manage/optimize those investments for the unique nature of FI/RE
FI/RE is NOT about:
Gaining wealth for the purpose of excessive consumption
Taking the slow road, or the traditional road to retirement
Becoming financially independent requires hard work and a healthy attitude towards money, but also a degree of privilege. When participating on this subreddit, please be mindful of the ways in which you are lucky.
Please read the FAQ and Rules above, then feel free to share your journey or ask for advice!
More to read
Books / Resources
Closely related subs
Regional Personal Finance
Lifestyle (frugal) subs
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