Bene Gene Modification

While there is much rightful concern among Christians about ethical issues related to genetic engineering, it is only fair to also point out occasions in which science can use genetic engineering to the advantage of humans and to do it well within morally accepted principles.  Olivia Judson in two New York Times Opinion pieces gives examples of ways in which genetic engineering is and/or can help humans.   The first article, Braking the Virus, explains how genetic modification of viruses can produce a safer vaccine against some diseases.  The second article,  A Genetically Engineered Swat, discusses a means for eradicating the mosquitoes that carry dengue fever by releasing genetically modified male mosquitoes – it is only the females which bite, so no one would be bitten by the modified mosquitoes, and the potential is that the mosquito population can be greatly reduced without the use of toxic insecticides.   

I mention these articles because sometimes people hear about “genetic engineering” and begin to fear that scientists playing god will sow the seeds of the destruction of the human race.  There is a great deal of legitimate science going on to benefit humanity, and this we ought not to lose sight of.  We do indeed need to pay attention to ethically questionable scientific study, but on the other hand not in a knee jerk emotional frenzy condemn all that science does, when in fact it has done some marvelous things to make life on earth better. 

Christians would do well to learn more science and understand it in order to ethically influence its direction rather than condemn its work (and benefits) without understanding it.  If we understood science better, we also would be in a better position to raise and discuss the ethical implications of various scientific work with the scientists themselves.

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