the physical and intellectual quality of humankind, eliminating diseases and related defects?
Probably not the wise thing to do. Every time we mess with nature we screw up.
Plus, there is the question of what "improve" is - do we "improve" our intellect by making idiot-savants? Our physique by making large breasted women? Defects by eliminating all with brown eyes? I don't think we're NEAR smart enough to answer these questions.
Ease pain and suffering. Sure. Gene therapy anyone?
Gene therapy and diagnosis will be commonplace in future medical technologies. With such gene therapy, diseases, particularly degenerative diseases will be reduced. Genetic maladies such as mental retardation could be eliminated altogether. This will be a magnificent thing indeed!
Yes to all of the above, But, (isn't there always a but?), we have to face the reality of unintended consequences and the reality that we don't know what we don't know.
What if in our zeal to modify genes to "cure" what we know are problems, the sequence leads to mutations that we can not foresee?
What if in fixing the "degenerative" genes we start the ball rolling to uncontrollable, (and unforeseeable), gene mutations/modifications that are worse than the cure?
Science has brought us to the point of playing "God," but do we really know enough to assume that role?
Understanding that we stand on a threshold of human achievement, the thought of what we don't know is as scary to me as the thought of what we are capable of doing.
The day we can inject a gene to save a child a slow, harrowing death such as from cystic fibrosis will be a day to celebrate.
Once we did not understand the germ theory of disease, now we do. The same will be true for genetic diseases in the future. Having watched a child die of a painful congenital disease, I hope that future arrives soon. That will one one more horror for the human race to put behind us like routine death during childbirth, the plague, and gas gangrene.
There will be THOSE who are against any form of progress and growth because in their "belief" , one should not go beyond certain parameters; however, these are the people who will be left behind. The future belongs to those who break the rules, going beyond established parameters and paradigm to establish new ways of doing and seeing things. After all, we all CO-CREATORS with the ability to create a new, more humane world.
From a personal. and admittedly selfish perspective, I can understand the compassion of your response. I have endured similar circumstances in my life. From a personal perspective, I am with you 100%. But, even in our quest for cures and personal salvations, can we honestly ignore the potential problems of our meddling with nature?
If our genes are as intrinsically entwined as we seem to understand they are, should we proceed. Should we tweak one to accomplish "A" without fully understanding that there is a corollary affect on "B"?
I understand compassion and hope, but I think Wilderness nailed it. We are over our heads in this arena.
That must be one of those "deep" thoughts, because I don't understand what you mean.
We used to be in over our heads with bacteria and we are still struggling with viruses. But the answer is not improve medicine not to allow people to suffer and die.
I single locus spontaneous mutation is not part of a person's identity. It is a disease that happens to be genetic but is other no different to a disease that is bacterial, prior, virus or toxin.
We already know that exact gene that is taking people with cystic fibrosis, with breast cancer, with many genetic disease. I am boggled that you would just consign those people to horrible deaths because they go a mutations and so they... what, their 'true self' is a dead person and they should just lie down and die?
They are not their disease. They are just the person suffering from it. There are many good people I have known who had simple genetic diseases that will soon be curable and I celebrate that.
What honestly to you expect the down side to be? People are already being experimentally cured with gene therapy and they have not turned into a 'mutants' and destroyed New York with their heat ray vision yet. they just got better and went back to their families.
Wow! You and Rad Man really missed the point I was making. I was not saying genetic engineering was wrong. I was not saying we should not fix damaged genes that we have the capabilities to fix. I was not saying we should step back from it in awe and fear.
I was saying that the "big picture" concept of genetic engineering is an ocean we are only beginning to fathom. I do not think that our ability to map our genomes means we also have the understanding of possible consequences we don't even know that we don't know about.
You know, sort of like the old, "If a butterfly flaps its wings... etc." theory.
If we are talking about choosing your kid's eye color or trying to make some "super-man", sure--that is new ground and an ethical minefield. But curing disease, well, that's a good thing.
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