Professor Julian Savulescu said that creating so-called designer babies could be considered a “moral obligation” as it makes them grow up into “ethically better children”. The expert in practical ethics said that we should actively give parents the choice to screen out personality flaws in their children as it meant they were then less likely to “harm themselves and others”. The academic, who is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics, made his comments in an article in the latest edition of Reader’s Digest. He explained that we are now in the middle of a genetic revolution and that although screening, for all but a few conditions, remained illegal it should be welcomed. –The Telegraph
By the time you read this, the article will have made national headlines and a huge splash across the blogsphere. And the most likely reaction you’re going to hear is: “Isn’t that horrible? How can someone be so heartless towards the smallest and weakest among us, the children?!?!”
And while I agree with the sentiment, sentiment isn’t enough. We’ve allowed those who oppose Christianity, and Christian values, the ground on which we stand long enough. We’ve allowed them to define the debate in purely emotional terms. The defense for this proposed practice is already outlined in one of the comments to the article above, and in the article itself.
The two arguments will be:
“When you choose who to date because they’re physically attractive, you’re already genetically engineering your children, so what are you worried about?”
“Isn’t for the greater good and happiness of all humankind that we genetically engineer our children? Aren’t we doing this for the children themselves, to make certain that each child can reach his or her full potential, and live a happy life?”
With what will we answer these questions? By matching emotion with emotion? If so, we will lose.
There is a crack in the argument presented for genetic engineering, a crack that’s so wide we should take advantage of it. The question we should ask is:
“Who defines of better?”
Okay, great — you want to make the world a better place. But who defines better? Okay, you only want to have children who will live a better life. But who defines better?
In the worldview of someone who believes their children can be engineered, children are clearly no more, and no less, than animals. And in a world where humans are animals, there is no way to define “better.” The entire exercise in making “better children,” by accepting that children are merely another form of animal life among a wide array of possible forms of animal life is, then, a bit of empty rhetoric.
But will we rise above the emotional response, and ask the hard questions, or will we continue to give the relativists the ground on which we stand?