Newt Gingrich Understands Why Transhumanism a Pro-Life Issue

Bioethics   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Jan 31, 2012   |   1:47PM   |   Washington, DC

Many people who read my work elsewhere think transhumanism movement is not an important pro-life issue.  It is so abstract an idea to them that they regularly wonder why I bother writing about it. 
I think it is simply because they don’t realize how much transhumanism is already in our consciousness.  Artificial human enhancements are depicted everywhere from TV (Chuck) to movies (Captain America and Limitless) to video games (Deus Ex.)

And whether parents realize it or not, transhumansim is especially in the consciousness of our children.  In a recent conversation, my own son asked me why I don’t like human enhancements.  He was distressed and asked, “Then how can I become a super hero?” My husband commented that he wanted to be a super hero too when he was nine and every boy in the world wants to be a super hero.  I responded that our son’s generation may actually be able to fulfill those childhood and childish “dreams” of becoming enhanced.

This is the first time in history technology may make it possible for people to be able to chase those fantastical “super-hero” dreams of their youth with cognitive enhancing drugs, genetic engineering or artificial intelligence.  The problem with childhood fantasies is that children often cannot see the possible devastating effects of drugs or invasive procedures on their otherwise healthy bodies.  I fear without bringing transhumanism out of the shadows and into the light for scrutiny, an entire generation may not be equipped with enough insight to resist the overwhelming pressure to enhance simply because everyone else is doing it.

Even if your everyday person is not aware of transhumanism, our leaders are aware, or should be.  Transhumanism was even a subject in the Republican Presidential debates.  Newt Gingrich was asked by Wolf Blitzer about genetic engineering and human enhancement.  Mother Jones reports Gingrich’s reply:

“These are at the heart of the next 40 years.  And we’ve got to understand: Somewhere on this planet there will be a dictatorship that uses science in a way that is truly grotesque. And then you’re gonna have, for example, a decision to make, if someone can participate in the Olympics who’s been genetically engineered. I mean you’re gonna have, there’s an array of different countries out there, some of which have values so lacking to any of us that you’re gonna have these kinds of things.”

“This may be the first time in some ways since leaving the Garden of Eden where we have to address the question of what it means to be human. And I think it’s also a time to be very aware of the fact the greatest of all sins is hubris, putting yourself before God. And that there is a really great danger posed by scientists and those technicians, who believe that they now have God-like powers. Because it defies the very essence of humans.” Note: Rebecca Taylor is a clinical laboratory specialist in molecular biology, and a practicing pro-life Catholic who writes at the bioethics blog Mary Meets Dolly. She has been writing and speaking about Catholicism and biotechnology for five years and has been interviewed on EWTN radio on topics from stem cell research and cloning to voting pro-life. Taylor has a B.S. in Biochemistry from University of San Francisco with a national certification in clinical Molecular Biology MB (ASCP).