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Human Dignity and Bioethics: Essays Commissioned by the President's Council on Bioethics

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posted on Nov, 28 2008 @ 07:01 PM
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This was published March of this year and I found the read to be quite interesting and profound regardless of which side one is sitting on concerning the biotechnological age we are now living in.

Please take the time to read through and really consider what it could mean for humanity should we continue down the path we are forging. I think to me, the main question being asked is "at what cost concerning human dignity are we willing to pay in order to 'make life more desirable'?"

Are we really willing to manufacture "life" to fit some mold we think is ideal and thus perhaps destroy the very essence of humanity, which *does* include the imperfections and not only the positive aspects?

There is obviously a price that will be paid. Will the price really be minimal considering the "great things" that will be done for humanity? or will it be a great price?

I tend toward the latter. I am afraid that in the effort to make humanity "perfect" we will end up losing the true essense of what makes being human so valuable.

Anyway, to all those who have a few moments to spare, please read this VERY interesting thesis and share your thoughts.

The conspiracy minded should find great food for thought in this as well.

(this is only a section of it, but it was the section that caught at the very heart of what often troubles me about the world I am raising my children in)

www.bioethics.gov...



[edit on 28-11-2008 by justamomma]




posted on Nov, 28 2008 @ 07:07 PM
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reply to post by justamomma
 


You ought to read 'Brave New world" if you haven't already, it covers a lot of these themes

Personallly I think the more we alter ourselves, with medical procedures (excluding those for legitimate conditions), drugs, and expecially technology, the less human we become.

Particularly when we supplement ourselves with machines... life may be more convenient but I think we compensate with a loss of part of our souls. I seriously think some of these people who can.not.unplug. from their Ipods and Cellphones are soulless. We do not need to be that connected with each other; a man who doesn't know how to deal with himself when he is alone is not a man.



posted on Nov, 28 2008 @ 07:29 PM
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reply to post by asmeone2
 


I have not read it, but will make it a point to do so now. Thanks for the recommendation.

And great post. You are correct in what you have said. I accidentally washed my cell phone w/ a load of laundry
about a month ago and in the end, I decided that my mistake was grounds for expelling that bit of technology from my life. I have not missed it at all. It keeps me from being harrassed at any hour of the day from my well intentioned family and friends. I used to get frowned upon for not answering it whenever someone would call. I am quite happy with not having that pressure as I enjoy my time away from the connections. I love the company of those in my life, but sometimes I the precious moments I am alone and free to do with my time as I so choose.



posted on Nov, 28 2008 @ 09:56 PM
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I gave up using a cell phone about a year ago, and have not missed it.

The rest of my family are all "text addicts."

I am trying very hard to teach my kiddos that technology does NOT make life as easy as it seems to.

I like to use the computer to type books and keep in touch with a few people, sometimes to watch movies or listen to music, that's about it.

I think the same thing is starting to happen with plastic surgery and body modification in general; the shameful stigma is going away. There is of course nothing wrong IMO with being physically comfortable with one's body--I'll admit that there is a certain procedure I am trying to have, for comfort reasons--
--but I really frown on people who turn to plastic surgery just because they think it makes them look prettier and younger, or weight loss surgery just because they don't want the pain to loose the weight.

[edit on 28-11-2008 by asmeone2]



posted on Nov, 29 2008 @ 10:36 AM
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There is one thing to having an operation to make oneself more comfortable physically, and perhaps even comfortable w/ their appearance (it is a personal decision... the former I understand completely; the latter, not so much but again, so long as the person is willing.. although it is quite silly to put oneself in danger to fit into an appearance mold); but it is the altering of the core of what makes us human that terrifies me. It is the altering of our food, water, and just tampering with nature's design that concerns me GREATLY!

It is the direction that some of these scientists are looking to go into. Perfecting the human DNA, discarding those that are not.... and merging man WITH machine!!
Altering our food, altering nature, altering us... there should be a line drawn for the sake of our children and the world that we are allowing others to create for them.

I know this is important to a lot of people on this board because I have seen them talk about it. This touches on so many levels and I wish people would take the time to read it. To me, this is much more important than worrying about the agenda of some "lizard people" and/or serpent trying to deceive mankind. We are allowing ourselves to be deceived and we are consenting to something that ultimately will be our downfall.

I don't think that it is the human DNA that needs perfecting, but rather the state of the human heart.


here is a lecture that is also fascinating and touching on the same things if some ppl overlooked bc they didn't want to take the time to read. I promise, there are conspiracies here for those that just can't seem to break away from the fantastical. This is very much sci fi and it *is* in the works... it *is* fact and not fiction.. and it is the devils among us that we all too often look over.

www.youtube.com...

[edit on 29-11-2008 by justamomma]



posted on Nov, 29 2008 @ 11:35 AM
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Originally posted by justamomma
I don't think that it is the human DNA that needs perfecting, but rather the state of the human heart.


I can see some people arguing that perfecting the human DNA might actually perfect the heart.

Those who argue that people are genetically predisposed to obesity, addictions, mental illness, violent behavior, for instance, why not fix those with a genetic bandaid?

It totally undermines the aspect of choice and free will.

We would have to question in this case, what is "normal" and "healthy" anyway?

It's human to be angry, or sad, or lonely from time to time, these have a healthy place in our lives, but for these people that would want to fix things like that, where is the line drawn?

I imagine this technology has a rampant potential to be abused by certain groups that would want to push their idea of "normal"

For example, without naming names, it wouldn't surprise me if certain demographics finally recognize that alternate sexualities have a genetic basis as soon as they realized that it can be "fixed."

[edit on 29-11-2008 by asmeone2]



posted on Nov, 29 2008 @ 12:37 PM
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reply to post by justamomma
 


it's good you brought this up - there's so much to think about here

and I've seen it touched on and discussed in many different ways here at ATS

there's something about all the tinkering that bothers me too - very much - always has

but lately - and truthfully - directly because of some of the threads here - I've started looking at it all a little differently - and it all ties into identity and purpose for me

I've started to wonder if it even matters what we are physically - it really is what's inside that counts

I know it's not that simple - and I see enormous ethics problems to sort through in our future

but they're the same morality and ethics problems we have now - it's just the details that are different

how we treat ourselves and each other - respect for ourselves and each other

I'm not someone with very clearly defined ideas when it comes to my spiritual/religious beliefs - I have no idea about "what's really going on here" if you know what I mean

but I wonder if what we consider humanity to be isn't actually separate from and more than the sum of our parts

our parts have been changing since the beginning (I believe) as has our understanding of ourselves and our universe - and our place in this universe

I really started thinking about this during the conversation in a thread about transferring your "essence" (whatever that might mean) into something mechanical

and again in several other threads I began to wonder what we will do - how we'll behave - if we actually create something that is self aware

if consciousness is the important thing in the end - the vessel is irrelevant

I realize the whole subject of consciousness is problematic

and I realize our identity - and what we consider to be normal - is based on what mankind has been familiar with up until now - so tinkering with it seems wrong on a very basic level

and to be sure - there are so many ways it could turn into something truly ugly, horrific - cruel

but those issues have also been with us since the beginning - and we always find new ways to show complete disrespect for life

but when I really think about it - a 100 story building made of concrete and steel isn't "normal" - or traveling faster than the speed of sound - or into space - or artificial hips - or skin grafts, etc., etc.

maybe it's our destiny (another problematic concept - I know) to continue - to keep on keeping on - the trick will be to protect that part of our selves that we've determined to be the part that is precious



posted on Nov, 29 2008 @ 02:29 PM
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Thank you for the input. I do believe it is important to see all sides of the issue. The topic, biotechnology is such a broad one that involves many different areas. It is the areas that touch on natural human development that concern me the most. I love the convenience of having a computer and the wide expanse of knowledge that can be researched on it, however, I would have no problem giving up the knowledge and technology to be able to experience life on a more natural level. So, understand that I do hold a bias toward nature and the natural process (order) of life. It has nothing to do with religion and I suspect it is why religion was introduced many centuries ago as a way to form some ethical guidelines concerning human civilizations (and as with most things/ideas touched on by the human mind, religion got warped into a system used for control rather than for guidance).

Having said that, specific areas of biotechnology that are troubling to me would include cloning, the aging process, stem cell research, newborn screening, uses of biotechnology that go “beyond therapy,” sex selection, memory boosting and/or suppression, mood control, organ transplantation, nanotechnology (particularly DNA nt), blah blah blah.. you should get the point.


Yes, I see benefits in helping to aide the natural human in their life experience, but not being prone to ignorance, I know that science will not be satisfied merely to assist and has, in fact, begun to border (and even dabble in) modification. Why? I have been researching this and one reason given by those in the above the field is for human happiness. Let me explain why I view this to be an impossible way of achieving happiness.

I remember the feelings that I had when the basketball team that I had been a part of from 7th to 12th grade won state championship our last year of highschool. We did not start out as the greatest team. 7th grade – 10th grade we did not even come close to winning, but it was the core groups goal that by our 12th grade year, we would have state championship rings on our fingers. We busted our arses. I can’t even begin to try and guess how many miles we ran both on and off season during those years. The countless hours practicing as a team and individually, the determination to push ourselves harder in practice and on our own time whenever we would lose a game, the denying ourselves of certain foods that were not good for our bodies and energy levels… all of these things went toward that moment of happiness when we won state championship our last year and left our highschool legacy with an undefeated basketball season (something that was not and has not been accomplished since). That victory would not have meant crap if we had neglected our duty to work toward proving something despite being the underdogs (which we were in our district).

Happiness can not be the goal because it is not tangible. It is something that specifically comes from, yes, having imperfections and overcoming them through our own traits and characteristics. Being perfect is actually the BIGGEST imperfection that could exist. I learn more from my imperfections, flaws, shortcomings, bad experiences, etc.

I have ADHD. I am prescribed with the highest dose of adderall allowed, which goes to show HOW “bad” my “symptoms” are perceived in the medical world. The doc prescribes the medicine with the intent of taking away the symptoms. I take the medication with the intent to assist me when I am having to fill the role of “provider” in my family. I take less than the prescribed amount and even, quite often, don’t take it at all. Why? Because the effects of having ADHD are not “symptoms” to me.. it IS me. It is part of what makes me who I am. I have the ability to overcome some of the negative aspects on my own and choose to do so which makes me feel GOOD and in fact, BETTER than if I were to rid the symptoms through a quick fix method (aka meds). The meds, imo, are there to assist and not to change me. I think it is dangerous to think of these fields as a means to change us so we are happy. They WILL change us, but the cost could be losing the ability to experience true happiness that comes from accomplishing our goals within the boundaries of who we are naturally.

I hope that might better explain the reservations I have concerning biotechnology.



posted on Nov, 29 2008 @ 02:41 PM
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...Because the effects of having ADHD are not “symptoms” to me.. it IS me. It is part of what makes me who I am...

...The meds, imo, are there to assist and not to change me. I think it is dangerous to think of these fields as a means to change us so we are happy. They WILL change us, but the cost could be losing the ability to experience true happiness that comes from accomplishing our goals within the boundaries of who we are naturally. I hope that might better explain the reservations I have concerning biotechnology.


absolutely - I'm in complete agreement with you - I have the same exact problems with this end of things - expecting everyone to behave/think/feel in an acceptable manner - who's in charge of determining what's acceptable?

which is where my real questions and concerns are with "progress"

I see tinkering with identity and self - freedom to be - as a crime against humanity - at the risk of sounding over dramatic

sure - give me a bionic foot if it will help me to walk - but just you leave "me" and everyone else alone

there's going to be so many grey areas - and it's not going to get any easier - which is why I think we should start asking these questions before they actually need to be asked



posted on Nov, 29 2008 @ 03:14 PM
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Originally posted by Spiramirabilis
reply to post by justamomma
 



I've started to wonder if it even matters what we are physically - it really is what's inside that counts

I know it's not that simple - and I see enormous ethics problems to sort through in our future

but they're the same morality and ethics problems we have now - it's just the details that are different

how we treat ourselves and each other - respect for ourselves and each other


I disagree with you, it is already provenhow certain chemicals in the brain or in the body and genetic elements can predispose people to certain character traits.

SO if we tinker too much, intentionally or not, we could seriously alter "what is inside."

For instance what if you created a person who could not feel sadness, by altering his genetics so that he doesn't recognize the chemicals that make a person feel it?

This peson would probably not know happiness, either, since he doesn't know the alternative, so you have drastically changed his soul.



posted on Nov, 29 2008 @ 03:46 PM
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reply to post by asmeone2
 


I concur and apparently so do those who are studying our DNA.


DNA acts as a kind of aerial open to the reception of not only the internal influences and changes within the organism but to those outside it as well. Indeed we regard this as one of our primary findings, which in view of quantum nonlocality of organisms extends not only to the organism's local environment, but also beyond it to the extent of the entire universe.



www.soulsofdistortion.nl...

*the above link has a lot of fascinating material concerning DNA, the research, and projects.



posted on Nov, 29 2008 @ 04:29 PM
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Originally posted by asmeone2

I disagree with you, it is already proven how certain chemicals in the brain or in the body and genetic elements can predispose people to certain character traits.

SO if we tinker too much, intentionally or not, we could seriously alter "what is inside."

For instance what if you created a person who could not feel sadness, by altering his genetics so that he doesn't recognize the chemicals that make a person feel it?

This peson would probably not know happiness, either, since he doesn't know the alternative, so you have drastically changed his soul.


then we don't actually disagree at all :-)

because - this is exactly what I meant by what's important is what's on the inside - meaning - the self - the identity - what it is that makes us human

what it means to be a person

what it means to be aware - consciousness

what it means to have a soul

this is where I would draw my line - if I were allowed to draw one

but, if it were really up to me - I'd also have to ask - is being human really so important - or is being sentient alone important?

or, is awareness even important at all? (I personally think it is)

so, I agree with you - we could alter the very most basic parts of what it means to be human

our problems are all going to revolve around determining where does the self begin and where does it end? And what parts of what exists between beginning and ending are of value - and which are not

if you are born with a tendency towards depression - or with a congenital defect of some kind - do we not correct that if possible - or are we morally and ethically obliged to leave what you're born with alone?

Is any suffering that occurs as the result of your DNA considered sacred somehow? Untouchable?

Or, do we opt to tinker? Help that person find at least relative happiness? How do we decide what that even is? As individuals - or in groups?

Is a person who isn't whole - by the standards that the group considers to be whole - less of a person?

Ask the Nazis.

if it were possible to extend my life, or improve the condition of my life by replacing parts, creating new parts - altering my DNA - any of it - is that in and of itself wrong if I'm still me in the end?

but, what if by doing that it means you have to use parts/resources from other living creatures - where do their rights begin and end?

what if we clone so we have those resources? Right or wrong?

this is where we're heading - into a mass of unanswered questions - which become very relevant and absolutely necessary to answer.

because now - we have a potentially unlimited ability to tinker

but, we're still working on the age old questions of who and what we really are



posted on Nov, 29 2008 @ 04:36 PM
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reply to post by Spiramirabilis
 


Okay I thought you were saying that you thought genetic tinkering would not effect personality.


I would say that yes, being human is important. Look around you, we can't even accept other humans. WE can't agree on what a "normal" human is. If you are black, white, gay, transgendered, Christian, an Athiest, Muslim, retarded, whatever, that is enough for someone to think of you as "less human" than them.

We can't even come to terms with the natural differences within humanity, I think we ought to come to a point where we can accept the variety before we tinker with the race.



posted on Nov, 29 2008 @ 04:54 PM
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Originally posted by asmeone2
reply to post by Spiramirabilis
 


Okay I thought you were saying that you thought genetic tinkering would not effect personality...

...We can't even come to terms with the natural differences within humanity, I think we ought to come to a point where we can accept the variety before we tinker with the race.


no - not at all - I agree with you

I think we can now do some amazing things - that can only benefit us all - but, I can see how some of those things seem extreme - and wrong

what I really meant is that - I'm not sure tinkering with the physical is wrong - as long as we're not tinkering with the person

I am afraid we're developing tools before we've developed the wisdom to know how or when to use them

I just wonder if money and power and a desire for control will end up determining how things will go for us all - you know - like usual

it might be too late to take certain things back and make them right past a certain point



posted on Nov, 29 2008 @ 11:32 PM
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I have been struggling with this issue for quite some time (obviously... just look at my latest threads and posts) and what it is that is bothering me in the core of my being.

It hit me! Shall I yell Eureeka!!

We are spending billions of dollars on the research for these fields to improve human life..
Meanwhile there are FAR too many people suffering needlessly. Suffering that CAN be eliminated should people not be so greedy looking toward how to make *their* life better, longer, happier.

I am fine with my trials in life (and trust me, as a single mother, I could complain all day about how little I can give my children in way of extras... it is a struggle just to keep this roof over their heads and food on the table; yet I REALLY CAN'T complain for we have the roof and the food and the lessons from the trials. My struggle filled life is blessed more than I probably deserve)..

I am NOT fine with such waste going on, funding these research programs that are selfish while there are FAR too many starving and w/out a roof while we have it in our means to help those who need it.

If I was seperated from my leg tomorrow (God forbid) and I had it within my means to get an artificial limb or use that money to help the starving mother get some nutrition so that she can breast feed her newborn, no doubt I would go with the latter.

God help us for ignoring the good we can do as a country and chasing after that which will only serve those who have the $$.

Anyway.... to him that is given much and uses it for their own self promotion, surely it will only lead to his demise. I get angry at the very thought of these things and honestly will bless the justice we so deserve as a country for our selfishness. I am a part of this country and will take the punishment along with the selfish for not figuring out a way to turn this all around for the better.



posted on Nov, 30 2008 @ 11:05 AM
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...I am NOT fine with such waste going on, funding these research programs that are selfish while there are FAR too many starving and w/out a roof while we have it in our means to help those who need it...


bingo -

the whole time I was dancing around trying to make a point - that's the most obvious part of what I was trying to say - how do we treat each other?

all the advances in the world are meaningless if we don't focus on this

the Brave New World doesn't scare me so much - it's the humans that manage it





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