Ever since the human mind was first able to hope, we have yearned for those we care about who are blind to be able to see. Desperate to escape our helplessness, our hope became prayer to the same god who made our loved ones blind. Yet god only ever ignored the pleas, dispensing blindness to those we love but never, ever curing it. Why conceive of blindness if you’re only going to cure it, right? If you wanted everybody to see, why create blindness in the first place?
But now humans are making those strides, using science to thumb our noses at the maladies conceived by the almighty.
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first treatment to give limited vision to people who are blind, involving a technology called the artificial retina.
The device allows people with a certain type of blindness to detect crosswalks on the street, the presence of people or cars, and sometimes even large numbers or letters. The approval of the system marks a milestone in a new frontier in vision research, a field in which scientists are making strides with gene therapy, optogenetics, stem cells and other strategies.
“This is just the beginning,” said Grace Shen, a director of the retinal diseases program at the National Eye Institute, which helped finance the artificial retina research and is supporting many other blindness therapy projects. “We have a lot of exciting things sitting in the wings.”
Of course, god doesn’t exist, so we’re not really defying him. Instead, we are asserting ourselves against a universe indifferent to our suffering. This is how we stake our claim in the cosmos – by insisting that the well-being of our species matters, and that we’re going to use our minds to bend the machinations of this pitiless universe to serve our interests.
Humanity can do some dumb stuff (religion), but it’s capable of so much. I think this is what offends me most about religion – it’s such an affront to our potential. When we stop waiting on god to show himself and take matters into our own hands, we really are amazing.