Today in Monstrous News

Today in Monstrous News January 24, 2013

Some mad scientist is looking for an “adventurous” woman to bear an experimental Neanderthal hybrid baby.

Since his remarks hit the media and caused an uproar, the guy who is, yes, slyly agitating for this, has gone into doubletalk mode to pretend he is not:

Since that article ran, Church has come out saying that’s not what he meant, exactly. He blames the misinterpretation on the poor translation of an interview with him that appeared in the German magazine, Der Spiegel.

“I’m certainly not advocating it,” Church told the Boston Herald. “I’m saying, if it is technically possible someday, we need to start talking about it today.”

Mhm.  What do we need to talk about besides.  “No.  Never. End of conversation.”?  Let’s try his language with something that is recognized by all as morally repugnant, such as the possibility of gassing all the Jews in Europe:

Since that article ran, Mengele has come out saying that’s not what he meant, exactly. He blames the misinterpretation on the poor translation of an interview with him that appeared in the German magazine, Der Sturmer.

“I’m certainly not advocating it,” Mengele told the Boston Herald. “I’m saying, if it is technically possible someday, we need to start talking about it today.”

So: talking about what?

Church explains that genetic engineering gives researchers a way to start with an intact genome of an animal and change it to the genome of another animal. You could start with an elephant’s genome, for example, and change it into that of a mammoth’s.

“The same technique would work for the Neanderthal,” he writes, “except that you’d start with a stem cell genome from a human adult and gradually reverseengineer it into the Neanderthal genome or a reasonably close equivalent. These stem cells can produce tissues and organs. If society becomes comfortable with cloning and sees value in true human diversity, then the whole Neanderthal creature itself could be cloned by a surrogate mother chimp or an extremely adventurous female human.”

You know, that doesn’t sound at all like “No.  Never.  End of conversation.”  It sounds like “This would be a really cool thing to try and we just need to soften the ground of public opinion until stupid people are on board with it.  So yeah.  The guy is advocating this, but using Orwellian BS to pretend he isn’t.  The trick of slyly asking “Has God *really* said?  We need to start talking about this” as a preface to proposing monstrous evil is a favorite of the culture of death.

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  • Adam Lane

    You are possibly one of the stupidest people I have ever had the misfortune of reading an article written by. That’s all I have to say.

    • James H, London

      Hey, look, everybody! It’s another content-free rebuttal!

    • ivan_the_mad

      Yet another desperate plea for attention by means of projection.

    • The Deuce

      Well Adam, thank for informing us of your completely unsupported and completely uninteresting feelings about a blog author you don’ t like. We are all enriched.

      • Mark Shea

        A sad case of intellect worship destroying intellect use.

  • deiseach

    Firstly, we’ve all probably got a little Neanderthal in us. so we’re already Neanderthal hybrids. Secondly, since Neanderthals are also human (they belong to the genus Homo), it is no more fitting to talk of having a “surrogate chimp mother” for the putative embryo than it would be for a modern human embryo.

    Thirdly and finally, although – thank goodness – he speaks of using adult stem cells and not more embryonic experimentation, this would be an absolutely pointless experiment. The resultant being would not be a Neanderthal as they existed, it would be a reconstructed human based on a notion of what counts as Neanderthal features, it would have no peers or native culture and it would be cruel to create it and raise it as no more than a freak of scientific hubris. Cloning extinct species as a circus amusement – which, whether animal or human, is what it boils down to – is not a worthy end for the technology and research involved.

    Fourthly, this can’t be done – thank God!

    • We’re on the steep part of the technology s curve on genetic manipulation so don’t count the idea out entirely until we stabilize. The bishops apparently have a yearly meeting on the subject of novel biological manipulation and have been having it for many years. I suggest they are wise to do so, and are doing the talking that this scientist ignorantly imagines is not happening.

  • Between this and the attempts to clone Mammoths back into existence, I have to say: Cenozoic park, here we come!

  • Amy

    Would “it” have a soul?

    • Mark Shea

      All living things have souls. Whether the child would be capable of reason is beyond our knowledge. The presumption should be that it is a human being and it should be treated as such, should these monsters succeed in their plans. But, of course, these monsters should not proceed with their plans.

  • kara

    I’m sorry, but this seems awfully misogynistic. Like “we’d like volunteer walking wombs for our pet mad science experiment.” He does not address how potential womb donors might be endangered by carrying a clone which may or may not be compatible with her modern biology. But I guess wombs are disposable, as are defective mutant embryos.

  • Darren

    It would be interesting to see if this Neanderthal was imbued with a Rational Soul.

    Certainly we could only use adult stem cells and a chimp womb, a human raises the whole surrogate womb business and all.

    If he turned out to have a Rational Soul, then he would have had to be a descendant of Adam, which would have important implications in human origins and theology: the current scientific model placing Neanderthal and homo sapiens on separate branches, and the current theological model putting the Fall after the split.

    If he turned out to be a descendant of Adam, it might be an actual moral good to bring yet another human soul into the world, as with the accepted use of in-vitro.

    If he turned out not to have a Rational Soul, then I suppose he would just be an animal, like any other, and no real harm done. No different than cloning a cow…

    • Mark Shea

      It will be interesting to see if the people who did such a thing suffered the everlasting fires of hell. Care to risk it?

      • Darren

        Thank you for the correction; I had mistakenly believed IVF to be allowed.

        Still, last common ancestor being a million years past, pretty confident the Neanderthal would have no Rational Soul and would be classed as livestock.

        • Pretty sure you’re wrong as Neanderthal genes live on in all of us. They are a type of humanity, one that didn’t maintain itself as a separate and distinct population but merged into our own population with only relatively rare occasions when the genes express and some neanderthal traits become obvious.

          • Mark Shea

            I think the jury is still way out on whether h. sapiens and h. neanderthalensis interbred. But I could be wrong.

  • gabriel

    really, a scientific experiement of such gravity that it can show humans pushing bounadries but yet you mention the soul? really? come on….when yre you people going to wake up to the fact that ancient worship of the sun lead to a vast collective of theological interpretations that then led to what we call religion. really? we are still talking like this? you know the stupidest thing about all this is that when the world was flat and each country thought that they were the only thing in the universe and that the sun broaght life and death etc etc its gods will that causes the thunder and all that crap…..when humans decided to explore beyond their own countries instead of all coming together and saying “hey guys, we’re all from the same rock, whats the best way of doing things that suits everybody?” we instead stuck to our outdated and misguided belief structures and created seperatism…well done….you created a world full of insane non rational thinking people that will spend the rest of their stupid lives pretending that their belief in a supernatrual creator is blindingly more important than progress…..i give up on you all, if there is ever a catastrophe then its not the meek that will inherit the earth, its the smart guys who know how to use the rescources available to survive…..come on people, we are capable of so much and yet we rant at scientists for pushing the envelope based on our outdated unproven faith

    • Yes gabriel, please give up on us. That will spare us more of your spectacularly unoriginal ramblings and atrocious grammar and spelling.

    • Cinlef

      You have a hilariously inaccurate conception of human history, anthropology,and religion.

  • gabriel

    p.s anyone know what a soul is? can it be measured, who came up with the idea…oh yes we needed an explanation for conciousness….until you know what it is dont assume that because some philosopher came up with the idea thousands of years ago and it got written into a few texts that by the way have more re-writes than the US film industry have come up with then stop including it in conversation….morons

    • Since this is a Roman Catholic blog you could look here to find a Roman Catholic understanding of the soul:

    • Chris

      I post, therefore I am a byte.

    • Chris

      Gabriel — I couldn’t pick you out of a lineup. I have no idea what you sound like. I can’t smell you. Therefore, you don’t exist. As far as I can tell, there is some self-directed code posting information to a Catholic blog about science.

  • Doug Sirman

    On Hunger and Morgues: “Now, I’m not saying it’s ‘Right,’ but every year people go hungry, and every year we bury thousands of pounds of perfectly good meat.”

  • Paul
  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    I listened to an hour-long interview with Church on NPR’s On Point. You can listen to the archive on the website.

    Church says outright that he is not advocating making a Neanderthal, that he does have his own ethical qualms about it. But it would be possible. And yes, many of us are a little Neanderthal already. Church had his own genome sequenced, and he has Neanderthal in him.

    But here is the really important quesetion we must all begin arguing about for 305 posts on Mr. Shea’s blog: Does the Second Amendment apply to Neanderthals? Does “bear arms” in this context apply only to flint-tipped spears?

  • It would be an attempt to alter the human germ line, presuming the off-spring were not sterile. Even the head of the Human Genome project told me, about 20 years ago, that he’d have a problem with altering the germ line.

    But he’s also a Methodist minister.