Originally posted on http://digitaldiatribes.wordpress.com on May 22, 2008.
In my previous post, A Discussion on God and Chastisement (A Precursor to “Crossing the Moral Rubicon”), I discussed the general concept of divine chastisement as a response to sin, and how controversial this topic can be.
If I may briefly summarize my own view, I conclude that such chastisements do, in fact, occur and are illustrated in Scripture in not just a past sense, but it is also clear that there are clear foretellings of future chastisements. I also conclude that these chastisements may not always be apparent, particularly to those who will generally dismiss such things. In addition, all this originally stems from the original sin that disordered creation to begin with. Also, as for the difficult concept of how these chastisements affect “good people” too, I don’t have a particular issue with that. As I pointed out, good and moral people suffer too, and we all die sometime. Balancing this with the additional caveats that I do not think that we’re particularly able to get inside the mind of God and explain with definitiveness that one particular sin was the reason for some chastisement on a particular locale, we also need to be careful. At the same time, chastisements can occur as the seeds of our own actions, and while these are allowed by God and occur as part of His creation, they are a result of our own doings (certain diseases, for example).
It is a complicated theological question.
Some have long believed that we crossed a line where God’s Justice would finally extend past His patience and Mercy when abortion became commonplace, socially acceptable, and eventually codified as a basic human right. In some sense, I believe that we have been and are being chastised for that, but this may well fall under the umbrella of the seeds of our own actions. Now, those who believe that people are the problem and that the earth cannot support more people will disagree with me, but I personally do not believe this at all. Our country has essentially exterminated 25% of what would have been its cohort group of 36 year olds and under (don’t believe me? Do the math. 40 million+ abortions in the USA since 1972 would be over 25% of the population of people aged 36 and under today. This doesn’t include chemical abortions that are not recorded). And yet, look at what has happened. Our society has eliminated all that knowledge, which if we were doing things God’s way, I suspect would have gone a long way towards solving whatever problems are perceived. In our wisdom, we have created an unprecedented demographic shift to those who need societal support, on top of the existing infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) whose burden will fall to a smaller percentage of people. Forced to rely on immigrants, we have accepted as common practice those who wish to reside in our country not as proud USA citizens, but as a segregated society – both legal and illegal. This is even more of a problem in Europe.
We have also grown to devalue human life and the value of family, which are simply perpetuating the cycle of immorality. In essence, we have been handed over to our own desires and our own sin, and this is the worst possible chastisement. Such a society cannot continue to stand. It never has in all of history, and to think we are any different because we’re “smarter” is folly.
Some, then, thought we crossed a line when the first pronouncements of same-sex marriage took place. Some thought we got there with cloning.
But still, with all this stuff going on, these are not new sins (OK, cloning is, and is a precursor to what I am getting to…). As far back as Cain and Abel, murder has been among us. Even abortion is not new. Homosexual sin is not new. Lack of faith is nothing new. Now, certainly, these things have also brought about retribution. But one could imagine that a loving, merciful, and patient God sadly “shakes His head” and says “There they go again. They never learn.” Perhaps He even allows it to perpetuate before getting too forceful with any kind of wrath from nature or war, in hopes that small nudges bring us back to common sense. Perhaps He provides further tests, as if to say, “At least show Me that you find this thing too evil to engage in!”
And so, as bad as those sins are, they are not a moral Rubicon. They are the sins of old, presented in new ways. They are serious, terrible, sins. But they are not new.
It is now the point where I become the ridiculed religious nutjob and demagogue. It is what it is.
The Rubicon of which I speak is something new. Something this world has never seen. It is something that, perhaps, was desired and dreamed about, and maybe even attempted. But no other people could achieve it, and thankfully it was never in our grasp to defile the very nature of creation at its root. But we have reached a stage in technology where that door has been opened. The technology, I believe, has been saved for our time. It is a tremendous gift and a blessing, but like all such things can be used wrongly and for great evil. Approached ethically, we have the technology to cure diseases in the womb. We have technology that can cure previously incurable diseases. We can grow organs! But with it, comes the potential for great evil. And make no mistake, this is a very serious test.
The allure of the forbidden fruit has never stopped. First it was cloning and embryonic stem-cell research. While against nature in the way in which the baby was created, it did not change the humanness of the creature, even if it worked to destroy it.
But now, we have stepped across that line. Hybrid human-animal embryos for scientific research has been approved in the UK. And, this is what I believe to be the Rubicon.
Until now, as terrible as all our sins have been, they have not challenged the very nature of creation. Cloning almost got there, but that changed the process of creation rather than the nature of the clone. God very specifically separated man from beast. Man has an immortal soul, and animals do not. The very day the first of these “creations” are made is the very day the dignity of man is affronted in a very brazen way. This is different. It is not comparable to developing the smallpox vaccine. It is not comparable to unnatural relations. It is not comparable even to our incomprehensible ability to disrespect human dignity by taking another’s life. This is a direct confrontation with the Creator, and an attempt to change the very essence of the natural order. Some may say we started this with Genetic Modification of plants and animals, and there may be some truth to that. But that is different from encroaching on the one creature specifically made in the image and likeness of God. I ask the serious question that if we take the image and likeness of God and then change the essence of it, what does it become?
I am not a prophet, nor do I know the mind of God. I can only speculate, and perhaps wrongly so. Admittedly, I’m sort of breaking my own rule here by speculating on the reasons for a possible chastisement. But I do feel strongly about this. All I can say is that God has proven His love, patience, and mercy long ago, because I almost find it unbelievable that He’s put up with us for this long without stepping in and saying “Enough already!” I am thankful for that. The last thing I desire is catastrophe of any kind, whether personal or communal. But I have now reached the point of expectation. I can only hope and pray that my expectations are wrong. However, I cannot help but expect this to be the final straw. No, I am not predicting the end of the world, but I strongly anticipate that – somehow, some way – things will change. Maybe I’m wrong in thinking that God simply cannot allow this to happen, and He will find a way to prevent it. I would hope that this will be done through minds and hearts, and a coming to our senses. In the absence of that, He will resort to other means. And it will at once be miserable and filled with the blessing of saving us from ourselves.
I don’t hope for it. I don’t necessarily predict it. I am making no claims of visions or apparitions or any such thing. I haven’t had any voice tell me that something is coming. I simply expect it on the basis of reason.
Pray for Britain, and then don’t forget that we have our own sins to clean up. If God is going to act, He may go for an entire housecleaning.
This is a difficult issue. How do we define human, and more importantly how does god define human? Does adding animal tissue to a person make them not a person? Anyone with that receives a transplant heart from an animal would hope not.
Many animals share the same building blocks as humanity. At what point do we claim that the arrangment of those blocks equals a human being? If we the exact same arrangement of DNA could be produced, but simply from a non-human origin, would that be immoral?
Is the image of God purely physical? Is only mankind allowed to be in the image of God? If the image of God is spiritual, not physical, then how is the spiritual nature of man created?
Also, we’ve had people mixing human sperm with hamster eggs for quite some time, for sperm fertility testing. I’ve heard that the sperm doesn’t fertilize the hamster eggs, but if they did the law is already technically in place that allows it to happen. The results have to be destroyed pretty quickly, but it’s still legal.
Has been for almost twenty years now.
I agree. Here is the end result. These human/animal hybrids will be used for their organs/organ transplant. Once the organs move into a fully human body, these cells begin to circulate even to the fully human reproductive system. Now, we have these animal cells in our reproductive system. Recall how aids began from a human mixing with an animal. Now it is epidemic. How long will it take before these animal cells circulate into the human race? The chastisement is that we will have completely eradicated ourselves as a human race. This is just downright frightening. This is the chastisement that we have inflicted upon ourselves.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is certainly evolved from a Simian Immunodeficiency Virus, but I don’t think there’s a great deal of evidence to support that this occurred because of some mixing of DNA. People can catch Bird Flu without mixing with birds, after all.
I don’t want to speak for the commenter, but I took the comment to imply that “mixing” was in the context of unnatural human/animal relations. I am not versed enough on the origin of the AIDS virus to know whether or not that is simply myth or if it is established fact.
I also question whether or not there is truly a problem with simply placing an animal organ into a human body. I do not believe such an action changes the nature of a person’s humanness. Many people have heart valves replaced with pig valves. I have no issue with that, and I don’t see why that circulates animal cells around the body any more than eating a burger does.
I guess it is always good to question where the ethical lines in these things are, but my specific point of discussion is in the changing of the nature of DNA itself. It is not necessarily the use of these creations that is the problem. It is the means. Mixing the DNA strands between human and animal, and then adding to that evil by growing an embryo just to kill it either for stem cells or organs is abominable. I leave the biological repercussions of the use of such things for someone else to discuss, since I simply don’t know enough about that.
Yes, sorry, I used the term “mixing” to continue the delicate way the nature of zoophilia was being discussed.
But there answer is no, that there isn’t any reason so far to suspect that sexual relations between humans and primates was the cause of SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) to cross over to humans and evolve into HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). There was a theory about polio vaccines for awhile, which has been largely discredited, but I think the current popular theory is that hunters were the first recipients by accidentally getting the blood from a fresh kill into cuts on the hands or body while dressing the kill.
Back on topic…
I agree that isn’t the means, most certainly, I was just pointing out that this sort of thing has been happening for a little while already. Of course, not on the scale that you posted about.
The biology of the matter is really part of the equation in determining where the ethical line is.
DNA uses the same four building blocks, just arranged in a specific way. And a great deal of our human DNA is similiar to other animals DNA. Admittedly, it only takes a little difference in DNA to make a huge difference in physical makeup. The question is really, where do we genetically draw the line, and how?
I suppose it also depends heavily on theology. If you’re traducianist, messing around with the way the body is assembled may have serious repurcussions! If you’re creationist, it might not.
Thanks for this post, as it has led to some great discussions over the holidays, and many a thought-filled hour.