J.Peterson remarks

Kenneth A. Feucht (kenf@kenf.seanet.com)
Mon, 24 Jun 1996 03:08:26 -0700

Thank you for your insightful remarks. Let me make a few minor comments in
an effort to help clarify the issues.

1. You discuss the meaning of an enhanced person, reflecting on cardiac
bypass as "enhancing?" a person. Perhaps, but, having done a number of
them myself, I never really viewed it that way. Bypassing is a frail
attempt to restore conditions (or anatomy?) to a previous state of being.
The arteries are now plugged, and the surgeon restores blood flow to
portions of myocardium via various grafts. A better analogy might be a
cardiac reconstruction for a congenital defect. Even in that situation,
the ultimate goal is to restore defective and malformed anatomy to what is
regarded as normative, rather than develop a new anatomy layout for the
heart which would be physiologically superior to that which most people
possess.

Regarding folic acid in pregnancy, I also suggest that pregnant females
not smoke, use drugs, eat a healthy balanced diet, etc. Again, this effort
is not to exceed but to achieve the genetic potential that we are
naturally endowed with, and not to change the genes to develop an enhanced
potential.\

You don't answer the problem of athletes taking steroids. Guarded doses of
steroids will entail minimal side effects. Enhanced research into new
androgenic steroids for athletic and common use with lesser side effects
would be a valuable industry, and certainly cheaper than research into
gene manipulation to achieve enhanced performance.

What if you emplant in an embryo a deregulated gene for testosterone?
Would that athlete have an unfair advantage? Would we understand well
enough side effects on both physical characteristics and human behavior to
comfortably engage in placing these genes into human embryos? What if the
embryo goes defunct and forms a retarded drooling monster. Are you going
to respect it as a human being created in God's image, or are you going to
destroy it as a experimental flub? How are you going to know all the
genetic side effects of a given gene manipulation? Your studies will take
20 to 40 or more years for each set of experiments, since you will want to
see the effects of a given gene manipulation over the life of the
individual. Thus, development of gene enhancement to the point of minimal
risk will take centuries, and (I predict) plunge us into the most abject
disrespect for human life.

This is why I clarified in my first comments about different types of
efforts that may be enacted in gene research. I presume you would consider
valid those gene studies that attempt to replace know defects in a given
gene product that leads to either metabolic abnormalities or some tragic
disease.

Much of your last comments are hypothetical and should be labeled as such.
As of yet, stable and persisting gene products in the human host has not
yet been achieved. Also, except for certain metabolic disorders (eg, the
hemophilias, tyrosinase deficiency, etc.) most problems do not have
identified a defective or absent gene product that can neatly replaced or
fixed by gene manipulation. I know of no genes that will enhance our
resistance to cancer without affecting other systems of the body.

I previously stated my support for the human genome project, and I support
certain genetic studies. The problem is that so much medical research has
a deceptive "pie in the sky" attitute, such as the "We are Winning" motto
of the American Cancer Society, and the stress for wild positive
speculations in medical research to "cure cancer", solve the human
predicament, and eliminate the effects of original sin, that we are easily
cast off as lacking a true visionary scientific spirit if we lack such
utopian zeal. Realists and pessimists do very poorly at obtaining NIH
grants, and are naturally selected (har, har) out of the mainstream of
American science.

Perhaps I might push the question from another viewpoint. Since all
science is meant for the glory of God, it does God honor (I suppose) to
respect His design in human genes and seek to restore that magnificent
design in a person in which it is defective. Do we now suppose that we can
humanly outdesign God? Should He not have included certain things, such as
appendices or gall bladders, which seem to be useless organs to all people
except for surgeons like myself? Do we manifest an intense honor toward
the meaning of being creating in God's image, when we decide to
re-engineer that image, with all its' variability and diversity found in
each individual human being? How will be regard genetically "superior"
people--as an ubermensch? What will be do with the genetic research
failures--when we find the cancer prevention gene actually enhances the
risk of cancer? Or the kid ends up as a retarded cyclops? Will they be
treated with equivalent respect as a human being? Will my childrens'
health insurance premium be higher if I fail to play with their cancer
genes? Etc., etc., etc. Lots of questions for the hypothetical scenarios
that you wish to form.

--
Kenneth A. Feucht
kenf@kenf.seanet.com
St_Augustine@msn.com
win 95 Beta-tester 176022