Buddhist morality and Human Germline Engineering

The methods and implications of Human Germline Engineering (HGE) are succinctly outlined in the following:

Four kinds of scientific and technological progress are bringing the revolution on-line. They work in tandem. First, geneticists figure out which genes do what, individually and in combination. Second, neurologists map the human brain and trace its functions. Third, programmers create computer simulations that predict the effects of juggling genes. Fourth, bioengineers create better tools to cut and paste DNA strands.

All four of those disciplines have been racing ahead, especially in recent years. There is no reason to assume that any of them will run up against insurmountable obstacles. Nor is it obvious that prohibitive costs will block HGE development or restrict its availability to tycoons whose superhuman progeny will rule the rest of us. On the contrary, DNA technology shows every sign of being amenable to the same types of forces that catapulted silicon chip development forward so powerfully. Indeed, society and the law may find it hard to regulate hobbyists creating new forms of life in their basements. (Source: Human Germline Engineering: the Game-Changer)

Highly recommend the article.

The moral implications of HGE are interesting. Some fear it will give more power to the already rich and powerful, some claim it violates religious morals or the sanctity of life, some that we will create monsters.

From a Buddhist point of view—as long as no greater harm is caused by HGE—there is no moral reason to oppose it.

Life arises due to conditions. If the conditions that give rise to life change, they are still giving rise to life.

If the conditions giving rise to life change to become more conscious, as with HGE, not only is there no problem with this but it may become morally difficult not to do it.

Cloning, making machines conscious, offloading human awareness into a machine, or doing HGE on the unborn do not violate Buddhist morality unless they are causing greater harm.

The parameters of the harm question can be debated, but the basic idea of humans creating life in their own image does not run counter to Buddhist moral thinking.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s