The Point: DNA and Deity

We make terrible gods. For the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

A team at Harvard announced last week that they’re within two years of resurrecting the woolly mammoth. And writing at the Washington Post, Christine Emba points to even more breathtaking possibilities through gene-editing and other advances.

With technologies like CRISPR, we may not only be treating or preventing diseases and disabilities, we may soon be “enhancing human capability,” potentially creating superhero-like individuals.

“If we’re going to play God with gene editing,” writes Emba, “we’ve got to ask some moral questions.”

The problem, she continues, is that we “lack the attributes we would hope to see in a deity: omnipotence; benevolence; foresight…” “As gods go,” admits Emba, “we’re pretty bad ones.”

And she’s right. We’ve got a track record of going to places we shouldn’t with science. As C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Abolition of Man,” our conquest of nature inevitably becomes the conquest of all of us by a few of us. Navigating this modern minefield begins with recognizing we’re not God, and then not acting as if we are.


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  • jason taylor

    That is all very well. But there should in fact be some philosophical criteria as to where legitimate scientific experimentation ends and presumption begins. Otherwise we are just going to say that everything new is bad.

  • MikeW

    The Harvard claim is fake science. It is impossible to “resurrect” a mammoth. What Harvard is actually doing is attempting to breed elephants with cold-tolerant hemoglobin. Many animals, including elephants, have cold-tolerant hemoglobin variants already within their genomes, and Harvard would be more likely to succeed if they used one of these existing variants. But using “mammoth genes” is flashier and more likely to attract funding. Read “How to Clone a Mammoth” by Beth Shapiro for more on this.