The rhetoric that usually employs the phrase, "play God," is aimed at inhibiting, if not shutting down, certain forms of scientific research and medical therapy. This applies particularly to the field of human genetics and, still more particularly, to the prospect of germline intervention for purposes of human enhancementthat is, the insertion of new gene segments of DNA into sperm or eggs before fertilization or into undifferentiated cells of an early embryo that will be passed on to future generations and may become part of the permanent gene pool. Some scientists and religious spokespersons are putting a chain across the gate to germline enhancement and with a posted sign reading, "Thou shalt not play God." A Time/CNN poll cites a substantial majority (58%) who believe altering human genes is against the will of God.
Why do critics of genetic research prescribe a new commandment, "Thou shalt not play God"? The answer is that human pride or hubris is dangerous. We have learned from experience that what the Bible says is true: "pride goes before destruction" (Proverbs 16:18). And in our modern era, pride among the natural scientists has taken the form of overestimating our knowledge, of arrogating for science a kind of omniscience that we do not in fact have. Or, to refine it a bit: "playing God" means we confuse the knowledge we do have with the wisdom to decide how to use it. Frequently lacking this wisdom, we falsely assume we possess... [continues]
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