lately a lot of press has been devoted to the topic of genetic engineering, and specifically to the efforts of scientists attempting to perfect the techniques of cloning. the moral and religious outcry has been that we are taking on the power of creation, overstepping our bounds in the ultimate heresy.
so we’ve got a sheep, and apparently a bunch of mice as well, that are the direct result of this research. they are clones, exact genetic copies, of their predecessors, their ancestors if you will. they wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the drive to perfect cloning.
but why are we trying to perfect cloning anyhow? it’s not as if we can’t just breed sheep and mice until they’re just right. it’s not as if we can’t just engineer them to be the way we like and then let them reproduce on their own – after all, we’ve been doing it for millenia.
where do you think we came up with the dog and the cow? it’s not as if they just evolved to be our companions and food stock – which is which depends entirely on your locale. domestication is the key to our survival. rather than go out every few days to find, then kill, a buffalo, someone decided to keep a few nearby, feed them and keep them happy, protect them from predators, etc. that way, if he got hungry, he could go out back and slaughter one, and save himself a trip.
why we did this with the bovine and porcine progenitors is due to the simple fact that they’re easier to keep than mastodons.
and this leads to finding the most docile, plumpest of the local stock, and breeding them
and the same thing happens among the human herd. whether you like to admit it or not, we are all subject to selective breeding. it’s self-induced, of course, but almost as involuntary as if we were cattle. men and women that are unattractive, uncoordinated, or somehow unfit, never have the same chances to breed as the more successful, attractive people.
ugly people have ugly babies, or none at all.
now, i’ve written before about the problems with selecing the wrong traits, and its effect on evolution, but you must admit that, no matter what traits we selct for, we are being selective. dating is just the way we sample the herd.
mmm. nice udders.
my point, and i do have one, is that we, as a species, have never before been morally opposed to selectively breeding, even among ourselves. shaping evolution has come easily to us, sometimes too easily. all objections duly noted, we still wield the power of creation as if it were our responsibilty, and not the heresy some go on about.
genetic engineering takes selective breeding out of the farmyard, increasing efficiency and effectiveness, but it’s only a step forward in the technology we’ve been perfecting since the last ice age. cloning is the next step, taking a perfect individual and mass producing it in quantity. cloning is the scientific answer to the stud bull.
even Genesis tells us that God gave man dominion over the animals – if you want to justify our anestry biblically. consider if Genesis were written today – would God give us dominion over the bacteria as well as the animals with hooves and wings – or would it say something about their genes?
i guess this all begs the question of human cloning – which is a topic for another rant.