The Vatican Denounces Genetic Manipulation
While surfing the internet this evening, I ran across an interesting news piece from cnn.com. The Vatican recently announced new areas of sinful behavior including “drugs, pollution, and genetic manipulations as well as social and economic injustices” (AP). The article was rather brief and only reported that Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, “denounced certain violations of the fundamental rights of human nature through experiments, genetic manipulations” (AP).
I attempted to do more research to find out how the Vatican defined “genetic manipulation,” but I could not find one. Genetic manipulation is a broad term that describes the direct transformation of a protein’s DNA sequence to create a new version of the gene. The procedure has been used to make technological advancements in health care and agriculture. Genetic manipulation helped produce synthetic human insulin which helps those with diabetes. And genetic manipulation is used in agriculture to “increase productivity in sustainable agriculture” (National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis).
To be honest, I don’t think anyone will be surprised to learn that the Vatican has denounced genetic manipulation. The church has already made it clear that it is against abortion, cloning, stem cell research, and artificial insemination of unmarried individuals (Munson, 2007, 409). And now, the Vatican has made it a sin to manipulate genetic material for the purpose of sex selection or to promote desirable characteristics. This is another classic example of religion clashing with science over technological advancements just like debates over evolution and abortion. Supporters of religion claim manipulating genetics is like “playing God,” and as Ben Hefner said today in class, this is one of the most detestable acts possible to the religious individual. Many novels also warn the reader about this notion. In Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, scientists claimed creating animals was fun because “it made you feel like God” (51), and Dr. Moreau acts as a deity figure to his creations in H. G. Wells’s horror story, The Island of Dr. Moreau. However, those in support of science reject this view of science and point to the helpful results of the experiments that may push the limits of human nature. Genetic manipulation has already helped all those with diabetes who must take insulin and could help rid our population of harmful genetic diseases.
This dynamic relationship between science and religion could decelerate scientific advancement, but with Atwood and Wells in mind, this may not be a bad thing.
Associated Press (2008). Vatican lists new sinful behaviors. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/03/10/vatican.updates.sins.ap/index.html?iref=mpstoryview
Munson, Ronald (2007). Intervention and Reflection. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education, 2007.
National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (2007). Genetically engineered crops could play a role in sustainable agriculture. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from http://www.brightsurf.com/news/headlines/31015/New_study_finds_genetically_engineered_crops_could_play_a_role_in_sustainable_agriculture.html