Genetic Manipulation A Sin, Says Pope

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In just time to celebrate Easter, Pope Benedict XVI is declaring genetic manipulation of human beings anathema. According to the Times (London):

The Pope will deliver a blistering attack on the "satanic" mores of modern society today, warning against an "inane apologia of evil" that is in danger of destroying humanity…

Particular condemnation is reserved for scientific advances in the field of genetic manipulation. Warning against the move to "modify the very grammar of life as planned and willed by God", the Pope will lead prayers against "insane, risky and dangerous" ventures in attempting "to take God's place without being God".

On the other hand, I can imagine an exasperated Deity responding, "It's about time that you people finally started using the brains I gave you to figure out how to use genetic science to cure disease, prevent suffering and avert early death."

Whole thing here.

Many kudos to frequent poster biologist for the heads up.

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  1. Der Pope prefers his eugenics the old-fashioned way.

  2. Ron:

    “On the other hand, I can imagine an exasperated Deity responding, ‘It’s about time that you people finally started using the brains I gave you to figure out how to use genetic science to cure disease, prevent suffering and avert early death.'”

    Very well put!

  3. “Der Pope prefers his eugenics the old-fashioned way.”

    I’m not a fan of Pope Benedict, but I really get sick and tired of the Nazi jokes. They are nothing more than an opportunity to combine two generally acceptable American prejudices — anti-papism and anti-Germanism.

  4. It’s about time that you people finally started using the brains I gave you

    Heh, this is of course the spoiler to the whole Garden of Eden myth: that God would punish Adam and Eve for using the very brains he put in their heads. Only a sadist would do that.

  5. Far be it from me to potenitally dampen the Easter fun of socking it to the squares, daddy-o, but when I hear “genetic maniuplation” and “the very grammar of life” and bits about playing God and “a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family” I don’t think of trying to cure cancer, I think of growing people in petri dishes and giving them tails.

    Maybe you’re right and he’s talking about obviously productive and good uses of genetics, but I don’t get that from the brief quotes in the article.


  6. I’m not a fan of Pope Benedict,… — anti-papism and anti-Germanism.
    Comment by: Informed Observer at April 14, 2006 12:55 PM

    Dude chill out, it was funny. I loled.

  7. I see this as a positive. I think more proclamations like this will make people realize that a lot of what is said to be sinful is really just mumbo jumbo made up by humans. More cracks in the shield of the stupid aspects of religion means more time for the good aspects of religion

  8. Akira MacKenzie makes a comment about “Christards” in 5…4…3..

  9. What would the Puppy Pope, his Howliness Rex Rover, say about this? Dogs are, after all, the product of thousands of years of selective breeding.

  10. You are right, Informed Observer.

    There is no point in making eugenics jokes about Germans, when it is a fact that Hitler got the idea from the US. It was here that “unfit” people got routinely sterilized by judicial order. Hitler thought it was a good idea, natch.

    The same way with the Nuremberg Statutes, inspired by the Jim Crow laws…

    As for exterminating inferior races to make room for the superior ones…

    The worst of Nazism did not come from Fascism…

  11. More cracks in the shield of the stupid aspects of religion means more time for the good aspects of religion

    Not really, it just means all religion gets taken less seriously.

  12. Adriana,

    Yes, and the reproductive rights heroine and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was quite active in the pre-WW2 eugenics scene. Her original use for birth control was to prevent racial minorities and other “defectives” from continuing to pollute society with their degenerate offspring.

    And with so many of PP’s abortion clinics located in minority neighborhoods, one wonders whether the goal has changed all that much in the intervening decades.

  13. Completely off topic, but since its a religious thread and this is Good Friday for some…

    I submit the following without comment.

  14. Still waiting for someone to discover the “religion” gene, which would finally explain why whole societies somehow manage to go mad.

  15. “And with so many of PP’s abortion clinics located in minority neighborhoods, one wonders whether the goal has changed all that much in the intervening decades.”

    there’s some fucking selective interpretation.

    ChicagoTom: some jerk a few weeks pointed to some (radical sect?) Islamic ritual that appeared equally violent and declared “Islam = barbarism”. Is this the time to paint him with that brush, too?

  16. I’m guessing if La Papa doesn’t like God’s Will being messed with in biology that he must be opposed to taking tumors out of people. Didn’t God will them to be in there?

  17. Impassioned and scholarly defense of the Albegensian crusade of 1209 in 3..2..

  18. They are nothing more than an opportunity to combine two generally acceptable American prejudices — anti-papism and anti-Germanism.

    Anti-Gremanism, an “acceptable American prejudice”? Who you kidding? Try anti-Fascism. Anti-papism as well as anti-Fascism are both well deserving of their generally acceptable status.

  19. Moose,

    Yes, selective breeding (or selective fucking if you prefer) was/is what it’s all about…

  20. Mark my word, I’m going to write a play about a man who achieved a THREE FOOT LONG MASSIVE BEAUTIFUL GLISTENING THICK AS A MOTHERFUCKER PENIS PENIS PENIS PENIS through genetic engineering.

  21. With a history that consists of thousands of years of being wrong on just about everything is it too much to expect that Popes will ever learn a bit of humility? Is it too much to expect that people will ever take a serious look at that embarrassingly miserable record and stop listening to them?

  22. They are nothing more than an opportunity to combine two generally acceptable American prejudices — anti-papism and anti-Germanism.

    Holy shit, no wonder I’ve never been able to get a decent job. They’ve been discriminating against my german ancestry.

  23. Don’t forget homophobia. I’m not saying nothing, but Benedetto has a very highly attuned sense for fashion.

  24. Me, too, Isaac. Though I should be thankful for my German blood–it keeps me from being short, like most of my purer Scottish cousins. Achtung, baby.

    The Pope isn’t the pinnacle of groups that Americans can still hate. He isn’t from the Old South. Now if he were, then he could be legally crucified.

  25. “Rope a Pope.”

  26. But we must “play” god. God no longer performs “miracles” to impress us, so we have to d it ourselves. If there is any agent of “God” available here on earth, it’s us.
    After all, who was “made in God’s image”?
    It is in our rational faculties that we are made in “god’s image”, that is, the universe is ordered and our rational faculty gives us the ability to perceive that order, and utilize our conprehension of that order to do godlike things.

  27. Brian,

    To some extent you answered your own question. Humans being social animals, the penalty for being wrong is much less than the penalty for not being a member of a/the group. It’s been that way for much longer than a few thousand years.

    That’s not intrinsically a bad thing though. The benefits of unarticulated knowledge and culture may outweigh the costs of being wrong. This is especially true when you look at how papal pronouncements against contraception are ignored, at least in the first world. The people who are most likely to listen to, agree with and participate in the Pope’s boycott of the new genetic technologies are the least likely to be contributors.

  28. mediageek:

    It’s tempting, but what’s the use? From now on I’m going to try to avoid the religious threads until I get some issues under wraps. Otherwise I just end up feeling very angry causing the rest of my day to go right down the crapper.

    So, the Pope is wrong, genetic engineering can be of great help, and he should get with the 21st century… yadda, yadda, yadda. I’ve got to get to the barber for a haircut.

  29. “I’m guessing if La Papa doesn’t like God’s Will being messed with in biology that he must be opposed to taking tumors out of people. Didn’t God will them to be in there?”

    me too, me too.

    If you’ve got cancer, the only reasonable explanation is that GOD WANTS YOU DEAD.

    Will you defy Him?

  30. “I see this as a positive. I think more proclamations like this will make people realize that a lot of what is said to be sinful is really just mumbo jumbo made up by humans. More cracks in the shield of the stupid aspects of religion means more time for the good aspects of religion.”

    With all the stupid shit they already swallow whole, I dont see this as changing the minds of many of the faithful masses. Its not just Catholicism either. If people believe the crap spewed by the Scientologists, they will believe anything.

  31. Please don’t pretend that anti-fascism/nazism hasn’t morphed into anti-Germanism over the last few decades. When someone says an authoritarian speech or book “sounded better in the original German” or comments on some anti-civil liberties measure by using a German accent, etc., etc., they are clearly conflating Germans with fascism/nazism.

  32. I’ll make a deal with the Pope — when they get serious about cracking down on the “fucking little kids” problem they’ve got, I’ll start listening to the Pope’s thoughts on ethics.

    I don’t promise to [i]agree[/i], but I ain’t taking a lecture on ethics from him until he takes care of the beam in his own fuckin’ eye.

  33. I applaud Mr MacKenzie’s admirable display of self-restraint.

  34. Ed:

    “Heh, this is of course the spoiler to the whole Garden of Eden myth: that God would punish Adam and Eve for using the very brains he put in their heads. Only a sadist would do that.”

    Wish I’d thought of that but glad to see it writ.

  35. Genetic Manipulation A Sin, Says Pope

    I misread the first word as something else and thought “isn’t that already a sin??”

  36. Well, golly, IO, it isn’t every Bishop of Rome, after all, who has actually been a Nazi, even if the circumstances in this case are understandable. But, no, there isn’t any conflating going on, clear or otherwise. Just lazy reliance on a stereotype to crack wise.

    The “sounded better in German” line, btw, was Mort Saul’s. He used it first about an Eisenhower speech and has been recycling it ever since.

    I’ve lived in Germany, happily, for several years and certainly know better than to think of contemporary Germans as barely repressed Nazis. But they deserve the various stereotypings and lampoonings for their pecularities as much as any other culture or nationality, us included, and authoritarianism is part of their culture. (Question: Why is there so little crime in Germany? Answer: It’s against the law.)

    As for the anti-papism charge, you’re a couple of generations late. Of course, the religiously secular crowd hereabouts has its little fun over Roman Catholic theology rather like most of the world laughs at libertarianism, but it’s hardly a statistically representative sample of society at large.

  37. “Many kudos to” — Sorry. I can’t help myself. “Kudos” is a singular mass noun from the Greek meaning “mystical glory.” Arguably, you can have much of it, but not many of it. Incidentally, is there another English common noun, domesticated or otherwise, which (a) has more than one sylable; (b) ends in a single s; (c) is singular; and (d) pronounces that “s” as a “z”?

  38. Incidentally,

    Is it obviously–i.e. generally understood to be–singular?

  39. Dogs are, after all, the product of thousands of years of selective breeding.

    A lot of breeds really freak me out with their various weirdly elongated body parts and such. I imagine I’ll find pure-bred humans to be just as off-putting someday.

  40. Genetic Manipulation A Sin, Says Pope

    Well, I guess thousands of years of farmers are in hell right now then. They shouldn’t have been intentionally crossbreeding their grasses, or trying to breed better animals. Oh, and don’t forget the orchid and rose fanatics, and so on and so forth… you get the idea…

    Unless he’s only talking about human genetic manipulation. It’s unclear in the article.

  41. JohnEMack,

    trousers (although only sometimes-see below)?

    “A pair of trousers” is singular.

    “trousers” within “A pair of trousers” is plural, however.

    But “trousers” within “He’s wearing his trousers” strikes me as singular, because it implicitly subsumes “pair”. I can see an argument either way and certainly don’t have the background to speak authoritatively.

  42. Is one pant leg a “trouser”

  43. OK, I need an explanation…

    Why are there so few overtly female posters here in Hit and Run?

    It’s been bothering me for some time, but hearing the bit of conversation about planned parenthood got me thinking about those who say only women should have a voice in abortion issues and it finally clicked that I wasn’t reading any female perspectives here so I’ve got to ask.

    Are we in need of some affirmative action here?

    like maybe…

    “50% of posts by women or the thread gets shut down!”

  44. scissors?

    But it’s always plural for me.

  45. Serious question : On what basis is the Pope declaring this as sinful ? Does the Pope have the authority to issue new fatwahs other than what is already in the Bible or what ? Googling about Papal Authority doesn’t really help much – at least, I could’t figure it out one way or the other.

  46. I look forward to a time when your dumbass musings on morality aren’t given any more special weight than anyone else just because you wear a silly hat and are an expert in apologetics.

  47. I dream of a day when I settle down with a tall, intelligent, athletic blonde and institute a selective breeding program whereby we will create a master race of linebackers to support us in our declining years.

    Is that a sin?

  48. No, but if it happens to you rather than me, it’s a CRIME.

  49. P Brooks/plunge – hahahahah! 🙂

  50. Rhywun,

    I like “scissors” better than “trousers”, especially when it’s used as an abbreviation for “scissors hold”. At least I think I do. I’m even further afield wrestling. “He’s got him in a scissors” sounds weird, but not necessarily wrong.

  51. I hope he isn’t including gene therapy in this. Many catholic hospitals are involved in this field of research.

  52. Informed Observer-Persecution complex much?

  53. They made Ratzinger pope. Can you believe it? You know you’re getting to a certain age when they name a new pope and you’ve already been following his career for years. The right-winger’s right winger. Head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, aka the Inquisition.

    He has opinions? Who gives a shit?

  54. On what basis is the Pope declaring this as sinful ? Does the Pope have the authority to issue new fatwahs other than what is already in the Bible or what ?

    According to Matthew 16:19, Peter was given the power over the Church as Christ’s successor as leader of the Church on Earth. As such, he was entitled to make use of Christ’s power “vicariously,” which is why he was called the “Vicar of Christ.” Since Catholics believe that the Pope is the successor of Peter and inheritor of his power and title, the Pope is entitled to make rulings based on his understanding of the faith. Furthermore, the Pope’s word is more important for Catholics than the Bible, and in years past he could and did make proclaimations that had nothing to do with the Bible, or were even contrary to the spirit of the Bible’s teachings.

  55. mk said:

    “Impassioned and scholarly defense of the Albegensian crusade of 1209 in 3..2..”

    Rant that you know nothing about Catharism, and how it is the True Faith.

  56. What would the Puppy Pope, his Howliness Rex Rover, say about this? Dogs are, after all, the product of thousands of years of selective breeding.

    thoreau, thoreau, you are the victim of your own human-centric viewpoint.

    For thousands of years, Almighty Dog has merely used human “breeders” as His instrument in getting the right dogs paired together with the right bitches, in accordance with His holy plan.

    But if humans actually started messing around with doggy genes directly, of their own volition, that would be wrong and naughty.

    And of course, the church’s stand against spaying and neutering remains firm.

    I would write more, but I’ve been busy. It’s tough for a pope out here. It’s tough for a pup out here.

  57. when I hear “genetic maniuplation” and “the very grammar of life” and bits about playing God and “a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family” I don’t think of trying to cure cancer, I think of growing people in petri dishes and giving them tails.

    Maybe you’re right and he’s talking about obviously productive and good uses of genetics, but I don’t get that from the brief quotes in the article.

    I’ll have to agree. The soundbite partial quotes are almost devoid of meaning as well as context.

    I can’t tell if the Pope is against gene therapy to cure juvenile diabetes, for example. He may just be railing against potential abuses, such as … well, suppose someone obtained a tissue sample from, I dunno, Kiera Knightly, made clones in the laboratory, but genetically manipulated those clones so they had the intelligence level, friendliness, loyalty, horniness and tendency to lick/mouth things of a Labrador retriever pup. And then sold the semi-human modified clones as sex slaves! That would be …

    (thinks about this for a few minutes)

    … that would be disastrous!

    Admittedly, this is probably quite a few years in the future. But give the Pope credit for thinking about this in advance, when we have some time to think about the proper ethical and policy approach, instead of waiting for the day when Keira Knightly sex slaves are dropped into our laps!

  58. I like the way you think, Stevo. 🙂

  59. See even the dog pope is biased towards the “breeders”

  60. I don’t know if trouser or trousers are singular, but since we have jean jackets, “jeans” must be plural…and never manipulated.

    Ok, I promise to never do that again.

  61. Stevo Darkly
    I was about to say something nasty and uncalled for about the Pope even though it’s past my “posting time,” when I saw your post.
    Can the rest of us here rely upon you to speak/intervene to him on our behalf?
    Thanks.
    Hi, Herrick’s Balls.

  62. See even the dog pope is biased towards the “breeders”

    Almighty Dog commanded us to be fruitful and multiply. Every litter is a blessing. Sexual activity that is not geared toward reproduction is sinful, because it is focused entirely upon selfish pleasure. That is why homosexual activity is anathema. I’m sorry. And don’t even get me started on leg-humping and ball-licking.

  63. Dog is my Copilot

  64. Shears as in sheep shears. Clippers as in hair and nail and lawn. Tweezers and nippers and pliers and tongs. Oh my!

  65. Oops! Has to be more than one syllable? Shears and tongs won’t work, nor would lens. Series?

  66. Series?

    ah – best example yet

  67. series > scissors > trousers

    I want a bumper-sticker that says this.

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