Human Exceptionalism

Huxley was Right: A Whole New Meaning to the Term “Making Babies”

The hubris of the Brave New Worlders–and their folly–is on abundant display in this story about a future in which 100-year-old women will give birth. From the story:

Woman will soon be able to give birth at the age of 100 due to advances in fertility treatment, scientists have predicted.

Within three decades, women of any age–from children to pensioners–could successfully conceive as infertility is effectively eradicated, it is claimed. Experts say advances in germ cell technology in which skin cells are used to create sperm and eggs and then combined to make human embryos will soon allow women to start a family at any time in their lives.

This pathetic need to control everything–including the natural rhythms of human existence–is sad and doomed to failure. For 100-year-olds to give birth will require bodies like those of 30-40 year-olds–the old transhumanist pipe dream.

And get how deeply the desire among brave new worlders for hyper mastery of all aspects of existence has advanced:

Biologist, Davor Solter, of the Institute of Biology in Singapore, said: “The goals will remain the same in that we’ll be trying to give children to those who can’t have them and remove children from those who don’t want them. I think IVF has gone about as far as it can…”

Other steps forward that are envisaged in the next 30 years include gestation taking place in an artificial womb, low-cost IVF treatment being made available at £50 a cycle and more controversially the creation of embryos for experiments.

In the coming years, scientists also believe that people will be freezing cells from an early age to avoid diseases as they get older. Mr Solter added: “Today you can’t experiment on human embryos because it’s considered morally repugnant–and they are difficult to get. If embryos could be grown in culture like any other cell line, this latter problem would disappear. It would mean you could introduce any kind of genetic modification. The cell lines could be used to correct a mutation or to engineer an improvement, and used to make a mutant embryo for research purposes. They would become objects and would be used as objects.

Now, read the first chapter of Brave New World, which I wish there was room to quote in full, that includes this exchange:

But one of the students was fool enough to ask where the advantage lay.

“My good boy!” The Director wheeled sharply round on him. “Can’t you see? Can’t you see?” He raised a hand; his expression was solemn. “Bokanovsky’s Process is one of the major instruments of social stability!”

Major instruments of social stability. Standard men and women; in uniform batches. The whole of a small factory staffed with the products of a single bokanovskified egg. “Ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical machines!” The voice was almost tremulous with enthusiasm. “You really know where you are. For the first time in history.” He quoted the planetary motto. “Community, Identity, Stability.” Grand words. “If we could bokanovskify indefinitely the whole problem would be solved.”

Solved by standard Gammas, unvarying Deltas, uniform Epsilons. Millions of identical twins. The principle of mass production at last applied to biology.

Huxley sure understood human nature. But we don’t have to passively allow our values to shift to the point that we view human life as mere potter’s clay. We have the power of choice. We have the power to say no to the attempt, that even when it failed, would cause tremendous moral damage.