Editing the Human Germline: New Initiative Announced

The National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine just announced a major initiative that should help bring some focus to the international debate about human germline modification.  That can only be a good thing.

Recent advances in gene editing technology are bringing us closer to the day when it may be possible to alter human embryos in such a way that any future generations Continue reading

Posted in germline modification.

The Future of Morality

I have always been fascinated by the future. It is that unknown part of history, a place where we pour all of our hopes, fears, and dreams. The inherent mystery of the future incites us to project our wildest imaginings into it. Yet, unlike pure fantasy or alternative worlds, in theory, we will meet the future someday. It is where our wildest imaginings meets the very real. It is the mystery of today that someday we will live.

640px-Carta_Marina

Carta Marina, public domain, Wikipedia

Future-talk seems to be on the rise. In past centuries, imaginative obsession with the unknown was often set in geographic terms. Recall those wonderfully ornate Medieval and Renaissance maps replete with sea monsters and other speculative creatures on the fringes of the known world: “Here be dragons!” For them, the unknown was off the edge. For us, it’s out in front, somewhere in the future. Utopias that were once placed beyond the visible horizon are now set beyond the temporal horizon. Continue reading

Posted in enhancement, technoculture. Tagged with , .

Neandertals in the Family Tree: Update on Interbreeding

Fresh evidence now strongly suggests that interbreeding with Neandertals occurred in Europe.

That’s a big surprise.  For several years now, we have known that the evidence supports the idea that interbreeding between Neandertals and “modern humans” occurred about 50,000 or more years ago.  That is well before the modern humans reached Europe.  Recently, in fact, we learned that the earlier breeding probably happened in modern Israel, where populations overlapped.

But now there is new DNA analysis of a 40,000 year old human jaw found in Romania, and it points to the possibility that interbreeding didn’t stop Continue reading

Posted in human evolution, interbreeding, neandertal.

NIH, Human Embryos, and CRISPR

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins has just issued a statement designed to calm any worries people might have about the use of US tax dollars to pay for the latest gene-editing technologies on human embryos.

Collins is responding to a report published last week by researchers in China, claiming success in using a new technique called CRISPR/Cas9 in modifying the DNA sequence in human Continue reading

Posted in enhancement, germline modification, human enhancement. Tagged with .

Sport, Hope, and Enhancement Technologies: A New Book with Questions

I will soon have a book published with Mercer University Press on the human enhancement question in sport. This book has been in the works for quite a few years. It took me a while before I considered pulling together my interests in human enhancement and how sport functions as a religion. Of course, once I started down that path it seemed like an obvious intersection.
Should high-tech prosthetic limbs be permissible in elite sports competitions? Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized.

Human Germline Modification: Coming Soon

A sharp debate has raged in recent months about human germline modification and so-called Three Parent babies. This is a new technique that the UK government is allowing reproductive clinics to offer would-be parents who want to have a child free of serious mitochondrial disorders.  Continue reading

Posted in germline modification, human enhancement, theology and science. Tagged with .

Genetic Modification of Human Embryos: A First

Researchers in China are reporting that they have used the latest generation of gene editing techniques–CRISPR/Cas9–to modify DNA in human embryos.  The paper was published moments ago by the online journal, Protein & Cell.  It is entitled “CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in human tripronuclear zygotes” and is freely available to the public.

This publication follows weeks of speculation about whether some lab somewhere Continue reading

Posted in enhancement, germline modification, human enhancement.

Catholics Are Transhumanists? Another Surprise

A few days ago I wrote about a news report in the Catholic News Agency. I was surprised at how positive a view the writer took about Transhumanism.

So imagine my amazement when I came across a blog post today in which the author, Eugene Gan, pretty much flat out says that Continue reading

Posted in enhancement, theology and science, transhumanism. Tagged with , .

Spirituality, Smoking, and Psychedelics

Can a drug bring about a mystical or spiritual experience of such significance that it helps relieve addiction to smoking?

"Zigaretten" by S. Schmidt (Benutzer: lonestar84, eigenes Foto)

“Zigaretten” by S. Schmidt (Benutzer: lonestar84, eigenes Foto)

The answer appears to be a resounding YES. Recently the journal Current Drug Abuse Reviews published a follow-up analysis of a pilot study conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The drug in question—psilocybin, derived from “sacred mushrooms”—was administered orally to a small group of 15 volunteers in a comfortably but carefully monitored setting.

What followed next is consistent Continue reading

Posted in brain, enhancement, theology and science. Tagged with , , , .

Catholics and Transhumanism: A Surprisingly Positive View

Earlier today the Catholic News Agency posted a story about Catholic responses to human enhancement technology and transhumanism.

The story, Can We Delete Death? Transhumanism’s Lofty Goal Meets a Catholic Response, tends to emphasize caution.  Read carefully, however, it is clear that the story is offers a nuanced, even positive view of human enhancement through technology, starting with a quote from Pope Benedict: “Technology is highly attractive because it draws us out of our physical limitations and broadens our horizon.” Continue reading

Posted in enhancement, human enhancement, transhumanism. Tagged with .