Humans to become masters of their own evolution?
(Top Posts - Science - 060909)

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Bioengineers will likely control the future of humans as
a species.

by Jane Bosveld
From the March 2009 issue,
published online February 2, 2009
  http://discovermagazine.com/2009/mar/02-evolution-by-intelligent-design
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Excerpts:

... breakthroughs could bring on an age of directed reproduc-
tion and evolution in which humans will bypass the incremental
process of natural selection and set off on a high-speed genetic
course of their own. Here are some of the latest and greatest
advances.

Embryos From the Palm of Your Hand

In as little as five years, scientists may be able to create sperm
and egg cells from any cell in the body ... The technique could
... enable one person to provide both sperm and egg for an
offspring ...

The ... prediction comes in the wake of recent news that scien-
tists ... have transformed adult human skin cells into pluripotent
stem cells, the powerhouse cells that can self-replicate (perhaps
indefinitely) and develop into almost any kind of cell in the body.

In evolutionary terms, the ability to change one type of cell into
others-including a sperm or egg cell, or even an embryo-means
that humans can now wrest control of reproduction away from
nature ...

"With this breakthrough we now have a working technology
whereby anyone can pass on their genes to a child by using
just a few skin cells." ...

Gene Targeting

When we create egg and sperm on demand, we may not have
to pass along our complement of genes as is. A process known
as homologous recombination could allow us to remove unde-
sirable traits and replace them with helpful ones, one gene at
a time. ... homologous recombination can also be achieved in
the lab. By selectively adding or deleting stretches of DNA in
the (artificially) fertilized cell, scientists could knock out genes
for a disease like diabetes or insert genes coding for extra height
or intelligence.

Artificial Chromosomes

Changing an offspring's DNA gene by gene can be tedious. A
speedier route would be to introduce a multiplicity of new traits
all at once by inserting an entire new chromosome, a structured
strand of DNA containing many genes. ... [researchers] are now
conducting the foundational research needed to build functional
artificial chromosomes. ... the synthetic chromosome could even-
tually be used to shuttle genes like a kind of Trojan horse.

Some of those genes, he speculates, could convert ordinary cells
into stem cells that might reseed the immune system, aid in reju-
venation, and more. ...

"Based on what we know, the artificial chromosome is going to
be the best way to modify the genome." ... "Nature doesn't care
about individual children. Instead of rolling the dice, why don't
we take the dice and put them down in the way that parents think
is best for their children."

He anticipates the development of specialized artificial chromo-
somes-a "good health" artificial chromosome, for instance-that
could routinely be inserted into human embryos.

"You could create a generic version that has lots of good genes
like the ones known to protect against cancer, strokes, and heart
disease." ...

Our Post-Darwinian Future

Pluripotent stem cells, gene targeting, and artificial chromosomes
could leapfrog over evolution and let us take control of our genome,
maybe even turn ourselves into a whole new species.

"There is no scientific basis for thinking that we couldn't." ...

... achieving our potential "might require some deliberate changes"
to our genes. He predicts that genetic engineering will eventually
lead to what he calls "enhancement evolution."

Through the nuanced use of biotechnology, enhancement evolution
will gradually introduce genes that improve the species, one person
at a time. At that point, deliberate selection will replace natural selec-
tion as the driving force for species change. "We are not suited to
survive designed as we are." ... "We are hugely vulnerable to diseases,
and new diseases come along all the time. It's amazing we haven't
been entirely wiped out by one." ...

Enhancement evolution ... Who should have the final say on when
and how the human genome should be changed?

... if technology can enable us to eliminate disease and disabilities
from our children or insert genes that might make them smarter or
better looking, why wouldn't we use it?

As DNA guru James Watson once said, "Evolution can be just
damn cruel." At least it is today. Tomorrow the responsibility for
evolution may rest on our own shoulders-for better or for worse.

- - - end excerpts - - -

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In response, someone wrote:

> "...inventors of evil things..." Romans 1:29

Surely, the parts of the post that referred to the
following would be welcome by all who advocate
the best life possible by elimiminating anti-human
maladies and favoring pro-human progress in this
one and only certain chance we have it (pertinent
excerpts from previous post follow, and in religious
terms, don't you think that the Jesus of the gospels
would be actively in favor of eliminating disease
and enhancing human welfare):

... A process known as homologous recombination
could allow us to remove undesirable traits and
replace them with helpful ones, one gene at a time.

... By selectively adding or deleting stretches of
DNA in the (artificially) fertilized cell, scientists
could knock out genes for a disease like diabetes
or insert genes coding for extra height or intelli-
gence.

... "Nature doesn't care about individual children.
Instead of rolling the dice, why don't we take the
dice and put them down in the way that parents
think is best for their children."

He anticipates the development of specialized arti-
ficial chromosomes-a "good health" artificial chrom-
osome, for instance-that could routinely be inserted
into human embryos.

"You could create a generic version that has lots
of good genes like the ones known to protect
against cancer, strokes, and heart disease." ...

... achieving our potential "might require some
deliberate changes" to our genes. He predicts
that genetic engineering will eventually lead to
what he calls "enhancement evolution."

Through the nuanced use of biotechnology, en-
hancement evolution will gradually introduce
genes that improve the species, one person at
a time.

At that point, deliberate selection will replace
natural selection as the driving force for species
change.

"We are not suited to survive designed as we
are." ... "We are hugely vulnerable to diseases,
and new diseases come along all the time. It's
amazing we haven't been entirely wiped out by
one." ...

... if technology can enable us to eliminate disease
and disabilities from our children or insert genes
that might make them smarter or better looking,
why wouldn't we use it? ...

- - - end excerpts - - -

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In response, someone wrote:

> The only hope Humanism offers is a band-aid solution
> that leads to wrath, because you haven't trusted Jesus
> to save you from your sin.

Humanism leads to wrath? Humanism is, strictly speaking,
not related to religious status. Many religious folks are
very much into helping humans in this life, curing diseases,
technologically overcoming naturalistic threats/risks, and
endeavoring to make this one and only certain chance at
it last as long and pleasantly as possible for as many as
possible. Many non-religious folks are into that, too.

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Someone wrote:

> God's solution for the corruption that sin caused all his
> creation is fervent heat.


Myth, anti-human myth.

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Someone wrote:

> You're whole lives are spent swimming around in a the
> corrupted cess pool looking for ways to mitigate the septic
> effects, but eventually you must succomb.  Then what?
> Judgement.


Please, your messages of anti-humanism spell out in
no uncertain terms why the anti-human parts of reli-
gions remain as a risk to human welfare in this one
and only certain opportunity to experience life.

An evil God is not an appealing prospect, for anyone,
and that is the picture that the anti-human cheerleaders
of religions continue to threaten us with.

Sad, that, and until the religious depart from the ple-
thora of threats and anti-humanism profuse through-
out the ancient religious documents, humans will
remain at risk for acts of reliigous insanity, like those
committed by religious followers who murder in the
name of their interpretation of the ancient concepts
of an anti-human God.

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