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Animal-Human Hybrids Spark Controversy

posted Dec 30, 2008, 1:03 PM by Jade Rubick

Animal-Human Hybrids Spark Controversy [news.nationalgeographic.com]

Scientists are blending now creating GMO animals:
Scientists have begun blurring the line between human and animal by producing chimeras—a hybrid creature that's part human, part animal.

Chinese scientists at the Shanghai Second Medical University in 2003 successfully fused human cells with rabbit eggs. The embryos were reportedly the first human-animal chimeras successfully created. They were allowed to develop for several days in a laboratory dish before the scientists destroyed the embryos to harvest their stem cells.

In Minnesota last year researchers at the Mayo Clinic created pigs with human blood flowing through their bodies.

And at Stanford University in California an experiment might be done later this year to create mice with human brains.

This reminds me of a thought experiment I had about ten years ago while in college:

Humans and apes are fairly similar genetically. Yet some religious groups think that people have souls and apes do not. Given that we can now start blending the line between humans and apes, imagine doing an experiment where..

You 'create' 100 children:

  • The first child is 100% human, 0% ape.
  • The next child is 99% human, 1% ape.
  • The next child is 98% human, 1% ape.
  • Etc...
  • The last child is 100% ape, 0% human.

Now these people believe that having a soul is a binary thing. Either you have a soul or you don't. So the question is: which of these children have souls, and which do not?

(Stop and think about that before continuing. What do you think?)

The conclusion you (inevitably I think) come to is one of the following:

  • There is a gene for having a soul. Somewhere in your genetic material is a gene that makes you have a soul. Or,
  • There is no such thing as the soul. Or,
  • The soul is not a binary thing at all. There are degrees of soul.

I won't say which of those I subscribe to, but I thought it an interesting thing to think about.

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