The cover of this week’s Economist newspaper pictures President Bill
Clinton tiptoeing along the nuclear-armed border between India and
Pakistan. The lead editorial (they are one of the world’s most
influential newspapers) terms this real estate the world’s most
dangerous place. Their case cites the never-ending squabble between now
nuclear-tipped India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Would that they were
Danger does sometimes overtake us from such trouble spots. But more
often, it creeps into our life unawares. That is simply the nature of
the beast. While the world’s newspapers worry aloud about this border
bully and that budding new terrorist, the real danger ticks away — not
in the places we watch — but in the places we never think to look. The
public school classroom. The medical research laboratory. In the minds
of six-year-old killers. The real danger is not that which lurks outside
of us. The real danger lives within us. “As a man thinketh, so he is,”
remains a prophecy routinely fulfilled within each of us.
At the end of World War II, it was General Omar Bradley, addressing
an Armistice Day crowd, who said: “We have grasped the mystery of the
atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. … The world has achieved
brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and
Some estimates place the Human Genome project within fifteen months
of completion. This is the foundation upon which we as human beings will
begin tinkering with the human species — not simply for the duration of
our lifetimes, but through heredity — forever. Brilliance without
Through eugenics, the Nazis sought to craft the master race that
would rule the world for a thousand years. They were limited to enticing
blond-hair, blue-eyed boys and girls to doing what comes naturally.
Quality control consisted mainly of screening out those that were, in
the considered scientific view of the time, “undesirable”: cripples, the
mentally substandard, those of the wrong race or ethnic background, and
those with health defects.
Our sterile, gene-snipping and splicing approaches suffer from no
such limitation. You want your child to be smarter? No problem, Mom and
Dad; tweaking here gives us a bigger brain. Athletics is your passion?
Our genetically modified offspring are guaranteed to take the Little
League like storm troopers. Would you like to experiment with longevity?
This is your chance to leave your mark on posterity. Just consult our
price list to build your designer baby.
The civilization that gave birth to science viewed mankind as God’s
creation. As such, His handiwork was due reverence and respect. The
technological elite nurtured in the primordial, evolutionary swamp, who
have long since declared God dead and named themselves His replacements,
labor under no such humble illusions. A relativistic worldview has
equipped them with situational ethics suitable for every challenge.
Right and wrong that turns on a dime. Brilliance without conscience.
Our nation’s military is under a solemn obligation to protect us from
nuclear-tipped Indias and Pakistans. Given this tasking, we can hardly
expect the military and defense establishment to remain silent on the
new technology. The world is a dangerous place; with the right
modifications, we can engineer the perfect fighting man and woman.
Enhance the early, reactionary portion of the brain; cut back on the
frontal lobes; increase the muscle mass in the arms and legs. Quick
reactions with no qualms about carrying out orders. The other side is
doing it, you understand. We must remain competitive.
Nor is life lived on the corporate battlefield easy. “People are our
most important asset,” or so the phrase goes. Why not then encourage
future mommies and daddies already working in the company to tweak this
gene and splice that one? Smart is good. The right “look” is important,
and you’ll be assuring your offspring of a top-rated job (simply consult
our pay scales and note the link to IQ). It’s all covered in your
corporate health plan. And remember your responsibilities: We must
remain competitive to pay your retirement.
Brilliance without conscience. The death of God and mankind’s
scientifically engineered resurrection in his place, all within the span
of just over a hundred human years. Technological mastery; ethical
infancy. As with nuclear weapons and battlefield designer diseases, the
sequencing genie cannot be put back into the bottle, as much as we might
wish that he could.
The genie now roaming the halls of science will not use the words
that I have used to describe our destiny under his lordship; instead, he
will speak of diseases and deformities forever decimated, of lives worth
living and those that are not. And if we are still skeptical, he will
tell us that we must do it for the children. Would we deprive them of
paradise on earth, a Garden of Eden in every town square?
The ruins of the Christian civilization upon which this technological
edifice now stands still offers the same political freedom, human
dignity and divine healing it did in the past, to any willing to explore
the crumbling intellectual and spiritual pillars. The God who lovingly
oversaw its construction and who guided the nations that rose on its
foundations is not dead and has not changed. But He is a great believer
in free will.
The world’s most dangerous place is the human heart.