Cloning, Genetics, AI, & God

 

Should we engage in human cloning?  Genetic engineering?  Artificial Intelligence?

 

One way to examine these questions is to consider the phrase, “Should we ‘Play God’?”  Do we have a “God Complex” if we engage in cloning?”

 

The phrase “God complex” is actually a misnomer.  The phrase “God complex” is related, in common language usage, to other ideas such as “messiah complex,” “narcissism,” “hubris,” “megalomania,” “superiority complex,” and others.  These ideas have little to do with a more evolved and holistic idea of divinity.  In turn, the reason why these terms and phrases have fallen into constellation with each other is based on an outdated or even childish notion of divinity.  This notion centers around an idea of God as a super-human who has, e.g., efficient (i.e., “direct”) power to manipulate the immediately surrounding physical environment, and thus creates a human being by physically blowing air into a clay form located in three dimensional space at a given time, and exhibits human emotions such as anger, sadness, joy, and although God is purported to know the future, God gets upset when humans act in certain ways, etc.  This is the “classic theological” notion of divinity, as opposed to “process,” “neoclassical,” and other more cogent forms of conceiving God.

 

This classical notion of divinity is responsible for much atheism today, and is responsible for theological problems such as “the problem of evil.”  (We could discuss why all this is so, which is what Charles Hartshorne and others call “the medieval synthesis” which was a pushing together of ancient Greek notions of divinity with medieval notions, and resulted in an a set of characteristics which are illogical–however going into the details of this is too involved for the moment.)

 

The upshot of all this is that in creating robots or creating artificially intelligent structures is infinitely different from the kind of creation that divinity probably engaged in.  (I say “probably” because I’m not claiming to know, only speculating about what makes sense.)  Any God worthy of worship would operate throughout the fabric of space-time in a ubiquitous manner (through persuasive power as opposed to efficient power) and would create, through a persuasive power exercised over billions of years, the conditions under which the universe would evolve to it’s present state.

 

SO: Whatever we can come along and do, 15 billion years later, with a miniscule amount of efficient causation or power, only amounts to manipulating in tiny ways an extremely small part of a vastly complex, multidimensional universe.  The reality of the created universe, as created by God over billions of years, is what the disciplines of science, philosophy, and religion are trying to get a handle on.  And no doubt we’ll continue for millennia trying to figure it out.  So whatever little “intelligent robots” we can create with our tinkerings are just fine–there’s little to worry about in terms of ethics or morality.

 

However, having said all that, it’s also true that humanity must proceed carefully and think about the larger philosophical and moral questions as we evolve ourselves.  But the question of whether we SHOULD engage in human cloning, genetic engineering, A.I., etc., is answered quite easily: of course we should.  There’s no stopping us, anyway. And those who think we’re “playing God” either have a childish (classical) idea of divinity, or if they have a more advanced theological perspective, they need to see a psychiatrist because their thinking is radically grandiose!

 

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