Ending Child Abuse!
Peter Lawler is Dana Professor of Government and former chair of the department of Government and International Studies at Berry College. He serves as executive editor of the journal Perspectives on Political Science, and has been chair of the politics and literature section of the American Political Science Association. He also served on the editorial board of the new bilingual critical edition of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, and serves on the editorial boards of several journals. He has written or edited fifteen books and over 200 articles and chapters in a wide variety of venues. He was the 2007 winner of the Weaver Prize in Scholarly Letters.\r\n\r\nLawler served on President Bush's Council on Bioethics from 2004 – 09. His most recent book, Modern and American Dignity, is available from ISI Books.\r\n\r\nFollow him on Twitter @peteralawler.
The transhumanist Kyle Munkittrick has come after me for not making arguments. Mainly he seems ticked off that I speculated that the biotechnological enhancement of children might well not be so voluntary. His response doesn't seem to me to be an argument: He asserts it will be voluntary.
But the very intolerance of his post suggests otherwise. He says that teaching children creationism is a form of child abuse. It's hard to know what creationism means to him; it seems indistinguishable from fundamentalism. And he doesn't say anything to keep the reader from concluding believing the world is created--and so the theory of evolution doesn't explain it all--is always fundamentalism. He doesn't say anything to keep the reader from concluding that teaching children to believe in a personal Creator is child abuse. Who doesn't believe that child abuse should be illegal?
He also says it's clear to him that, as people get smarter, they get less religious. Religion is evidence for stupidity. So it's reasonable for him to believe it will wither away as cognitive enhancement kicks in. He criticizes me for saying that the enhanced or designer world will be Godless (which I didn't say). But that our future will be and should be Godless seems self-evident to him.
I actually think that enhanced people will become in some ways more miserable than people ever have been and long for God more than ever. I can't help but notice how neurotically self-obsessed and death-haunted people sophisticated people already are.
I also notice that all kinds of serious believers aren't fundamentalists and are actually quite brilliant, just as I notice that dogmatic atheism is making lots of smart people kind of silly. Our nouveau atheists are trying to lose themselves in fantasies about an impossible transhumanist future. They're futilely trying to divert themselves from their anxious experiences of personal contingency. All the HOPE I have for our REAL futures is for another post.
But for now: Our transhumanist believes that designing babies--including basic cognitive and emotional upgrades--is self-evidently beneficial. And so those who choose to have unenhanced children the old-fashioned way for (obviously stupid) religious reasons will obviously be engaging in child abuse. That'll be child abuse much worse than merely teaching children immoral lies; it'll be denying them for no good reason the best possible biological or post-biological life available. Why does he think that will be legal?
I do agree with Kyle that there's a stong merely speculative dimension to anything we say about designing babies and all that now.
So the only thing he says that's genuinely objectionable is his completely misinformed and prejudiced dissing of President Bush's Council on Bioethics. Adam Keiper sets the record straight here.
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