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Human Rights Without God: A Dialogue
Okay, so humanists don’t have strong reasons for their faith in human rights. Do Christians have strong reasons for believing in Christianity? Strong in the terms Douthat is talking about here? If you already think that Christianity “makes sense” – that is to say, is persuasive on its own terms – then you don’t need to have a conversation about whether believing in it is pragmatically necessary for society; you already believe it. If you don’t already think Christianity makes sense, then why is it pragmatically necessary to believe in Christianity in order to believe in human rights and human dignity? Why can’t you just believe in those things directly? That’s Sanchez’s question, and Douthat’s answer – that humanists don’t have strong reasons for their beliefs – is a non-sequitur. If there are no good humanistic reasons for believing in human rights, then there are no good humanistic reasons for believing in Christianity in order to believe in human rights either. And therefore there are no good humanistic reasons for believing in Christianity.
Douthat's non-sequitur reminds me of Marilynne Robinson's:
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This is the kind of thinking I would like to recommend. We don’t know the nature of Jefferson’s religious beliefs, or doubts, or disbeliefs. He seems to have been as original in this respect as in many others. But we do know he had recourse to the language and assumptions of Judeo-Christianity to articulate a vision of human nature. Each person is divinely created and given rights as a gift from God. And since these rights are given to him by God, he can never be deprived of them without defying divine intent. Jefferson has used Scripture to assert a particular form of human exceptionalism, one that anchors our nature, that is to say our dignity, in a reality outside the world of circumstance. It is no doubt true that he was using language that would have been familiar and authoritative in that time and place. And maybe political calculation led him to an assertion that was greater and richer than he could have made in the absence of calculation. But it seems fair to assume that if he could have articulated the idea as or more effectively in other terms, he would have done it.
What would a secular paraphrase of this sentence look like? In what nonreligious terms is human equality self-evident? As animals, some of us are smarter or stronger than others, as Jefferson was certainly in a position to know. What would be the non-religious equivalent for the assertion that individual rights are sacrosanct in every case? Every civilization, including this one, has always been able to reason its way to ignoring or denying the most minimal claims to justice in any form that deserves the name. The temptation is always present and powerful because the rationalizations are always ready to hand. One group is congenitally inferior, another is alien or shiftless, or they are enemies of the people or of the state. Yet others are carriers of intellectual or spiritual contagion. Jefferson makes the human person sacred, once by creation and again by endowment, and thereby sets individual rights outside the reach of rationalization.
My point is that lacking the terms of religion, essential things cannot be said.
The funny about this argument is that in the process of attempting to establish the conclusion that without the terms of religion, essential things cannot be said, she more or less says them without the terms of religion!
Without Christianity there is no good argument for human rights. Without the language of religion, there is no way to say that all men are equal. That's the thrust of Douthat and Robinson's arguments. Well, so what? What's so great about human rights? What so great about regarding each person as equal to others in moral standing? Is there an answer? If there is, and Douthat and Robinson can say what's so great about equality and rights in secular terms, then they've undermined their original argument. If failing to believe in human rights or human equality would lead to intolerable consequences, then it seems we can just cut out the theology and point directly at the intolerable consequences by way of grounding our support for human rights and human equality.
What Douthat seems to me to be saying is that, as a matter of historical fact, we would not find the intolerable consequences intolerable if not for our Christian inheritance. I think there's a good chance that this is true. But, again, so what? As a matter of historical fact, plenty of people do believe in human rights and human equality without religion. Indeed, as Western culture secularizes, it seems to do better and better in terms of taking rights and equality seriously. So what's was the worry?
Douthat and Robinson both seem to want to say ... Actually, let's make this a dialogue. It might be clearer that way. We can start anywhere because the whole thing goes round and round....
Christian: There is nothing in the secular worldview that can account for human rights or equality.
Naturalist: Sure there is! A morality of rights and equality prevents intolerable consequences
Christian: Look here, Naturalist. I keep saying this and you won't listen. You would not find those consequences intolerable if not for our culture's Christian heritage. The intolerability of those consequences presupposes a certain religious metaphysics.
Naturalist: Ridiculous! Okay. You like stories. I'll tell you a story. It's even true. I have a Jewish friend--let's call her Sarah--who, in her twenties, decided she doesn't believe in God or revelation or anything like that. Nevertheless, she finds pork completely digusting and won't eat it. Do you say she's not entitled to her disgust?That it doesn't count as a good reason for her not to eat pork, just because it originates causally in her belief in a revealed religious doctrine she no longer takes herself to reason to accept?
Christian: No. Of course not. De gustibus ...
Naturalist: No? But why not? It seems to me your reasoning implies that Sarah has to make a choice. That she can have Judaism and her disgust for pork, or she can give up Judaism and her disgust for pork, but she can't give up Judaism and keep her disgust.
Christian: I can see what you're trying to do, but it won't work.
Christian: Suppose you're right. You're saying that when secular liberalism finds the "intolerable consequences" intolerable, it does so for basically the same reason Sarah finds pork disgusting.
Naturalist: Pretty much. Just as Sarah's disgust gives her a perfectly acceptable reason not to eat pork, the secular liberal's horror at the likely consequences of not treating people as rights-bearing moral equals gives them a perfectly acceptable reason to affirm that people are rights-bearing moral equals.
Christian: Don't you hear yourself? You've reduced human equality and rights to a matter of taste. But you're talking about grounds for accepting a proposition: that people are rights-bearing moral equals. Either they are or they are not. Your argument amounts to holding your nose and saying "Ewww! Gross!" to the proposition that people are not rights-bearing moral equals. But it doesn't give us any evidence to think they are.
Naturalist: Oh, you're slick. But, no. My argument amounts to saying that horror of injustice and suffering is good enough reason to champion bulwarks, like belief in rights and equality, against injustice and suffering.
Christian: Now we're getting somewhere. First of all, whether or not treating people a certain way amounts to "injustice" depends on what rights we think people have. You can't say that the reason people have rights is that otherwise they would be treated unjustly. That begs the question.
Naturalist: I'm not so sure, but it's not that important. I can stick to suffering. Suffering is suffering. And death.
Christian: Good. So now the question is whether horror is the appropriate response to suffering and death.
Naturalist: I see you're smiling. You think you've got me cornered, don't you? But all you've really managed to do is call into question whether disgust is for Sarah an appropriate response to the idea of eating pork. But I think you conceded it's reason enough for her not to eat pork.
Christian: Really? This is where you plant your flag? You're happy with equality and rights having no firmer foundation than taste?
Naturalist: Don't be so quick to dismiss taste. All judgment functions like taste. When we say someone has a good "bullshit detector," we're praising their epistemic taste. Seeing what's wrong with an argument isn't so different from seeing what's wrong with a drawing. And you like Aristotle, right? Aristotle basically teaches that the practical wisdom is a matter of sensibility. And there are more or less refined sensibilities, better and worse taste.
Christian: You're trying to wriggle out of it. Just admit it. You don't think there's anything "out there" that makes belief in human equality and human rights rationally mandatory.
Naturalist: I can't wriggle out of something I totally agree with. Morality just isn't like logic, and the conclusions of moral arguments are pretty much never "rationally mandatory." Again, I've got Aristotle on my side. Morality isn't much like math and it's an elementary error to expect moral arguments to have the clarity and certainty of math or logic.
Christian: I still say you're wriggling. You're being evasive and you know it. How is the argument that it's good taste to approve of human rights supposed to stand up the assertion that it isn't, that it's in bad taste?
Naturalist: You think I'm evasive because you're hung up the idea that moral principles need some kind of super-secure justification that somehow makes moral disagreement evaporate. That's completely fanciful, and it's unfair to accuse me of a sort of dishonesty for rejecting your unrealistic standards.
Christian: Sorry. My intent isn't to question your honesty. But I don't think it's at all unreasonable to demand that weighty moral principles have a more secure foundation than our whimsically contingent tastes.
Naturalist: Sure. OK, let me answer your previous question: what do I say to say someone who says rights and equality are in bad taste? That this is all "nonsense on stilts"? You do what you do whenever there is a disagreement. You try to help the other person see it your way. You get them to focus on the considerations you think they're overlooking. You point out why you think their position is faulty. Why it implies things you know they reject. How do you get someone to accept that the Beatles are a better band than Blink 182? You ask them to listen harder! You point to what they're missing. There's no mathematical proof, but that doesn't mean there's not a right answer, or that we're helpless to change minds through deliberation.
Christian: I think we're getting back to our initial disagreement. I say you're only going to be able to cajole and goad someone into accepting that the consequences of denying equality and rights are unacceptable if they've already absorbed certain Christian values.
Naturalist: You clearly think you're saying something significant, but I don't understand what it is.
Christian: You're bullheaded, is why.
Naturalist: Maybe. I think you're bullheaded. You want a secure foundation for rights? How is Christianity a secure foundation if I've got no reason to believe it? Is Christianity "rationally mandatory"? I know you don't think so. You think one has to have faith.
Christian: That's right. Reason gets you a long way toward Christianity, but it doesn't get you all the way.
Naturalist: Right. So what gets you all the way? A significant emotional experience that you happen to interpret as an experience of the divine? Tell me that's not "whimsically contingent"!
Christian: That's not whimsically contingent.
Naturalist: Cute. But, seriously. If I keep pressing you, sooner or later we'll get to some kind of raw judgment about religious experience that is far, far, far from rationally mandatory.
Christian: So you say.
Naturalist: So, I say knock it off. I don't think we actually do disagree all that much. You're really no different from me. You find the "intolerable consequences" intolerable for very same reasons I do: it's what our culture, both religious and secular, teaches us. We've been coached to feel this way. Our sentiments of approbation and disapprobation have been cultivated by our family, friends, and teachers. And we've both been taught that this particular course of sentimental education is justified because certain traditions based on certain middle-eastern myths recommend it. I've rejected the authority of these traditions and you haven't. That's it! That's the whole story our difference.
Christian: I suppose next you're going to tell me that if I'd been born in India, I'd believe in Indian "myths" instead?
Naturalist: Well you would, wouldn't you? I guess it's pretty good luck getting yourself born in the right religion, huh?
Christian: I can't say I'm not grateful.
Naturalist: Well, I'm grateful, too. Yet, you've got to admit, the time and place into which we're born is whimsically contingent, if anything is. That doesn't mean I'm not damn glad I grew up in a culture that takes equality and rights dead serious. We owe a lot to that fact. And that's reason enough to go on taking equality and rights seriously. It's reason enough to take them even more seriously, actually. If Christianity's partly responsible for our relative happy circumstances, then bully for Christianity. Give Christianity a medal. It's a ladder we climbed to get where we are. But the ladder isn't holding us up. Let's put it in a museum. Let's gild it, even. Terrific ladder. Let's be glad to say so.
Christian: I'm not so sure the liberal sensibility can survive without Christianity. I'm not so sure it's a ladder, and not a pillar.
Naturalist: Well, I'm not going to try to stop you from holding up liberal civilization through ardent churchgoing. But I think churchgoing is doomed in the long run. Just look at the trends! So you're really not helping by casting aspersions on secular attempts to uphold equality and rights. That's how our cherished cultural infrastructure is going to be replenished. That's the pillar of the future. Why not just pitch in?
Christian: I'll do my best the best way I know how. I'll pray for you.
Naturalist: Thanks, man.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
A new study finds surprising evidence of the self-evolution of urban foxes.
- A study from the University of Glasgow finds urban foxes evolved differently compared to rural foxes.
- The skulls of the urban foxes are adapted to scavenging for food rather than hunting it.
- The evolutionary changes correspond to Charles Darwin's "domestication syndrome."
How much can living in the city change you? If you were an urban fox, you could be evolving yourself to a whole new stage and becoming more like a dog, according to a fascinating new study.
Researchers compared skulls from rural foxes around London with foxes who lived inside the city and found important variations. Rural foxes showed adaptation for speed and hunting after quick, small prey, while urban fox skulls exhibited changes that made it easier for them to scavenge, looking through human refuse for food, rather than chasing it. Their snouts were shorter and stronger, making it easier to open packages and chew up leftovers. They also have smaller brains, not meant for hunting but for interacting with stationary food sources, reports Science magazine.
Interestingly, there was much similarity found between the male and female skulls of the urban foxes.
The observed changes correspond to what Charles Darwin called the "domestication syndrome," comprised of traits that go along with an animal's transition from being wild, to tamed, to domesticated.
The study was led by Kevin Parsons, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Glasgow.
"What's really fascinating here is that the foxes are doing this to themselves," Parsons told the BBC. "This is the result of foxes that have decided to live near people, showing these traits that make them look more like domesticated animals."
The researchers are not suggesting you should go out and get a fox as a house-pet just yet. But they are seeing the evolutionary process taking place that's moving the urban foxes along the path towards becoming more like dogs and cats, explained the study's co-author Dr. Andrew Kitchener from National Museums Scotland.
A fox beneath a tree in Greenwich park, south east London on May 14, 2020.
Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP
"Some of the basic environmental aspects that may have occurred during the initial phases of domestication for our current pets, like dogs and cats, were probably similar to the conditions in which our urban foxes and other urban animals are living today," said Kitchener. "So, adapting to life around humans actually primes some animals for domestication."
The specimen came from the National Museum Scotland's collection of around 1,500 fox skulls.
You can read the study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
A fox at the LV County Championship, Division two match between Surrey and Derbyshire at The Brit Oval on April 9, 2010 in London, England.
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
Is Bitcoin akin to 'digital gold'?
- In October, PayPal announced that it would begin allowing users to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrencies.
- Other major fintech companies—Square, Fidelity, SoFi—have also recently begun investing heavily in cryptocurrencies.
- While prices are volatile, many investors believe cryptocurrencies are a relatively safe bet because blockchain technology will prove itself over the long term.
Presentation slide from Sanja Kon's presentation on the evolution of money at 2020 Web Summit
Credit: Sanja Kon<p>The move came shortly after the payments company Square invested $50 million into Bitcoin, and after Fidelity announced that it was opening a Bitcoin fund into which qualified purchasers could invest <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-26/fidelity-launches-inaugural-bitcoin-fund-for-wealthy-investors" target="_blank">(minimum investment: $100,000)</a>. Together, this institutional backing might have something to do with Bitcoin's recent surge back to near its 2017 price peak of $19,783. (Bitcoin is listed at 19,384.30 as of Dec. 3.)<br></p>
Presentation slide from Sanja Kon's presentation on the evolution of money at 2020 Web Summit
Credit: Sanja Kon<p>But more importantly, it suggests cryptocurrencies might soon have the opportunity to prove themselves in real-world use cases. After all, skeptics have long doubted the ability of cryptocurrencies to go mainstream as a form of everyday payment. But people seem increasingly comfortable with digital payment systems.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The entire world is going to come into digital first," Schulman said at Web Summit, adding that PayPal's services already go hand-in-hand with cryptocurrencies. "As we thought about it, digital wallets are a natural complement to digital currencies. We've got over 360 million digital wallets and we need to embrace cryptocurrencies."</p><p>Sanja Kon, vice president of global partnerships at the cryptocurrency payments processor company UTRUST, also spoke at Web Summit about the increasing adoption of digital payments:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Physical cash is becoming more and more obsolete. And the next step in the evolution is digital currency."</p><p>Kon noted some of the inherent advantages of cryptocurrencies, namely ownership. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"For many people, this is really the main benefit of cryptocurrency: Users owning cryptocurrencies are able to control how they spend their money without dealing with any intermediary authority like a bank or a government, for example," Kon said, adding that there are no bank fees associated with cryptocurrencies, and that international transaction fees are significantly lower than wire transfers of fiat currency.</p><p>Kon said cryptocurrencies have unique growth opportunities in areas where people aren't integrated into modern banking systems:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"With cryptocurrencies and blockchain, with the use of just a smartphone and access to internet, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies can be available to populations of people and users without access to the traditional banking system."</p>
Bitcoin as 'digital gold'<p>Still, it could take years for people to start using cryptocurrencies for everyday purchases on a large scale. Despite this, many cryptocurrency advocates see digital currencies, particularly Bitcoin, as a way to store value—digital gold, essentially.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I don't think Bitcoin is going to be used as a transactional currency anytime in the next five years," billionaire investor Mike Novogratz recently told <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-23/novogratz-says-bitcoin-is-digital-gold-not-a-currency-for-now?srnd=markets-vp" target="_blank">Bloomberg</a>. "Bitcoin is being used as a store of value. [...] "Bitcoin as a gold, as digital gold, is just going to keep going higher. More and more people are going to want it as some portion of their portfolio."</p><p>There are obvious parallels between gold and Bitcoin: Both are mined, do not degrade over time, are finite in supply, and aren't directly tied to the value of fiat currency, making them <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-gold-inflation/gold-as-an-inflation-hedge-well-sort-of-idUSKCN1GD516" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">relatively invulnerable to inflation</a>. The obvious objection is that the price of Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general, is far more volatile than gold.</p><p>But for investors who believe the inherent value of cryptocurrency technology will prove itself over the long term, these price fluctuations are just bumps on the long road to the future of currency. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It's no longer a debate if crypto is a thing, if Bitcoin is an asset, if the blockchain is going to be part of the financial infrastructure," Novogratz said. "It's not if, it's when, and so every single company has to have a plan now."</p>
Singapore has approved the sale of a lab-grown meat product in an effort to secure its food supplies against disease and climate change.
Approve for your dining pleasure<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dd3f57f8baf14e654812d30a309d1f17"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/307gysA18_E?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><a href="https://www.ju.st/en-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Eat Just</a>, a company that produces animal-alternative food products, announced the news earlier this week. In what the company is calling a world first, Singapore has given it permission for a small-scale commercial launch of their GOOD Meat brand product line. For the initial run, the cultured chicken meat will be sold as an ingredient in "chicken bites."</p><p>"Singapore has long been a leader in innovation of all kinds, from information technology to biologics to now leading the world in building a healthier, safer food system. I'm sure that our regulatory approval for cultured meat will be the first of many in Singapore and in countries around the globe," Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just, <a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201201006251/en/Eat-Just-Granted-World%E2%80%99s-First-Regulatory-Approval-for-Cultured-Meat" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">said in a release</a>.</p><p>According to the release, Eat Just underwent an extensive safety review by the Singapore Food Agency. It provided officials "details on the purity, identity and stability of chicken cells during the manufacturing process, as well as a detailed description of the manufacturing process which demonstrated that harvested cultured chicken met quality controls and a rigorous food safety monitoring system." It also demonstrated the consistency of its production by running more than 20 cycles in its 1,200-liter bioreactors.</p><p>While Eat Just did not offer details on its propriety process, it likely follows <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24032080-400-accelerating-the-cultured-meat-revolution/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">one similar to other lab-grown meats</a>. It starts with muscle cell samples drawn from a living animal. Technicians then isolate stem cells from the sample and culture them <em>in vitro</em>. These cultured stem cells are then placed in a bioreactor, essentially a fermenter for fleshy cells. The bioreactor contains scaffolding materials to keep the growing tissue from falling apart as well as a growth material—the sugars, salts, and other nutrients the tissue needs to grow. As the cells grow, they begin to differentiate into the muscle, fat, and other cells of meat tissue. Once grown, the tissues are formed into a meat product to be shipped to restaurants and supermarkets.</p>
An abattoir abatement?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg2Mjg5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODg1NDI3N30.AYmFJfWQbPjK-o1IatyFHL-OLjcfXBMmQKYyvz4oT3s/img.jpg?width=980" id="8a82d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="93f824fe4c6f397ab2b65e4665847e71" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A graph showing the number of animals slaughtered in the United States per year from 1961–2018.
Credit: Our World in Data<p>Singapore's approval is an important step in support for clean meats—so-called because they don't require animal slaughter and would likely leave a reduced carbon footprint—but hurdles remain before widespread adoption is possible.</p><p>The most glaring is the price. The first lab-grown hamburger was eaten in London in 2013. <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-23576143" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">It cost roughly $330,000</a>. As with any new technology, investment, iteration, and improved manufacturing will see the price drop substantially and quickly. For comparison, Eat Just's chicken will be priced equivalent to premium chicken.</p><p>Other hurdles include up-scaling production, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00373-w" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the need for further research</a>, and developing techniques to reliably produce in-demand meats such as fish and beef. Finally, not all countries may be as receptive as Singapore. Countries with large, entrenched meat industries may protect this legacy industry through a protracted and difficult regulatory process. Though, the meat industry itself is investing in lab-grown meat. Tyson Foods, for example, has <a href="https://euromeatnews.com/Article-Tyson-Foods-announces-investment-in-clean-meat/697" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">invested in the food-tech startup Memphis Meats</a>, the company that debuted the world's first beef meatball.</p><p>"I would imagine what will happen is the U.S., Western Europe and others will see what Singapore has been able to do, the rigours of the framework that they put together. And I would imagine that they will try to use it as a template to put their own framework together," <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eat-just-singapore/singapore-approves-sale-of-lab-grown-meat-in-world-first-idUSKBN28C06Z" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tetrick told Reuter's during an interview</a>.</p><p>Regardless of the challenges, the demand for meat substitutes is present and growing. In 2020, plant-based substitutes like Beyond Meat and Impossible foods <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/plant-based-meat" target="_self">gained a significant foothold in supermarkets</a> as meat-packing factories became coronavirus hotspots. The looming threat of climate change has also turned people away from meat as animal products. Livestock production is environmentally taxing and leaves <a href="http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/carbon-footprint-factsheet" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a much larger carbon footprint</a> than grain and vegetable production. </p><p>Then there's the moral concern of animal cruelty. In 2018 alone, 302 million cows, 656 million turkeys, 1.48 billion pigs, and a gob-smacking 68 billion chickens were <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/animals-slaughtered-for-meat" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">slaughtered for meat worldwide</a>. And those figures do not include chickens killed in dairy or egg production.</p><p>If brought to scale and widely available, clean meats could become serious competitors to traditional meat. <a href="https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/meat-alternatives" target="_self">One report has even predicted</a> that 60 percent of the meat people eat by 2040 won't come from slaughtered animals. It could be just the thing for people looking for a meat substitute but who find tofurkey as distasteful as, well tofurkey.</p>