Brave New World Here and Now

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. (Matthew 5:13-15)

In the class I currently teach on Biblical Ethics and Worldview, my students and I were recently discussing various issues about which the Church must be prepared to have an answer in our times. When Aldous Huxley wrote his classic, Brave New World, he predicted a world in which humans would not be born, but manufactured. More than that, they would be manufactured to the necessary reducible specifics that would enable them to perform the tasks to which they would be assigned. Imagine a world in which one could be predetermined to be an Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Epsilon, depending upon one’s utility. After all, why make someone smart or particularly reflective if they’re just going to perform basic, menial tasks beneath the dignity of those fortunate enough to be designed in a higher classification. All that thinking may get in the way of their productivity. It may even get them thinking about having a better place in the world. We couldn’t have that now, could we?

It may all seem like fantasy, but it is in fact closer to reality than one might think. We already have Genetic Counseling which allows parents to find out if their child is likely to be born with a genetic disease for the purpose of giving them the option of aborting that child. In fact, as Kerby Anderson, author of Christian Ethics In Plain Language, says, “Many doctors and clinics will not do genetic tests unless a couple gives prior consent to abortion.[1] This is troubling for several reasons. For one thing, a person’s value is not determined by their physical or mental capacity but by the fact that they have been created Imago Dei: in the image of God. Secondly, doctors don’t always get it right. In our class, as we talked about the sanctity of life, one student shared how she and her husband were told by their doctor that their child could be born with a particular defect and that they should consider aborting the baby. They refused the doctor’s advice based on their Christian convictions. As it turned out, their baby was born perfectly healthy, and yet, Genetic Counseling as we have it today is nothing compared to other emerging technologies.

For example, there is PGD, or Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis. This procedure allows parents the ability to “check for both desirable or undesirable traits in a developing embryo.”[2] Those embryos which meet the parents “selection criteria” are implanted while the other embryos are either destroyed or used for scientific research. If that doesn’t bother you, I hope it’s only because you didn’t understand what I just wrote. Embryos, contrary to the propagandists of the Pro-Choice movement, are simply preborn human beings. This is the same Eugenics ideology of Margate Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, and the Nazis. Yet, this is where we are. To some of us, using words like “selection criteria” in regard to having a child is reducing the experience of childbirth to purchasing a Buick with all the right amenities. A human being is more than its genetic makeup.

That is not to say that all the prospects of Genetic Engineering are bad. Research in rDNA, also knows as Gene Splicing, holds great promise of curing genetic diseases through procedures like genetic therapy and genetic surgery, enabling scientists and doctors to repair defective gene sequences, possibly even removing genetic diseases from the population. It sounds fantastic to us now, but once upon a time so did many of the common cures medical research has given us. Those with a Biblical Worldview must resist the knee-jerk reaction to demonize all such research just because there are those who would abuse it for their own personal agendas. Besides, this is one cat no one is likely to get back in the bag. To mix metaphors, this train has already left the station. What Christians must do is be informed so they can have a voice in helping to establish the ethical boundaries in which this kind of research will be done and the applications for which it will be used.

There is both great danger and great potential. There are, without question, certain boundaries that should never be crossed. To me, one of those boundaries is human cloning, and yet, this has already been accomplished at the embryonic level. The first such embryos were brought to the blastocyst stage (150 to 200 cells) and then effectively destroyed for their stem cells. To those of us with a Biblical worldview, those embryos represent human life, whether they’re manufactured in a petri dish or conceived in a mother’s womb. What do we say about the nascent life produced in such cases? Do such persons have rights? Some want to take cloning to the fetal stage, where organs can be harvested for the one cloned, the argument being that it would eliminate the fuss of having to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of one’s life since the organ would come from a perfect genetic match.[3] This “fetal farming,” as it is known, sounds like something out of Dr. Mengele’s laboratory, which should make us realize that if the choice is left to those who have no regard for the Creator or the sanctity of human life, there will be no bottom to this, and there are those who will have no compunction whatsoever in using, or abusing, such science for their own selfish or monetary ends.

Fantastical or not, these are the issues of our times. We cannot afford to sit on the fence, or have our head in the sand, assuming someone else has all this covered. You and I are called to be salt and light in a dark world. For too long a few in the intellectual elite, so-called, or the loudest voices among the self-interest groups, have been making the decisions for the rest of us while the Church has been silent. We have paid for our silence before, such as in the days when Hitler rose to power and the Church in Germany stood by and let the unthinkable happen. The premiums of such idleness, indifference, or cowardice are far too high. Someone must step up and be counted. That someone is me and you. We can dialogue, call our Congressmen and Senators, blog, or otherwise get involved so that our voice rises above the cacophony of confusion in our times.

I believe there is a clarion call for believers to get engaged in the challenges our society faces. How – tell me how – can we be salt and light any other way? If our light goes out, there is none else to shine in its place. This is our hour to shine the light of truth on what otherwise could become a very dark world indeed.

[1] Kerby Anderson, Christian Ethics In Plain Language (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2005) 66.

[2] Ibid

[3] see article: Wesley J. Smith, “Brave New World is Closer Than You Think”, Human Life Review XLIII, No. 1 (Winter 2017): 53

Dr. Randy Bunch is the pastor of West Kern Christian Center, located at 1000 6th Street in Taft, California, as well as a graduate advisor and adjunct professor at Summit Bible College in Bakersfield, California. He is the author of several books, including his new devotional, Immutable: Changeless Truth for a Changing World. For more information, or to purchase your copy, go to immuntablebook.com. For more information on the ministries of WKCC, you can go the ministry’s website at wkcconnect.org.

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