Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
    
Click to return to the Evolution Home Page
darwin change extinction survival sex humans religion
humans    
   
 
Should We Create Babies By Design?

Consider this...
Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4


At one end of the spectrum of public opinion is the view that any explicit manipulation of human biology is undesirable. Whether or not this philosophy has merit, it is operationally moot. For millennia, humans intentionally have altered our external and internal bodily environments in ways that influence health ... Some of the first languages uttered by primitive peoples probably included words describing particular plants and animals perceived to be sources of desirable medicinal products.
--John Avise, The Genetic Gods, 1998

Scientists of tomorrow will have a power that exceeds all the powers known to humankind: that of manipulating the genome. Who can say for sure that it will be used only for the avoidance of hereditary illness?
--Monette Vaquin, Life in a Test Tube: Ethics and Biology, 1991

Molecular biology now enables us not only to read the molecular texts that define and direct life, but to edit and rewrite them. Automated equipment and biochemical tools act like molecular word processors, "searching" for specific genetic "words" and "sentences," "cutting" them out of one piece of DNA, and "pasting" them into another.
--Joseph Levine and David T. Suzuki, The Secret of Life, 1998

(Boldface added.)


sperm fertilizing an egg
spacer.gif
Birth control already influences how couples control their reproduction and heredity. Will new techniques to screen for and alter genes be a radical shift?
  biotechnology laboratory
spacer.gif
Genetic engineering is used today to produce insulin for a mass market. One day, the defective gene that causes diabetes might be fixed in a human fetus.
 
stone tools
spacer.gif
Prehistoric tools affected human health and heredity by helping humans thrive while other humanlike species went extinct.


1920s photo of child stricken with diabetes
spacer.gif
Before the medical use of insulin, diabetics were doomed to an early death, and were unlikely to pass on their genes to future generations.
spacer.gif
View in
QuickTime or RealPlayer
 



Do the benefits of new genetic tools outweigh the risks?

Yes / No


 
  related web activities  
   
Science & Faith
How can we reconcile evolution and religion?
 
 
Evolution Revolution
Explore the revolution and the controversies around it.
 
 
  related topics  
   
  Why Evolution Matters  
   
  Science, Faith, and Politics  
 
 
         
 
Image Credits      
 
Videos Web Activities Site Guide About the Project FAQ Glossary Site Map Feedback Help Shop