Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Gattaca: One for the Christmas Shopping List

Looking for a gift for a loved one this Christmas? Why not consider buying them Gattaca, the future-flick in which ordinary humans battle to retain freedom and dignity in a World in which humans have been divided up and classified having been bred for genetic worth.

In this future world, 'Valids' are those who have been genetically engineered and 'InValids' are those who have not. In this eugenically driven nightmare vision, you are what your genes say you are and nothing more. It is, basically, a Richard Dawkins, Galton Institute, Royal Society kind of society. It is, however, the vision of a society that powerful forces at work in government, finance and the media see as one that constitutes a 'betterment' of humanity.

Something for your friends this Christmas
Fellow of the Royal Society (an illustrious group I've blogged about before) and joint winner of the Nobel Prize, John Gurdon (someone I'd never heard of until yesterday) was being interviewed by BBC Radio Four's 'The Life Scientific' and the programme was aired last night. The Telegraph have a good report of the not terribly shocking conclusion that Gurdon has come to in his suggestion that human cloning will be a reality 'within 50 years'.

Naturally, or unnaturally, rather, Gurdon supports the scientific pursuit of the goal of human cloning because people with 'ethical concerns' over such a brazen ursurping, by a scientific elite, of human reproduction are 'unenlightened' types who cling to an old moral orthodoxy which is no longer relevant to the modern World. Heaven forbid that 'ethical concerns' should stand in the way of human 'progress'. The obvious answer to this is that obviously those horrified by the ideology and medical experimentation of the Nazis just hadn't yet 'got with the programme' and 'ethical concerns' raised in the light of Dr Josef Mengele's antics were and remain unfounded.

I have to say that the whole issue of 'human cloning' got me thinking of Humane Vitae and its prophetic concern that all manner of evils would walk through the door once human societies accepted as reasonable the deliberate separation of the procreative purpose of sexual intercourse from its unitive purpose through artificial contraception.

1961 saw the contraceptive pill in the United Kingdom
The Great Divorce of the Two-fold Purposes of Sex

What in the 1960s looks to the average man and woman on the street as a sensible and 'harmless' method of limiting family size becomes, as time goes on, something with some really quite sinister repercussions especially when the State is involved.  For let's be honest, Governments across the World have, from day one (if you'll excuse the pun), been inseparable from the contraceptive age. European governments will happily cut benefits, but there is little chance of the same governments cutting back on the supply of artificial contraceptives to its adult and teenage populations which most countries provide for free. That just wouldn't be cricket! Perhaps we'll be like one of those 'third world countries' in which the government believes we can do without food but not contraceptive implants, condoms and IUDs only this time they won't be sending it abroad. Or perhaps, a deal will be offered like, 'you accept our internal depopulation plan and we'll let you have food.'

However, there is a great deal more that can be 'achieved' in terms of 'human betterment' once the separation of the sexual act from its procreative purpose has been secured in the minds of the populations of the World. The obvious example is the new status of the unborn child as a 'non-person' or 'InValid'. Before the age of artificial contraception, while it is true to say there were a number of illegal abortions performed, in the mind of man and woman making love it was well known that there would be a distinct possibility of creating new life. And while it is well known (if not well publicised by the media) that artificial contraception has not eliminated the 'risk' of pregnancy (far from it), it is now relied upon by a great portion of the populations of the World in order to prevent pregnancy. Aside from those times when couples are 'trying for a baby', the whole ethos of the sexual relationship in the UK and the West has been revolutionized as a relationship based not just on sex, but on pregnancy prevention. That is a huge shift in the popular mentality with regard to sex and one which is surely without precedent in human history.

The Human Cost: Abortion and the Contraceptive Culture

We know that artificial contraception has a failure rate, but where the invention has been successful is in the creation of a new mindset which is anti-pregnancy and anti-child, giving couples the assurance, mistaken or not, that from sex a baby will not arrive. The contraceptive mindset is perhaps even more important than the contraceptive pill, for it is this mindset which must surely account for the treatment of the unborn child once pregnancy is discovered, found to be unwanted, or perhaps genetically 'wanting' and discarded.

It is this that must account for the huge rates of abortion in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. The 200,000 unborn children in the United Kingdom are unwanted by their natural parents because they were not anticipated. In one fell swoop, the West has been turned from a civilization that believed sex = babies to one in which it is objectively the truth that for many sex = mutual masturbation. This has to be so, since sex and procreation have been reordered to divorce from each other and divorce is, interestingly, exactly what couples decided to do a lot more of after the huge social change and shift in the popular psyche.

As we know, in order to legislate for the killing of the innocent in the womb and in order for the practice to go ahead week in, week out, year in, year out, abortion has to be backed up not just by language concerning the 'rights' of women to abort their pregnancy ("Keep you Rosaries off my ovaries!"), but a lower sub-human or 'non-person' status of the unborn child in the womb ("It's my body!"). This is true for all pregnancies except wanted pregnancies and Royal pregnancies. The fact it makes little logical sense does not matter. Despite Richard Dawkins's delusions, we are not always rational creatures and are perfectly happy to accept myths, especially if loads of 'rational' 'scientific' people refuse to disagree with us. Truth, much like the unborn child, is unwanted by many.

Huge Shift in Popular Perception

The West has literally seen its collective mind changed. We see that not only has our perception of sex changed from one in which sex is entwined with human reproduction, to one in which sex is an exercise in self/mutual pleasuring, but we see too that our perception of the sacredness or value of the unborn human life has also been altered. Our perception has been changed from a view long held in Britain - and well before startling imagery from inside the womb emerged - that abortion was child destruction, to a distorted, arbitrary perception that, until a time of our choosing and for reasons of our choosing, human life in the womb is unworthy of protection. Anyone would think the human race was schizophrenic, rather than an 'enlightened' species riding the crest of a new 'enlightenment' in thought, for, after all, this is the kind of ideology that could see civilization destroy itself.

Secularism Breeds Moral Relativism - The Essential Ingredient for a Dystopia

These shifts in perception and attitudes have merged neatly with the liberal myth that what takes place in the private sphere has no impact on the public sphere because in a relativistic age, one man's idea of truth is no different or better than another's. Therefore the man who sleeps with a thousand women and commits to none of them has no negative impact on society, no matter how many abortions he causes or fatherless children he helps to create, because he's just living the dream. The abortionist who does in 50,000 - 100,000 unborn children in a career has no impact on society despite the fact he or she has left the Earth with 50,000 - 100,000 less inhabitants than it would have been blessed with had he or she not intervened. The banker who invests the savings of his clients in weird and wobbly investment schemes has no impact, apparently, on society even though he's taken someone's money and poured it down the drain without their consent. But its all okay, folks because we're all 'free' and there is no real objective truth or moral order to which we can all subscribe. This is freedom! Unless you are a poor drug addict or alcoholic who steals, begs, takes smack or causes 'anti-social behaviour' you can more or less get away with robbery and murder in the modern western world so long as you are in the right profession.

This separation of the sexual act from its procreative purpose goes on to produce new spawn in terms of medical advancements and proposals towards which 'ethical objections' lose their force and power in an age in which marriage, procreation and the natural human family are sidelined to the point of popular contempt. All of these are now held in contempt, seemingly by legislators and parliaments across the globe. The new spawn of the contraceptive age are IVF ("Who could possibly object to human embryos being stored in freezers in fertility centres now?"), human embryology research ("Just think of the medical benefits!") and now 'same-sex marriage' - a proposal and a well-funded global initiative, the success of which depends entirely upon nations accepting the idea that the concept of marriage as a procreative union of two people of the opposite sex for children has been weakened so much that the institution itself is almost entirely discredited, and should thereby be 'extended' to same-sex couples, sending its inherent meaning and purpose into oblivion.

'Any shape or form'? Today's celebs were not taught what marriage is...
Pope Paul VI: A Prophetic Voice

So when, not if, we see, in 25, 30, 50 or 100 years, the first 'human clones' produced for reasons which will doubtless be presented as entirely justifiable by the high priests in the medical and scientific community, despite our 'ethical objections', remember that Pope Paul VI was right.

Remember, too, that this was only achievable by the Royal Society fellow eugenicists working throughout the United Kingdom because of the original sin - the original myth that led to the divorcing of the unitive from the procreative purpose of sexual intercourse and the destruction of the personhood of the unborn child flowing from that separation in the popular imagination.

When even some of the more outlandish visions of Gattaca are presented to the World as examples of the potential progress of humanity then remember Humanae Vitae then and remember the Church was right. When the African population - a population that never campaigned for birth control - shrinks because the eugenicists in the West have successfully inhibited breeding and birth, remember Pope Paul VI. When you begin to see the United Kingdom encouraging, through State machinery, the kind of one or two-child policy that has ruined the demographics and hearts of mothers and fathers of China, in this country, remember Pope Paul VI and that the Catholic Church was right. When marriage licences have to be purchased or provided for individuals deemed worthy to be able to breed, remember Pope Paul VI and that the Catholic Church was right. It cannot be emphasised enough - what we are seeing now and what is to come was only possible because of not just 1967, but 1961.

Nobel winner, John Gurdon: No 'ethical concerns' here...
Freedom, peace, happiness and justice will never be served by the eugenic dream because the eugenic dream places vulnerable and weak human life at the service of the powerful for its exploitation and servitude. Human 'betterment' is never achieved through such exploitative means.

The New Priests

None of this, however, bothers the likes of the Nobel Prize winner, who looks forward to the day when, "...reproduction, out of our control" will be "reproduction totally in our control". Who's 'we', John? According to him there's nothing unnatural about that because "antibiotics aren't natural", are they? Ethical concerns over IVF and embryology are "false concerns" and all concern over such ideas as cloning constitute "unhelpful criticism". New technology will, in the future, afford to science, "new ways of creating babies in which we control the DNA of future children."

The great high priest proclaimed, checking for 'normality' in cloned frogs, "You cannot call a frog completely normal unless it can reproduce itself." Is he saying that homosexuality isn't 'normal'? Oh, and he's pro-life too, in a weird kind of way, because, apparently, "We all started life as an egg." And there was I thinking we all started life as a fertilized egg. No point arguing with scientists though, is there. Once they're canonized as Nobel prize winners they're infallible and no amount of 'ethical concerns' are worthy of their regard or respect.

There is little doubt in my mind that what we are witnessing in this country with regard to 'same-sex marriage' is not just a debate on marriage and human sexuality.

What we are seeing is the emergence of two groups in a culture war. Those with traditional views on sex, love and especially marriage are colliding with those who believe traditional morality, or natural law, has no place in the modern world and that we have progressed beyond these outmoded views. Only one of these groups will get along with the new order of a 'brave new world'. The other group will not fit in, will be vilified and subject to all kinds of persecution - overt and covert. Yet those who do fit in and who are at ease with the 'brave new world' will not be free in any way in which we hitherto understood freedom. Not free, no, but slaves.

The Catholic Church: Defender of the Faith and Bulwark Against Scientific Tyranny

In the last analysis, the Catholic Church, though perhaps too timid and insular over the last 50 years, has always made Her opposition to the redefinition of sex, marriage and reproduction categorically clear. Her vision - Christ's vision of man and woman - is diametrically opposed to the tyranny that flows from the artificial re-ordering of sex, sexuality, marriage, procreation and the reduced, shattered status of the human embryo. The deliberate destruction of Her power and influence through the secularising of Western culture has been necessary in order to usher in an age in which Princes of the Church give way to princes of the scientific, rationalist World. It continues to be necessary to the forces of evil today, so that a new moral, political, social, cultural and ultimately ruthlessly scientific order will prevail over the forces of goodness, peace, justice and mercy. Once marriage has been redefined, destroyed and the status of the human embryo is dead in the water, with the churches silenced or relegated as relics of a former age, will future generations be in a good place in which to reject the idea of human cloning? The answer is, most probably, no. What possible objections could be raised?

Whatever the World looks like in '50 years', keep trust and faith in God who alone can bring us true happiness and fulfillment. The utopia or dystopia dreamt of by eugenicists in the Royal Society and the Galton Institute and all who knowingly or unknowingly work on their behalf is hellish - it is Hell on Earth. It has nothing to do with peace, justice, freedom or liberty. True liberty belongs to the sons and daughters of God and those who persevere to the end are promised something far greater than anything this world can offer - the Beatific Vision of the Triune God in the Kingdom of Heaven.

This is the ultimate vision of the Catholic Church. This is the ultimate destiny of Her faithful children and while Nobel prize winners can glory in their trophies, as long as human dignity is trampled upon, the crown the new priests truly desire will almost certainly elude them. We are more than our genes. We are bodies and souls, with a unique dignity from conception to natural death. The Catholic Church has a duty to resist scientific advancements that do not defend this inherent dignity and we must play our role in proclaiming Her vision of society, built on the sanctity of natural marriage and the sanctity of all human life. We must fight the redefinition of marriage. For if marriage is merely a 'loving commitment made by two persons' with no reference to children, then what possible objections could be raised when the power of human reproduction passes from married couples to the State?


PaulineG said...

"human cloning will be a reality 'within 50 years'"

Actually, Laurence, more likely it will be next year unless we do something about it.

There is a proposal out there right now to change the law to permit a procedure which, we are told, would help women who have faulty mitochondria to avoid passing this on to their children. This procedure is presented for public consumption as "mitochondrial replacement".

Mitochondrial disease can be pretty nasty, severe and often terminal, even for young children. So replacing the mitochondria passed down from the mother sounds like a pretty good idea, no?

Except when you get into the detail of this you find there are two techniques, both of which involve human germline genetic modication (in itself a serious breach of prior principle) and one of which involves human cloning.

So, next year we legalise human cloning but: shhh! DONT TELL THE PUBLIC!!!

Just tell 'em it's about mitochondrial replacement.

And the public have not been told the full truth of this insofar as it is in the public domain but not reported so not in the public consciousness. Even the HFEA, charged with the responsibility of consulting the public, present it as a consultation on 'mitichondrial replacement'.

There are those who deny this is human cloning. That is because they have a narrow concept of what human cloning is. Think of Dolly the sheep. A cell was taken from an adult sheep and its nucleus placed inside a sheep egg. The resulting cell was stimulated to develop as an embryo and there was Dolly.

But what if the nucleus which is used is taken not from an adult but from a newly-created one-cell embryo? That is what is proposed and what it does is clone that new embryo to create another, destroying the first in the process. The embryo thus created is a clone of the destroyed embryo and has no true parents. And it is seriously proposed to create children in this way.


This is still cloning. It may be politically expedient to deny this for now but for sure a few years down the road we will see extensions sought to this breach of principle (for decreasingly compelling reasons)and it will then be argued that human cloning is already sanctioned in law so no breach of principle is involved.

Not that you'll find anything on this in the mainstream media.

And even now there are those who don't have a problem in principle with human cloning and one of 'em got up and said so at one of the public meetings organised as part of the HFEA consultation.


Recommended reading on this:


Looking further (but not much) ahead see:


The (sham)consultation may be over but now is the time to start flagging up concerns with MPs.

Christmas blessings.

Mulier Fortis said...

Excellent work as always, Laurence. Gattaca is a chilling film, all the more so as life proceeds to imitate art ever more closely.

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