A bit amusing, but I never imagined that I’d feel so compelled to become a biology apologetic, what some people call “design.” Biology is an incredible and remarkable thing, we are wonderfully and fearfully made and so is the world around us. Just the same, mankind’s very first act was to attempt to change the design and we haven’t stopped trying since.
Biology is very unpopular, it’s messy and uncomfortable and often downright gross and there seems to be a spirit within us that feels as if surely we must be destined for something better, something more sophisticated and far more dignified. There are numerous inconveniences in the biological world, the laws of physics apply for example, which is most annoying if you want to fly or something. Also walls, gravity, and aging tend to be rather unpopular.
But I still don’t want to become a spirit people, an avatar, a cyborg or some other bit of artificial intelligence that is allegedly going to be an improvement over the biological reality of our existence. Often it seems as if we seek to erase the very nature of who we are but still try to preserve that tiny little essence that supposedly makes us human. What people so often fail to understand is that our biology is a huge part of our identity, it is an integral part of what makes us human and vulnerable and somewhat gross. Biological identity, it is not something you just make in a lab or alter with a series of injections.
I happen to believe we already are spirit people, we are spirits with a body. Being temporarily planted in the biological world is actually a gift, a privilege, something worth celebrating and rejoicing over. Soon enough we will all return to our natural state, to our higher selves, to another realm outside of our understanding of the laws of physics, outside of time itself. There is no need to try to rush the process here on Earth.
Unless of course you don’t believe as I do, in which case, oh dear, because if there is no belief that people have worth and value beyond the natural world, then there really is no sound moral argument to made for not tinkering with the design. In fact, people who do not accept that we have a spiritual aspect to ourselves, can’t very well claim that we have a design at all. If we just sprouted up out of the universe randomly, than attempting to alter the very nature of ourselves is really no big deal. It’s not like anyone has intellectual property rights to us or anything.
Can I at least plead that we try to show the same concern for preserving the humans that we do for saving the polar bears? Even if we did pop up for no reason in a rather nihilistic universe full of indifference, is that not still miraculous??
So, biological tinkering, that design I am compelled to constantly try to advocate for, manifests itself in so many ways, in attempting to rewrite the scripts between men and women, in trying to alter the reproductive rules, in manipulating DNA, in gene splicing and genetically manipulating crops, in biological warfare, in artificial intelligence, in great debates over religion and philosophy and ethics. Bio-ethics, sometimes I wonder if we actually have any.
Biology has privilege. It has perks and benefits and great value. Love for example, relationships between men and women, our vulnerability, afflictions, and never-ending angst over confronting the nature of our own selves and our place in the universe. Without that built-in fail safe, the humility that comes from being forced to relentlessly confront the fragility of biological existence, people are not very nice. We’re actually quite arrogant, immoral, and totally self-serving. Most of the good qualities that we value in humans are actually forged in fire and affliction, empathy for example, humility, compassion, integrity….also contentment and inner peace.
There’s a somewhat interesting quirk of human nature, those countries that rate highest on the happiness index also tend to have the highest rates of depression and suicide and mental health problems. The statistics always stand there boldly defying our popular memes, but the truth of the matter is that these disorders are afflictions of the affluent and the privileged. Like it or not, people are far healthier in the midst of some suffering and deprivation, both physically and mentally. Naturally we are relentlessly compelled to seek the precise opposite and to create as much comfort as possible for ourselves, even though biology teaches us over and over again that this is not so good for us.
Working within the frameworks of “design,” being honest and truthful about our own selves, is how we create the greatest amount of health, fulfillment, peace, whatever is good and golden about our own existence. Stepping outside of that framework always creates more suffering and misery, sometimes not recognized and identified for years, but always there waiting for us at the other end. I often think of lobotomies and hysterectomies and all of the bizarre sciency things we used to do because we felt entitled and qualified to improve on design.
People think we’ve progressed beyond all that, that our science is now refined, but it isn’t at all. We have simply grown far more sophisticated, so now the horrors we are capable of inflicting on the world can occur on a much broader scale, with the consequences and the implications much more removed and detached from the human experience. Today we are horrified by the thought mandated lobotomy or forced sterilization, but we do not even see the hundreds of thousands of human embryos discarded every year or all the deformed babies born in the after math of chemical weapons. These things hardly even register on the human psyche anymore because we are so convinced we have now evolved and progressed beyond the superstitious and barbaric.
Oh, how wrong we are.