Chimeras, Head Transplants, and the Ethics of Human Evolution
Presenter: John Pope
As Humanists, we believe in the fullest development of every Human being. We also rely on the scientific method to lead us to truth.
But we also affirm the dignity of Humanity. This means the ethical implications of the technical application of what science has taught us can be a concern.
Are these new scientific and technological developments a part of natural Human evolution?
Scientists have grown human cells inside pig embryos, a very early step toward the goal of growing livers and other human organs in animals to transplant into people: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/scientists-take-first-steps-to-growing-human-organs-in-pigs/
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) is preparing to lift a ban on funding for controversial medical research that incorporates human stem cells into animal embryos:http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nih-funding-human-animal-embryos-chimera-research/
Scientists have successfully cultivated a range of human body structures, that have been successfully tested in animals, and small-scale human organs known as “organoids,” which are used to study human organ function and structure at a level of detail that was previously impossible: http://www.livescience.com/53470-11-lab-grown-body-parts.html
But this article questions the need for manufacturing human organs when they are now becoming more available: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/pennsylvania-familys-loss-to-opioid-addiction-transplant-organ-donation-gift/
Here’s a fascinating example of the extent of science and technology advancing Human evolution: www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/20/russian-man-set-for-worlds-first-head-transplant/ Will brain transplants be next?
Regarding ethics: “A particular area of concern is the creation of chimeras with human brain cells. These organisms may be capable of self-awareness to the extent that they understand their identity and circumstances, which would produce unbearable suffering. Will we know when the subjective experience of such a being has crossed the generally accepted line of decency and morality?” https://www.statnews.com/2017/01/26/chimera-humans-animals-ethics/