Faith versus Reason in the Human Genome Project

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Faith versus Reason in the Human Genome Project

Do humans have the right to play God? This question lurks as a major factor when describing the objective of the Human Genome Project. The Human Genome Project is an "international research organized to characterize the genomes of human and selected model organisms through complete mapping and sequencing of their DNA."1 When the characterization of genes occurs, many technological breakthroughs will result. The idea of having a Human Genome Project was conceived in the mid 1980’s. It is expected to be completed in 2003. "Congress funded the Human Genome Project hoping it would lead to cures."2 Although the Human Genome Project appears to be appealing and beneficiary, it does have its doubters and opponents. One particular controversy is the topic concerning the Human Genome Project is the theme of faith versus reason. The proponents believe that the Human Genome Project can only benefit people by unlocking the codes of certain diseases. Some opponents have created the belief that humans could assume the role of God. They feel human lives could be controlled like puppets. The major opponent’s figure by diagnosing diseases of inherited traits, that there will be an effect on topics concerning gene enhancement, evolution, and abortion.

Due to the many technological advances, the Human Genome Project could lead to such a thing as Gene Enhancement. Gene Enhancement can be described as "the use of genetic engineering to supply a characteristic that parent might want in a child that does not involve the treatment or prevention of disease."3 By enhancing genes, scientists could basically play the role of God. Proponents of gene enhancement believe that scientists could make the world a better place. Through enhancement of genes, parents can improve their child’s overall well being. For example, if there were a family characteristic of being short, the doctors would be able to change the genes around and make the child tall. Human intelligence could drastically improve, leading to an improvement in world conditions. If intelligence increased, there may be potential for technological breakthroughs.

Many, however, oppose the concept of gene enhancement. The opponents feel that the scientists will have too much power. They continue to question the responsibility of physicians modifying a patient's inheritence.4 They feel the diversity God intended to have would eventually disappear. Parents would all want their children to have superior characteristics, therefore leading to a common bond and competition between all children.

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