Wednesday, January 17, 2007

NetFuture #166

Here's a piece on the alienation of experimenters from their experiment.
We do not need to choose between arbitrary manipulation on the one hand and the pretense that we can live without affecting the destiny of our fellow creatures on the other. No living organism can exist in perfect isolation. Between the detachment of cold manipulation and that of disconnection lies another option: responsible engagement. That is, we can enter into mutually respectful conversation with the other inhabitants of the Earth. Just as we unavoidably influence the people around us and are shaped by them, so it is with all creatures on the planet.
Yet given the apparent disinterest of scientists in what animals can tell us, it is no surprise that the cow itself has more or less disappeared from our scientific and commercial calculations. Nor is it a surprise that we can say little about the wisdom or folly of a pharmed goat or re-engineered salmon. We have spent a long time training ourselves to avoid asking the right questions. We have spent a long time averting our gaze from the living organism immersed in its own way of life.
Are we asking the right questions? Last night, Jerry Rauch and I were talking about the challenges of thinking like a Christian (vs thinking secularly). I wonder if this essay on the alienation of science from the real world it studies and manipulates provides us with an answer. For a Christian, the world is not just an object to be studied, or abstract molecular mechanical models without a purpose, or any some such meaningless movement. The whole world looks towards the glory of God. It is inhabited by many animals, and even man, who was honored by God with his own image. The animals are not merely mechanistic, but have purpose and honor with God; nature matters.

For one example (among many) is Is 11:6-9
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
This is part of the messianic chapter on the coming shoot from the stump of Jesse. This is God's saving power made manifest in the world. This is God's glory and dominion. This is Jesus.

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