In Search For Cures, Scientists Create Embryos That Are Both Animal And Human


#21

Thank you for answering and I understand some of your points, but there are other questions. The article linked by the OP brings the question forward–what if a human consciousness finds itself in the body of a pig. The scientists themselves admit that the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) could become brain cells. Scientists don’t know the exact connection of brain and consciousness and I don’t think they ever will know the whole story. So this human brain lives in a pig body, in the pen with pigs, but it sees humans feeding and caring for him or her and recognizes those humans as what it itself should be. It can only grunt because it doesn’t have the nerve connections to talk, or maybe it even *can *talk. If clones like Dolly can grow into total organisms, a transfer of iPSCs could conceivably form into a human or chimeric brain.

God would know what to do about his or her soul, but He might be pretty angry with the people who messed around with the genetics in the first place.


#22

This is disturbing, and quite frankly, Frankensteinish. :eek:


#23

Cannot happen. It is God who creates the soul, and the soul provides certain faculties to the body, animation (life) being the main one.

The souls of humans and animals also animate the senses, the soul, manifesting itself through the brain, takes in input from the senses and animates the body in certain way in response.

Finally, the human soul, unique from all the others, brings about the faculties of Reason, intellect and will.

The brain gets it ability to reason, to think etc… from the soul. Without it, it is nothing but dead matter. It is the soul that is the seat of human mind, the brain is simply the means by which the intellect and will are made manifest, that the soul uses to express thought.

The ONLY WAY, I repeat the ONLY WAY, a human mind can exist within a pig is if God Himself, by a positive act (meaning something the He deliberately does, not simply allows to happen), places a human soul in the body of a pig.

Yes, the scientists have difficulty understanding that, but all that means is that they need to study more Aquinas :slight_smile:

There is no act, not a single one, that can bring about what you are suggesting through human action.

That is why the Church has deemed such research to be morally acceptable.

God would know what to do about his or her soul, but He might be pretty angry with the people who messed around with the genetics in the first place.

Why, they are just accidental properties. It is the SOUL, and the powers that it provides that is important to ‘humanness’, ‘pigness’, ‘cowness’ etc… A pig soul cannot bring about human thought, no matter how much human genetic material it has at it’s disposal.


#24

Here is some reading on how the Church views the soul, specifically in relation to it’s function as the means of animation

newadvent.org/summa/1078.htm

And it’s relation to the intellect

newadvent.org/summa/1079.htm


#25

I have read most of your references (and intend to finish) which I appreciate so I know where you are coming from. I know Aquinas was brilliant, but what I struggle with Aquinas is that he lived in the 13th century and did not have the advantage of knowledge that we do now. For example, Aquinas thought a south wind affected whether a human was born a man or a woman (ST 1:92:1). Researchers are discovering and/or understanding new things all the time, and that means that before they discovered them they didn’t know about the particular subject as well as they did afterwards. We could take that concept further. We know there are natural things we don’t know or understand now that we might in the future. Perhaps that pertains to spiritual things as well.


#26

I’m curious to play out your scenerio.

If a chimera was possible (say a humanoid in every way, but with feline eye’s) and did exist with sentience similar to a human being…would they not be given equal rights?


#27

Gene Splicing is the word you’re looking for.


#28

Yes, but what about the atheist that doesn’t make such distinctions, who only holds that what is in the rational *mind * is the yardstick of our value or personhood?

This still doesn’t address if we ever have a true chimera. What if they do experimentation with the brain? What’s the crossover between the hypothetical cow and human? Atheists love this conundrum because it makes Christians stumble around.


#29

That might be true, if we are discussing scientific truths, but things like Intellect and Will are not part of that realm

For example, how many electrons flowing through how many neutrons does it take to create Free Will.

In fact, how can a flow of electrons ( which are government by clearly understood physics principles), create Free Will at all?

Such a flow would either be fully deterministic, ( be able to be determined in advance of the first electron flowing), or quantum induced randomness. Neither are capable of producing Free Will

Yet we have it.

The same is true for the Eucharist. The scientific understanding is that it remains bread. There is no scientific discovery that can distinguish simple bread or wine from the Eucharistic Presence of Christ.

And even life itself, Science can look at the effects of life on matter ( respiration, growth) but not the substantial cause. What scientific discovery could determine or even classify angels as being alive, when they animate no matter, they are pure spirit. It meets no biological definition of ‘life’, yet they too exist and have life.

That is why this discussion DOES belong in the realm of Aquinas, and that is why the Church continues to teach a Thomistic understanding of reality, and morality.


#30

Your reference on xenotransplantation is talking mostly about giving the animal (pig in this case) specific genes related to immune reactions to decrease rejection of the pig organ when and if it is transplanted to a human. This is different than what the OP article describes by putting induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) into pig embryos in order to form human organs. In any case, this is from the xenotransplantation reference, Section 11:

In light of a renewed appreciation of the body and of the symbolic understanding of it that much of contemporary anthropology offers, it should be observed that not all organs of the human body are in equal measure an expression of the unrepeatable identity of the person. There are some which exclusively perform their specific function; others, instead, add to their functionality a strong and personal symbolic element which inevitably depends on the subjectivity of the individual; and others still, such as the encephalon [brain] and the gonads, are indissolubly linked with the personal identity of the subject because of their specific function, independently of their symbolic implications.

Also from that reference, Section 20:

The questions and issues related to xenotransplantation have implications of a very wide social character. There is thus an ethical need to acquire correct information on the topics of greatest public interest with regard to the potential benefits and risks. This information should be communicated to as large a segment of the public as possible. Moreover, by means of debates and public discussions in small and large groups, society itself, through its representatives, should help to identify the conditions under which they would find it acceptable to invest resources and hope in this new therapeutic approach, in light of the scientific uncertainties which are still present and the urgent need to increase the availability of organs which can be transplanted.

vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_academies/acdlife/documents/rc_pa_acdlife_doc_20010926_xenotrapianti_en.html .

This research should not be considered a done deal to be automatically accepted. We are talking about the potential of human brain cells mixed in with cells of growing embryos of non-human animals even if the embryos are killed after 28 days. I doubt if Thomas Aquinas himself would look kindly on this research, whatever he said about soul, reason, intellect and rationality. Certainly when we consider what it means to be human on this Earth, our brain cells are high on the list.


#31

I agree with the overall conclusions you express, so I’m using your response as a springboard for further musing.

I still think Thomism is the counterpart to today’s Rationalism, though there’s heated debate about that.

Is the destruction of human embryos the only unethical aspect of some hybridization? I have a great deal of trust in what we will be able to do, or attempt, with science. Maybe I give scientists too much credit, but I don’t see how there couldn’t be successful hybridization attempts. Even if they aren’t human, isn’t it possible for us to create some kind of monstrosity? Maybe I’m too imaginative. I have no problem finding ethical ways to use animals for human betterment, but again, my cautious side is sounding very red alarms here.


#32

You know, I definitely do not have the knowledge to understand this technology but I can say that based on what I have read, I can’t give my support to it. There are just too many questions about the morality of this type of research.


#33

One minute they want to take your life, (abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, brain dead, (removing equipment) and the next they want to go to all kinds of crazy means to keep one alive longer than the body is willing. God Bless, Memaw


#34

Um… this sounds like something out of Frankenstein. I don’t like the sound of it. And it definitely seems like it involves the killing of human embryos.

And wouldn’t the animal if it had a human like brain be protected under the fourteenth amendment? It would essentially become a person, if it becomes a sentient being that could behave in personal ways.


#35

Would you elaborate a bit on that?

Is the destruction of human embryos the only unethical aspect of some hybridization? I have a great deal of trust in what we will be able to do, or attempt, with science. Maybe I give scientists too much credit, but I don’t see how there couldn’t be successful hybridization attempts. Even if they aren’t human, isn’t it possible for us to create some kind of monstrosity? Maybe I’m too imaginative. I have no problem finding ethical ways to use animals for human betterment, but again, my cautious side is sounding very red alarms here.

Scientists have already crossed sheep with goats. With a chimera (combining embryos), you get parts that stay goat and parts that stay sheep (for example, patches of hair and patches of wool).

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheep%E2%80%93goat_chimera .

With a hybrid, a sperm and egg combine which results in an animal that has an average number of chromosomes between sheep and goat with characteristics that are a combination of both. Many of these are stillborn or sterile, but some have reproduced.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheep%E2%80%93goat_hybrid .

There are scientists working on human embryos without regard for their lives. There are scientists that have cloned humans. American scientists do not believe in God in percentages much higher than the general population (from a Pew survey of American scientists):

pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/ .

I think these things should be considered when evaluating our trust in scientists.


#36

If you want to read up more on it, *The Last Superstition *by Ed Feser gives some background about the debate between scholasticism and a more “fideistic” approach to modernity’s quandaries. I’m a bit fuzzy because I read it several years ago, but he convinced me. My bare-bones fuzzy memory is that scholasticism approaches rationalism at the root. Interestingly enough, if I remember correctly, both fideism and rationalism share similar roots; a rejection of the sacramental worldview.

Mules, ligers, etc. Those are much closer than human and cow. (Or were.) Horses and donkeys, and lions and tigers, are still equines and felines. Many of them are sterile, if not all. So, I say, if evolution says such couplings are reproductive dead-ends, why should we combine something as different as a human and a cow? I’m not sure I’m entirely against harvesting organs from animals, even, but there’s a whole realm beyond that I’m very uncomfortable with.


#37

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