Would it be immoral to re-introduce extinct species of animals?

Hey everyone. I am watching a video from Russia Today at the moment about the possibility of re-introducing extinct species of animals. Basically they would use science to bring extinct species of animals back to life. From what I understand, they would not be genetically identical to the extinct species though. I’m not sure if my terminology is right or not. But anyway, would it be immoral to do this? After all, it could have a lot of drastic impacts on our ecosystem.

youtube.com/watch?v=DHFi6Bk1ihI

I think the attempt to do so is immoral in itself. So my basic answer is yes.

I imagine they plan doing this by introducing “extinct” genetic materials into the animal species via invitro fertilization and the use of viruses. (The seems the simplest possibility.) Messing around with viruses and genetic material is dangerous. And in other attempts by science to alter existing animal/plant life there has been significant trouble. For example: Killer Bees or “Frost resistant strawberries.”

It sounds like dangerous ground to me, and I would certainly not want to be part of it.

I can’t see why that should be immoral, as long as we don’t mess around with human DNA. We could start with some species that we humans drove to extinctions, for example the moa here in New Zealand. If we have their DNA in reasonably complete form, it will be feasible fairly soon.

It must not be done just because it is possible. And I would stay clear from really big things like mammoth, or other animals which will wreck the ecosystem.

Good question, I look forward to some good discussions

As long as human DNA is not involved, there would be nothing at all wrong with it.

DNA as such is not sacrosanct.

ICXC NIKA

Because we can do a thing in no way means we should.

Let’s leave the introduction of species to God.

We are talking about things which went extinct.

Yes, I understand this clearly; however, they are no longer here and would be introduced to the modern world. That’s Gods job, not ours. Bad things happen when we try to play God.

Giant Pandas (fotr example) would probably be extinct by now if we humans hadn’t made a concerted effort to ensure they survive. I think we meddle too much, quite honestly. Of course, it’s often human actions (destruction of habitat) which cause problems for animals.

Let’s look at one example only: When the Maoris arrived in New Zealand (a few hundred years before the first Europeans) they chased and killed some large birds they found here, the moas. Moas couldn’t fly (there were no mammals here as predators) and eventually they went extinct.

Do you think God wanted the moa to become extinct, or the the dodo in Mauritius? There will be hundreds of animals becoming extinct over the next few decades. Often there is nothing we can do about it, or we only learn about it if it’s too late. I think it’s great that we have the technology to be able to get some back again.

I don’t think it is immoral to re-introduce them.
They would probably meet each other anyway.
:smiley:

Maybe DNA should be “sacrosanct.” ??? It is unwise to mess with any of it. There are simply too many things that can go wrong when we start playing “God.” As a past genetics student (my first degree) I can see nothing really good coming out of this. I really doubt those who are trying this really know what could result.

They may have ideas of what may happen, but I am sure there will be unexpected consequences that could certainly be more harmful than good. And I can’t help but think they would be more than willing to impose this experiment on humans. Additionally, know one needs to fool themselves into thinking the US wouldn’t be participating in something like this all in the name of science.

And I still say go ahead.

Treating nature as sacred just because it is nature is the first step to nature worship.

IMNAAHO.

ICXC NIKA

This is interesting to me, because it is amazingly cool to be able to do this type of stuff, but also it does bring into question morality. For instance bringing back a T Rex that humans were not even around for is problematic. Woolly Mammoth, perhaps is a little different. Plant life is also not as cut and dry as an issue. The introduction of a “new” species to an ecosystem can have effects that we cannot even calculate. (think of the dandelions in your yard.) I think selling the idea is more palatable if it is a species that humans caused to go extinct. Theologically I think we have no business in resurrecting creation God has deemed past. (Like Dinosaurs)
My wife works in GM plant science. So this is actually something that we know about.

My overall view about it is that it is immoral.

But sometimes you do mess around with human DNA. GM foods can change or modify your own DNA. And the DNA of an entire ecosystem can be affected. Including humans, if some sort of velociraptor decided to eat a 20 year old scientist. The larger DNA pool (human) has potentially been affected.

Also, it is not “big” things that wreck ecosystems. Sometimes little things have a huge impact. “Cheat grass” Invasive species of bacteria and muscles have been known to create HUGE ecology changes.
The simple introduction of a fish into a pond can have catastrophic effects on entire ecosystems and animals.

Yes, but depending on the timeline they would be reintroduced into a time and place that had changed. Evolution continues. And ecosystems change with time. So in a way, you are introducing a new species to earth.

So your moral line is if humans caused the extinction? That is dicey if you ask me. Perhaps the sin of making an animal go extinct is not remedied by the potential danger of bringing it back.

Your wife works in GM plant science, but you seem to question the morality. Why?

Somebody mentioned the Giant Panda, or another example is the Koala. Everybody loves them and they are well looked after. But let’s say they get wiped out by a new virus they can’t adapt to quickly enough. Do you think that God wanted them to become extinct? That it would be immoral to get them back?

Basis for ethics and morality in science is not that something is cute and people like them. It is something that cannot be judged by the way current society sees an issue. If we can recreate life that in God’s plan has been phased out then we are getting into very muddy waters. Just so I am clear, you are only talking about species that humans caused to go extinct? How would you regulate that based on only that sole moral principle? Look at it this way. A woman sterilizes herself early in life. Later, she wants to have babies and she finds that with a reversal of her sterilization (moral) and IVF (immoral) she can have babies. The IVF does not become ok because it can rectify a previous wrong. So, we must be careful in saying that if we caused a species to go extinct that we can morally bring it back. Things have been going extinct for millions of years. And only bringing stuff back because of what “we” deem worthy is acting in place of God. Would you argue to bring back bacteria that resulted in deaths of people? No, but yet it is a life form, part of creation history and part of the author of life itself. To me, morally, the only way you can argue the morality of bringing back extinct species is to say "God wills us to develop the technology for this purpose.

While this issue is fun to play with, I caution that there is no such thing as a biological time machine. DNA, and the ecology, and evolution are not static and introducing a non linear change to an ecosystem can have dire consequences. Even if it is for a cute little panda cub.

long story.

Morality of GMO is another thread…

I don’t know, what God wanted, and that is the problem here, neither do you. Did God want the K/T event to eliminate 90 percent of life on earth? Or any other countless extinction? Even before humans? Some of those events were even caused by other animals or plants. So we don’t really know what happened there. Scientifically speaking.

This is one of the unforeseen consequences of trying to have the best of both worlds as modern theology has done with creation science. If you believe in evolution, and the history of life on our planet, then you must have certain problems with genesis. Not the obvious ones but rather, before the fall of man, how was the idea of extinctions and Gods will reconcilable?

It is a quandary.

Is it moral to bring back an extinct pest? A prehistoric rat? A super sized prehistoric shark? Why does the usefulness of cuddle factor make a difference in the morality. (because I guarantee you it does and it shouldn’t.)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.