Why Do We Keep Messing With Nature?

I would like to submit a hypothetical question: Why do we keep messing with nature, with genetics, it will inevitably be our downfall, won’t it? Surely, altering nature to suit our needs is a slippery slope?

While there is a great potential for disaster, I don’t believe that it will be our destruction. Instead, it will only lead to continuing chapters in our evolutionary history, and is likely the necessary method of adaptation to any challenges we create for ourselves. Mankind has been messing with Nature since he discovered fire.

The vegetables we eat today are barely distinguishable from the plants they were thousands of years ago. The commonly eaten mammals were all bred into modern existence by mankind; pigs, cows, and chickens bear little resemblance to their ancestors. Man’s best friend, the dog, credited in some anthropological circles for the rise of civilization, has been individually bred for distinct human purposes for thousands of years.

Every time a person visits a hospital to be cured of a life threatening illness, mankind potentially weakens the genetic stock of the human race. Modern medicine has practically removed natural selection from the human equation. Would we regress and dictate that no one be allowed access to that level of medicine, technology, and science?

Of course not, that is not human nature, and never will be. It will be genetic engineering that allows humanity to evolve healthfully while existing outside of such an elegant, though at times brutally harsh, natural process that has its basis in the survival of the fittest, and which has guided evolution from the beginning.

Scientific discovery and development has historically been greeted with skepticism and mistrust. The thought of a spherical Earth, or the orbit of planets around the sun was once, in European culture, seen as absurd. The idea that human blood could contain harmful organisms that could not be seen by the unaided eye was once ridiculous – sickness was due to evil spirits, or man’s shortcomings of faith in gods. “The internet? That’ll never catch on!”

It is the responsibility of science to advance through its “awkward stages”, and progress to a level whereby it can address the ill effects that it has caused during its early developmental period.

Let’s have a look at the damage caused to our environment by the internal combustion engine as an example. Direct pollution is just a small part of the equation, you must also take into account the following development of heavy industry, the spread of humanity to all corners of the planet, the increased reduction of natural lands in favor of production of crops and then livestock as it feeds on those crops, the resultant ballooning human population which demands increased production of protein sources and consumes ever more resources, and in turn fosters further detrimental population growth, which consumes currently far more resources than this planet can replenish…

It is an endless cycle of blind progress that very well could be the death of civilization as we know it.

I could go on and on, but since humanity will never willingly regress (nor should it), the only thing that will solve these problems is further scientific advancement, coupled with – and this is the most important aspect of the equation – wisdom. And therein lies the root of the problem and our fears: humanity has directed a minimum of its focus toward social, cultural, and political wisdom.

Self-determination and philosophical thought are not encouraged in a capitalist world society that is controlled by 0.001% of the population; it would be counter to power and profit, and what has been taught as the positive nature of progress for so long.

Do not misunderstand, when I speak of wisdom, I do not speak of the narrow minded control and power issues that many overly “moral” religious leaders, and most current political leaders have with some scientific developments (genetics and cloning being prime examples today).

I speak of a deeper wisdom that should be taught to all children as they grow, a wisdom that will encourage free thought while stressing world community as a core responsibility.

I speak of the wisdom to welcome and understand another’s point of view, and the wisdom to apply scientific advancements for the benefit of all living things on this planet while looking far into the future, rather than simply toward the next paycheck or stock dividend, or toward an early retirement.

I speak of the wisdom of always wondering and searching for the answers to, “What is…?”, and, “What if…?”, while always having each other, and a better future for all life in mind.

It is here I will end, as I began, with two hypothetical questions for thought. If you could undergo a treatment during which your genes would be permanently altered to leave you highly resistant to all forms of illness and disease – and these traits would be passed to your children – would you welcome it? How would you feel if such treatments were simple and commonplace, but only for those who earned a requisite amount of income per year, or who were possessed of a certain social standing?

~ David Jay Spyker

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