CHIMERAS: BEYOND THE PLANET OF THE APES
I have to admit I love living in the present that sometimes dazzles me more than most approximations I have read in Science fiction novels. As I have said from the beginning of the year the truth is not enough. You can’t just say you have the truth, you must go beyond the truth to find the absolutes and in the process understand that all of the beliefs we cling to will disappear in a second with every new discovery that is made.
After I had lunch I decided to go for an afternoon coffee and as I was sipping it I noticed a headline from the local paper, the Oregonian. In my city a breakthrough took place. The faces of three little monkeys looked back at me. One was named Hex, the other was Chimero and the third was called Roku. The headline read “Lab brings Chimera Myth To Life.”
The breakthrough was that scientists in Oregon created these monkeys in a lab out of cells from multiple embryos, not only were the monkey’s clones, they were clones made from cells of other monkey and the most important part is that the monkeys are fit and healthy after being alive since the summer.
The whole process gave me reason to pause because of the words that were stern from former president George W. Bush that stated that this type of research steps over a line. He of course is referring to the moral line of what most religious people would call “playing God.”
I have to admit that I was a little angry over the statements Bush made in his 2006 state of the union address because this type of research would benefit me because I have a genetic defect. I have Tuberous Sclerosis, a genetic disorder that is considered a mutation. There is no specific treatment for tuberous sclerosis. Because the disease can differ from person to person, treatment is based on the symptoms. Some people can have severe symptoms like seizures, while people like me suffer from tumor growth that can affect vital organs.
This mutation contributed to my mutant form of cancer that I had n both kidneys. It contributed with my inability to live a normal existence – however I have accepted My condition and have found ways to live happy and normally – some people are not so lucky. In the meantime cures or ways to curtail this mutation could be realized if they lifted the stigma, However Bush still demanded that
Congress “pass legislation to prohibit what he called “the most egregious abuses of medical research which included creating human-animal hybrids, because “human life is a gift from our Creator that should never be “devalued.”
For the longest time I had wondered if human chimeras could be made and discovered that there had been attempts in the past to create super soldiers using cells from animals to make hybrids. I realized that what I was seeing and reading about sounded very much like what was written when H.G. Welles admonished us in the book “The island of Dr. Moureau.”
However there was a breakthrough that was somehow confusing especially coming from the catholic fathers.
In response to the possibility of the creation and destruction of human chimeric embryos in the United Kingdom, Britain’s Catholic Bishops stated during the apex of the controversy that if Chimeras are ever created, chimeric embryos should be allowed to live. I am curious if the bishops were not convinced that they would ever be created and so they made the statement. Now as we see Chimera’s are in existence and while we do not see the human monkey DNA intermingling anytime soon this may open the door to other tests because now it has been proven that these Chimeras can function.
Chimeras come from Greek mythology. They were more or less dragons that have the body parts of several animals. Homer’s brief description in the Iliad is the earliest surviving literary reference: “a thing of immortal make, not human, lion-fronted and dragon hindquarters, a goat in the middle and snorting out the breath of the terrible flame of bright fire.
The reason the chimera was depicted as a deformed monster is because it violates a perceived “natural order” in which each animal including humans are divinely created as a separate and unique species . back ten it is seen as a violation of nature was so bizarre that religion and science assumed it couldn’t possibly exist. So the word chimera has become a metaphor for a hypothetical being.
Now it is no longer imaginary.
Now the hideous mythical dragon is now the personage of three perfect monkeys that have been created in a lab.
Are these monkeys going to be accepted by people who hold steadfastly to traditional beliefs that limit scientific progress? Does this type of science bother you because we have now
shown that we can create in a lab a monkey from cells of other monkeys?
Is this the ultimate irreverence? The heretical tampering with creation? Where is it that you draw the line?
I don’t think people would have a problem with human hearts being grown inside pigs after all, if it saved the life of a loved one we may put our prejudice aside. What if they were to find a way to cure Alzheimer’s disease by taking neurons and placing them into the brains of mice or monkeys? Are those firing neurons really the human soul? This is where we must stop time for a moment and ask ourselves where are we now? Who are we really? Were we created at random? Are we quantum echoes that somehow exist like ghosts on a magnetic matrix? Are we some miraculous creation of god or are we a creation that has been forgotten by a god that didn’t have the decency to tell us his name or even give us direction? Is the consciousness or soul that we all claim to possess just the illusory byproduct of synaptic activity in our brain?
When scientists begin to chimeratize the essential features of mentality that distinguish us as human beings and place them into other bodies animal or human in order to save that mentality from dying will we accept it or reject it because of traditional fears?
If they injected a mouse with all of these mental building blocks and it demonstrated its ability to communicate and do simple human function, would we have to kill it? Or would we be forced to keep it alive because it is a human being.
We now have to consider these questions and quite possibly erase that line between what we consider animal. We may have to stop your typical monkey on the street and ask it if it is human. .