Healthy and upgraded babies from the lab may soon be commonplace.
Science is developing in leaps and bounds, and in particular genetic technology is upon us, giving parents-to-be the option to modify their unborn child. Such an intervention could be to correct a genetic disease, or to make a child more intelligent, or taller – the possibilities are many.
Experts in the United States are still debating whether prenatal engineering should be banned while it has already been done in an unknown number of cases. A baby recently born in England had been rid in its embryonic stage of a gene linked with a certain cancer. Paul Serhal, medical director of the assisted conception unit at University College Hospital, London, stated, “This little girl will not face the spectre of developing this genetic form of breast cancer or ovarian cancer in her adult life.” And this was not the first case.
Animals and crops are already routinely genetically modified; however, Shelden Krimsky, a philosopher at Tufts University, Boston, who argued in favor of a ban on the same for human babies said, “But in the hundreds of thousands of trails that failed, we simply discarded the results of the unwanted crop or animal.” He further asked if this is a model that society wants to apply to humans, making pinpoint genetic modifications, only to “discard the results when they don’t work out?” He added that assuming no mistakes will occur would be sheer hubris.
in the beginning.”
Some ethicists are concerned that designer babies are being created based on gender, IQ, or even athletic ability. Richard Hayes, executive director of the California-based Center for Genetics and Society said about the technologies, “If misapplied, [they] would exacerbate existing inequalities and reinforce existing modes of discrimination … the development and commercial marketing of human genetic modification would likely spark a techno-eugenic rat-race. Even parents opposed to manipulating their children’s genes would feel compelled to participate in this race, lest their offspring be left behind.”
The polar opposite argument is made by Dartmouth College ethics professor Ronald M. Green, who envisions a nearly disease-free future in which the information gleaned from reprogenetics allows genes to be tweaked, producing healthier humans without discarding embryos. “Why not improve our genome?” Green asks.
Last year, the journal Nature predicted that within 30 years artificial wombs and experiments on human embryos grown in the lab will be commonplace. With embryos grown in labs, mutations could be corrected and improvements could be engineered.
Osho favors science and test tube babies, reminding us that “everything new looks inhuman in the beginning.”
Q: I was very shocked at hearing you support the production of test-tube babies, saying they could be geniuses, more beautiful and healthier than human beings. Surely the beauty of our inner being is all that matters? – or were you joking?
No. Very rarely I am serious, and at the time I made that statement I was very serious. I mean it – because the man that has been created by blind nature, blind biology, has not proved a real growth for humanity. You can see it.
Charles Darwin says that monkeys became man. But, since that time – that must have happened a million years ago – for these one million years man has not created anything better. Monkeys were far more intelligent; at least they gave birth to humanity. Human beings seem to be absolutely impotent. They go on creating carbon copies of themselves. This has to be stopped.
I have heard… it happened in an office. The orders from above came that the office is too cluttered with old files – thirty years, fifty years old – they should be destroyed. But make sure that every file’s carbon copy is kept…. But what is the point? Why destroy the originals?
Man has been meeting with woman accidentally up to now. Hence, you feel shocked – anybody will feel shocked, I can understand – to think that a baby should not have the mother’s womb, the warmth of the mother, the care of the mother, the love of the mother…. But, you know, there are many other things also in the mother: her nagging, her hatred, her jealousy, her stupidity. He will get all those things too.
And we can see, the specimens are available all over the world. This is what has come out of your relationship: Adolf Hitler is born out of your human relationship, he was in a mother’s womb. Joseph Stalin is born in the same way. And all these criminals – Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Mussolini, Mao Tse Tung, Nadir Shah, Tamerlane, Genghis Khan – history is full of these monsters. They have also come out of loving women.
I don’t trust any more in blind biology. I trust more in a conscious human being. It is better to give the birth of the child to a test tube, where we can choose the best semen, the best egg from the woman. And there is no need to be worried because they are anonymous; in fact, every hospital should have a bank. They have banks for blood; they should have banks for semen and eggs, and they should look into the best semen cell and the best egg meeting in a very clinical way – in a test tube. They will not have the heritage of your ugly past. They will be fresh beings and we can program those eggs and the semen cells so that more health, more life, more intelligence becomes possible.
In each love affair the man releases millions of living cells. Only one of them will reach the female egg; he will become Ronald Reagan. They all rush – it is really a great rush…. Millions of living beings, although they are very small and you cannot see them with your eyes – and it is a big race, bigger than any race that happens on the earth.
Thinking of their size, the track between the semen and the woman’s egg proportionately is two miles long. If they were your size, the track would be two miles long. A two-mile track… and they are fighting hard to survive, because there is not much time. They are always close to the third world war. They can live only two hours, not more than that. And only one cell reaches the egg and the egg closes. It rarely happens that two cells reach simultaneously, that’s why twins are born.
Rabindranath Tagore, one of the great poets of India, was the thirteenth child of his father. The other twelve proved just idiots, nobody knows their names even. Now, it is a long blind passage. If Rabindranath’s father had stopped after the twelfth child – which seems to be a good point to stop; one dozen is enough, more than enough – then you would have missed one of the most beautiful beings on the earth: a great poet, a great painter and a great human being… in every way beautiful.
But in a test tube it is so easy. Those twelve should have been discarded. We have chosen Rabindranath to be the first child – and who knows how much more potential would have been in him if he had gotten the best female egg. Nobody knows.
We don’t know the potentiality of humanity. Give it a chance. What I am saying is, give it a chance. It looks in the beginning inhuman. Everything new looks inhuman in the beginning.
Do you know, when the first railway train moved from London to a nearby station, just eight miles’ journey, nobody was ready to sit in it… even for free. Lunch was served, free, but nobody was ready to enter the train because the priest in the early morning said in church that God never created any railway train; this is unnatural, this is dangerous, this is inhuman. Don’t sit in it.
What do you think would have happened if people had stopped? There would have been no trains, no cars, no airplanes, no rockets to reach to the moon, and we have to reach to the stars. We need more stronger bodies, we need more intelligent people, and we need people who are clean of all old crap. That is possible only if we make a clinical, medical arrangement for the birth of man. I am absolutely in support of it.
Osho, The Last Testament, Vol. 1, Ch 3 (Excerpt)