If your computer seems unusually warm today it could because a firestorm of ethical signficance has erupted over at The Atlantic website.
As reported by Leo Hickman at The Guardian, charges of "eugenics" and warnings of Nazi tyranny are flying against three scientists who, in an interview at The Atlantic, suggested that human bioengineering might be a way of getting on top of the climate change crisis.
The authors suggested several ways of reprogramming or controlling human behavior that would have undoubted positive effects on the climate control problem. Within the worldview framed by materialism, pragmatism, technology, and utilitarianism, their suggestions - and they're only suggestions - make perfectly good sense.
What doesn't make sense are the outraged responses by bloggers who, undoubtedly sharing while, at the same time, denying those same framework assumptions, at least for the moment - railed at the authors for even considering such a course of action.
But considering such a course of action seems perfectly logical to me - within the aforementioned framework. When will power and persuasion are not enough to enlist people in a global effort to save the planet, what else can you do? Enlist a few volunteers, try out a few procedures, measure the positive impacts, then proceed from there.
It's not inconceivable that, a generation or so hence, school children who are now by law required to have certain vaccinations, could then be required by law to take a pill that makes meat unpallatable to them, or to have a procedure that allows them to see better in the dark (thus lessening the need for electric lights), and who knows what else.
Why are we even thinking about this? Two reasons: First, scientists think in terms of what's possible, given what we know and what the technology might be able to do. Ethical questions come later, if at all. Second, environmental scientists and others are beginning to despair of people's ability - or willingness - to control their appetite for carbon-producing goods, services, and technologies, and little that science has produced thus far has managed to persuade people - Americans, mainly - to adopt a different approach.
Can you see where this is headed? Start with the argumentum ad absurdum: if we aren't willing or can't be persuaded to control our carbon-producing behavior, we may just have to start engineering a different kind of human being. Followed by outrage all around. Then the backdown: OK, if people aren't willing to be persuaded, perhaps we could make laws to force them to change their ways.
Enter Solyndra et al.
This situation is shot through with ethical questions related to stewardship of the earth, the nature of human beings, the role of government, and the validity of our getting-and-spending way of life.
People are talking about this stuff, and the argument is designed to head toward government regulations and controls.
But is that the best or only solution? Does the Christian worldview offer any different counsel? Or any alternative trajectory?
Certainly not if Christians fail to engage this conversation in a timely and intelligent manner.