Breaking the Species Barrier
By Anne Barbeau Gardiner
Anne Barbeau Gardiner, a Contributing Editor of the NOR, is Professor Emerita of English at John Jay College of the City University of New York. She has published on Dryden, Milton, and Swift, as well as on Catholics of the seventeenth century.
Chimera’s Children: Ethical, Philosophical and Religious Perspectives on Human-Nonhuman Experimentation. Edited by David Albert Jones and Calum MacKellar. Continuum Books. 240 pages. $32.95.
In this groundbreaking and deeply disturbing book, David Albert Jones of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Oxford and Calum Mac Kellar of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics discuss the recent and ongoing experiments in embryonic and fetal interspecies combinations. Their fundamental question is this: Is it “inherently unethical deliberately to create such entities”? Now adays, all sorts of human-nonhuman chimeras and hybrids are being created with no substantial public debate about the ethics of these experiments. Bioethicists charged with overseeing and directing such projects are enthusiasts unwilling to give anything but a green light. We are witnessing, as neurologist William Hurlbut said in 2011, a “slow but steady drift towards treating all of living nature (including human nature) as mere matter and information to be reshuffled and reassigned for projects of the human will.”
Once again, major decisions about the future of society are being made by secular elites who speak and act as if God did not exist, but who usurp His divine power and wield it over the rest of us. They are willing to sacrifice countless human embryos in biotech experiments while loudly declaring their compassion and promising cures for those with neurological diseases. They are breaking the species barrier between animals and man in order to support the foundational doctrine of Darwinism that human beings are not special and have no inherent dignity but differ only in degree from other animals. In the end they hope to create a “humanzee” — a hybrid man and chimpanzee — as proof of evolution. And then, with this accomplishment in the books, they will demand that society judge their creation’s “humanity or moral worth.”
Jones and MacKellar begin by defining the key terms of the new science. A hybridconsists of an ovum (human or nonhuman) fertilized with the sperm of another species, and a cybrid consists of an ovum (human or nonhuman) stripped of its chromosomes and given a nucleus from another species. Hybrids and cybrids both combine genes from different species at the cellular or subcellular level. Achimera is an embryonic, fetal, or post-natal combination of human and nonhuman. There are three ways to create chimeras: in the first, cells from different species are combined in an early embryo; in the second, these cells are combined at a later stage; in the third, human stem cells are injected into a normal nonhuman animal embryo, which is then put into the womb of an animal to develop until birth. The earlier the chimera begins, “the deeper the degree of integration.”
In his Essay on Man, Catholic poet Alexander Pope attributes this sort of recklessness to “reasoning pride” and warns that whoever wants “to invert the laws / Of order, sins against th’ eternal cause.” Nowadays, inverting the laws of order is business-as-usual in the laboratories of the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, Japan, China, and South Korea. Between 2001 and 2006 a host of chimeras were produced by injecting human stem cells into animal fetuses halfway through gestation — when their bodies were already formed, so as to ensure that the resulting chimeras would look like normal animals. Among these were sheep-human, monkey-human, pig-human, rat-human, goat-human, and chicken-human combinations. Jones and MacKellar make this astute comment about such experiments: “Just as bestiality is inhuman and a travesty of human sexual union, so deliberately creating a half-human, half-nonhuman creature is a travesty of human procreation.”
A century ago there was already a quest to produce a “humanzee.” In 1908 Dutch biologist M.B. Moens, urged on by the Darwinist E. Haeckel, went to Africa to try to cross an African with a chimpanzee. Next, in 1918, the German sexologist H. Rohleder traveled to Tenarife to try to cross a non-European with an ape. Then, in the 1920s, Stalin sent Ilya Ivanov to French West Africa on a quest for the “invincible” ape-human, a hybrid that could serve as a weapon against the Christian doctrine of creation. These racist experiments were designed to interbreed the highest primates with what were called the “most primitive of the human race.” Today, far more sophisticated experiments are conducted with a similar goal: to produce human-nonhuman hybrids and chimeras to demonstrate that the boundary between man and animal is permeable.