Genetic Engineering — The New Religion?

I recently read an article in The New York Times with a title something like “DNA Sequencing, Two Billion Bits of Me, Me, Me!” That suggested more than just research into what makes a human being.

We live on a small planet holding over six billion human beings, and that planet is located in a universe that, so far as we can determine, holds something like fifty billion galaxies, each with between fifty and a hundred billion stars and their solar systems. Yet each of us wants to believe that we are not only unique, but special, and we want to affirm in some way that we are not so insignificant as the numbers above might indicate. For that reason, we as humans have continually sought ways to prove our worth, both to ourselves and to the world at large.

Religion has certainly been one of those ways, as has a striving for some form of world-changing accomplishment. But when one comes right down to it, there’s only room for a handful of world-changers such as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon, or geniuses such as Einstein, Newton, Mozart, Edison, and Fermi, or even fortune-building entrepreneurs such as J.P Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, or Bill Gates. But heretofore anyone could theoretically believe in a god and a faith that promised some form of immortality. Except now… even religion is under attack.

I have no doubts that religion will remain as a bulwark against personal universal insignificance for billions of humans, but for those for whom the billions upon billions of stars in the sky suggest that religion will not provide any security against personal oblivion and meaninglessness, I suggest that genetic engineering is the new faith. Just think, there’s the possibility of endless clones of one’s self, or more modestly, the possibility of ensuring that one’s best traits are passed on to offspring — not only one’s own, but to others desirous of having children with special traits and brilliance, for do we not all have such brilliance?

Even now, services are offering clones of favorite pets and, in the process, giving their owners a sense of power over a cruel universe. How long will it be before we can pass “ourselves” on to an identical clone and thus not have to rely on an uncertain deity for continued existence?

But then, isn’t that just another kind of faith? And faith is religion in another guise, isn’t it?