RESURRECTING ANCIENT ANTIBIOTICS…AND EVENTUALLY MORE?November 4, 2011
As few days ago I blogged about the effort of geneticists to resurrect the black plague and study its evolution. Well, as there so often is in science, a flip side to the story:
What interests me here is the potential not only to resurrect ancient diseases, but also ancient cures or evolutionary responses. Indeed, we are witnessing before our very eyes the god-like ability to literally travel back in time through the most effective record and memory of evolution: DNA itself.
Note the key word here, for it is a word near and dear, not so much to theologians and religious people, but to the transhumanist alchemists of modern "futurology," the "science" of speculation about the future changes that science and technology will bring about. We are witnessing the ability of scientists to resurrect organisms - albeit on only a small scale - and literally bring them back to life for study.
We can imagine, from here, a variety of futures, and indeed, the transhumanists do: resurrecting "people" by cloning them and then "downloading" someone else's memories (when the computing-neural-net interface is perfected, and I've blogged about that before here too). Nor are we talking about a "spiritual phenomenon" but about actual "bodily" resurrection, to quote the Anglican Thirty-Nine articles here(somewhat out of context), "with flesh, bones, and all things apertaining thereunto."
We can therefore also imagine some Victor Frankenstein in some laboratory, wanting to "resurrect" a "hero"... or we can imagine some Josef Mengele, wanting to resurrect "heroes" of a different sort. We already know all too well of the current genetic madness to create Frankenfoods and chimerical creatures of mingled DNA...mice or pigs with human blood, plants spliced together with genetic shotguns.
The long and short of it is, we are entering a new era, one where technological possibilities are opening up scientifically-based fulfillments of ancient religious and mythological images, and that means stories like this are not going to go away, they will increase, exponentially both in the number of such cases and in the scale at which technology is able to "resurrect" life. All the more reason we need to take the lessons of those ancient myths and texts very seriously.