The Man on the Moon
Genetics has been not only the most superheated scientific arena of the past decade, it has also been a feverish battlefield for American bioethics. And no area has elicited as much controversy as the speculative prospect of genetic engineering—the subject of this and the next chapter.1 We cannot know what human life will be like a thousand years from now, but we can and should think seriously about what we would like it to be like. What is unique about human beings and about being human; what makes humans human? What qualities of the human species must we preserve to preserve humanity itself? What would a “better human” be like? If genetic engineering techniques work, are there human qualities we should try to temper and others we should try to enhance? If human rights and human dignity depend on our human nature, can we change our “humanness” without undermining our dignity and our rights? At the outset of the third millennium, we can begin our exploration of these questions by looking back on some of the major events and themes of the past 1000 years in Western civilization and the primitive human instincts they illustrate.