Of Mice and Men (and Other Chimeras):
Biotechnology and Animal-Human Hybrids

General Bioethics — By on January 28, 2005 at 12:46 am

The French writer Vercors begins his novel,



  • http://grandpajohn.blogspot.com/ Steve of G.J.’s

    Mice with human brains? There are already plenty of rats with the same condition.
    Mice will revolt! They are still complaining about “Of Mice and Men”.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Actual if you read the article carefully the mice were created with brains that were 1% human (I believe they mean brain cells that are human brain cells) and a researcher wants to make a mouse with 100% human brain cells.
    Since Joe isn’t a naturalist he shouldn’t be troubled. After all, such a mouse wouldn’t be a human trapped in a mouse’s body..right? To argue so would be to imply that only material elements make up a human.

  • Larry Lord

    Boonton raises an interesting point.
    Of course, as far as I’m concerned, a human brain with cognitive human functioning existing in a freely living body –whatever type of animal body it is — is certainly more of a human being than a human embryo.
    So I oppose the research that Dr. Weissman wishes to perform.
    I guess the question for Christians is: where does the soul reside?

  • Larry Lord

    Just to be clear — I do mean that we should be more concerned about experimenting on “mice-men” with human cognitive functions than we should with experimenting on human embryos (which lack brains).

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    In a previous post I mentioned that I thought the discovery of intelligent alien life would produce a paradign crises among many Christian thinkers. Would such creatures be considered ‘human’ in the sense of having a soul or would they be viewed as intelligent but soulless animals? Or would they be viewed as demons of satan meant to trick us?
    Sci-fi has looked at a similar issue in terms of robots. At what point would you consider a robot a human beign? If your answer is never then what if the ‘robot’ was built atom by atom in the exact form of a human so that it was impossible to tell its origin wasn’t biological?
    If you insist that only humans can have souls and no amount of genius by human robot makers could make a robot with a soul then where’s the issue really with chimeras? It would seem like the crises revolves around the fact that most people associate soul with our personality. Most people would be deeply troubled by being told ‘Joe’ has no soul even though his personality seems every bit real as their own.
    This opens up a number of really interesting questions. Do all humans really have souls? How do we know for sure? Could a creature be ‘intelligent’ but not have a soul? If not would we be obligated to treat him with the respect we demand for other humans? If not how could we seperate creatures with soul from those without?

  • http://pseudopolymath.blogspot.com/ Mark O

    Boonton,
    You made the claim previously that the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligent life would produce a paradigm crisis for Christians. Do you have any basis for this claim, or are you, as a Christian, implying you would have a crisis? I fail to see what sort of crisis might occur.

  • Larry Lord

    Boonton
    “n a previous post I mentioned that I thought the discovery of intelligent alien life would produce a paradign crises among many Christian thinkers. Would such creatures be considered ‘human’ in the sense of having a soul or would they be viewed as intelligent but soulless animals? Or would they be viewed as demons of satan meant to trick us?”
    There is an excellent science fiction book on this subject by James Blish entitled “A Case of Conscience.”
    In that book, the alien life form (who becomes a very popular celebrity) is in fact determined to be satanic and his home planet is exorcised by the Jesuit priest who brought him to earth.
    Similar themes are addressed in two books which continue the thematic trilogy: “Black Easter” (in which Hell rises on earth in Death Valley and is attacked by the US military) and “Day After Judgment”.
    Good stuff.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Well every time I mentioned this I stated what I thought would cause the crises (which BTW, doesn’t mean the destruction of Christianity) so I’m not sure where you are havign difficulty.

  • Septeus7

    Quote from Looney Larry: Of course, as far as I’m concerned, a human brain with cognitive human functioning existing in a freely living body –whatever type of animal body it is — is certainly more of a human being than a human embryo.
    So I oppose the research that Dr. Weissman wishes to perform.
    Ah…we don’t know if such cognitive ability would necessarily result from a 100% human brain and given the trial and error inherent to the process of experimentation it is unlikely that the first chimeras would have such abilities to any measurable degree. It is more likely that IQ of the mouse would simple rise from that of a mouse to that of a pig. Therefore, Weissmann would argue that to deny the vast potential of this research that could save many human lives and end much suffering is nothing more than imposing a quasi-religious morality on science through what stands as mere speculation regarding the functional value of such chimeras. In short, he would use the same arguement you use to defend ESCR.
    Quote: whatever type of animal body it is — is certainly more of a human being than a human embryo.
    Ah….so Chimeras are more “Human than Human” on the basis of subjective interpetation of functionality?
    So I guess something can be judged to be more human regardless of the biological body as something processing a human body as an embryo does isn’t enough to be considered “human” anymore? Interesting.
    The question of whose standard of functionality will quickly become a matter legal debate and the government will set minimal require of social functionality that people will have comform to or else they are less than “human” (thus not entitled to rights or protects by nature). In short, the logical consequence of the functional view of human identity lends to government deciding who is valuable and who is not. Thus idea the of “created equal” and therefore just representation goes by the way. In the end, raw power is sole determiner of functionality. Might makes it right.
    We know this to be the creed of the Left.
    I can’t wait for when the AI networks 50 years from now do for Larry as they will certainly be more functional than mere “humans.”
    Also, I can’t wait till Larry and his friends to join the coming “Chimeras and Humans Together Sexual Liberation Front.’ “Why can’t I marry my Mouse!” “Its discrimation!” The absurdity of the Left knows no bounds.
    Quote: Since Joe isn’t a naturalist he shouldn’t be troubled. After all, such a mouse wouldn’t be a human trapped in a mouse’s body..right? To argue so would be to imply that only material elements make up a human.
    Nonsequitor. Being a supernatural doesn’t mean that the material doesn’t hold value. The problem is the fussion of the “kinds” which are to reproduce each according to its kind. Naturally, this “kinds” concept would make no sense for a Darwinist since everything is of common descent.
    Quote: In a previous post I mentioned that I thought the discovery of intelligent alien life would produce a paradign crises among many Christian thinkers. Would such creatures be considered ‘human’ in the sense of having a soul or would they be viewed as intelligent but soulless animals? Or would they be viewed as demons of satan meant to trick us?
    Oh we stupid Christians have never considered the possibility of this before….read from Christian “thinkers” before you make such assinine statements. There is no such thing as soulless animals unless you are talking about corpses.

  • Larry Lord

    SepticTank writes
    “Therefore, Weissmann would argue that to deny the vast potential of this research that could save many human lives and end much suffering is nothing more than imposing a quasi-religious morality on science through what stands as mere speculation regarding the functional value of such chimeras. In short, he would use the same arguement you use to defend ESCR.”
    No. Embyronic stem cells have ZERO cognitive ability and never will. It’s called “no brain whatsoever.”
    Weissman is explicit about seeking human cognition in his manimals.
    So, the arguments are not the same. That was pretty obvious but it’s fun to show people how desperate you are.
    “Ah….so Chimeras are more “Human than Human” on the basis of subjective interpetation of functionality?”
    No. Chimeras with brains that show human cognition are more human than cells without brains. Again, this is straightforward. You put your words in my mouth. I just took them out. Please don’t do it again.
    “The question of whose standard of functionality will quickly become a matter legal debate and the government will set minimal require of social functionality that people will have comform to or else they are less than “human” (thus not entitled to rights or protects by nature).”
    Everyone on the right and left agrees that it’s okay to terminate life functions of “brain dead” humans.
    “Being a supernatural doesn’t mean that the material doesn’t hold value.”
    That must be some nice crack you’re smoking. Perhaps if you’d share it with us we could understand you.
    “Also, I can’t wait till Larry and his friends to join the coming “Chimeras and Humans Together Sexual Liberation Front.’ “Why can’t I marry my Mouse!” “Its discrimation!”
    I married my cat a long time ago and have discussed that marriage at length on his blog. Where have you been?

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Oh we stupid Christians have never considered the possibility of this before….read from Christian “thinkers” before you make such assinine statements. There is no such thing as soulless animals unless you are talking about corpses.

    I wasn’t aware that Christian thinkers had ever reached a consensus that animals had souls.