Lesson 129: Genetic engineering
TV Series: Star Trek - The Next Generation
Season/Episode: 5/13 ('The Masterpiece Society')


The crew of the Enterprise arrives at a planet that uses genetic engineering to create their societies. This way, the alien civilization pre-programs each individual born with specific abilities, talents and limitations to best serve the society.

Capt. Picard finds this genetic engineering manipulation of individuals from birth to be very distasteful. He sees the breeding out of the unknowns, uncertainties and self-discovery from life to be a hindrance, not a benefit.

He believes that knowing the future is already written and that boundaries and limitations for growth have already been set in life is a life not worth living.


Our ever growing ability to understand and manipulate the onset of life at the genetic level presents many wonderful opportunities to rid our species of many illnesses and diseases.

Just as the vaccines for Polio, Rubella, Smallpox, Tuberculosis and many others have already saved millions of lives, so perhaps one day our findings of the root causes of Cancer, HIV, and other fatal ailments at the genetic level will help rid us of those plagues also.

However, it is a totally another story if we decide to extend our genetic manipulation technology to the point of embracing Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

If we see the condition of our world today and recognize that the chaos and evils which reign supreme are all caused by those humans we ourselves have put in charge (political, religious, etc.), then can you imagine what kind of a genetically controlled world these self-centered, morally and ethically deprived megalomaniacs would create?

To place the total control of the creation of life in the hands of just a few humans does not just deny us the rights to our intrinsic freedoms, but it also absolves us of our responsibilities to control our own destinies.

Science, especially medicine, should always break through the barriers of each new frontier. But, just as science comes to a screeching halt once we try to peek past beyond the theoretical Big Bang, or beyond the physical edge of our known Universe, so must our attempts to fully manipulate the creation of life cease and desist.

This is by no means intended as a religious fervor motivated remark.

To totally control every facet of the creation of new life so as to produce artists, engineers, laborers, philosophers, etc. totally shaped and formed to never think outside of their area own of specialty, is to give birth to the death of humanity.

If we manage to cut out of life the creativity, the motivations and aspirations to learn and experience, to grow beyond our limitations and to exercise our imagination to the fullest, then we have lost perhaps our greatest gift of all, and Friedrich Nietzsche will be proven right in his statement that 'God is dead.'

Heaven help us all then!

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