Sunday, July 19, 2009

Defiling the sacred

We hold values of love, honesty and universal justice in high esteem. Honesty seems better than dishonesty. Love and compassion seem better than indifference or hate. Being just seems better than forgoing justice in the name of practicality.

These attributes matter to me. I am pretty confident that they matter to an overwhelmingly large majority of the human population. What bothers me is the alleged universality of such attributes. These attributes might appear universal to us because all humans, and perhaps most animals share the same cognitive machinery.

Why are these attributes significant? Why do they matter? What if their significance lies just in the way our brains are wired? What happens, as we gain the ability to alter our genetics and construct new life forms, we create a world where the things that we consider so sacred to life can be defiled with just a switch of a button, with the re-assignment of a variable and the rewiring of a bunch of neurons?

Will we want to create such a world? Will we want to live in such a world?

Update: I am usually optimistic and hopeful about the future -- it has its due share of challenges but it also offers exciting opportunities. I am feeling particularly disharmonious and agitated today, and your overall mood affects the thoughts that come to mind. I do consider the points I raised to be valid so I will leave the post as is but just note that I am rather hopeful that we will figure things out along the way.

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