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Opening Pandora’s box: Having designer babies draws near

BABY-FEET

Imagine you could design your future son or daughter. What would your perfect child look and act like? What physical and mental traits would you want your child to have?

But perhaps the more important question is this: Would you modify your future child’s traits if you could?

It’s a question all prospective parents may soon have to wrestle with. Recent innovations in gene editing technology have already made it possible to remove certain hereditary diseases from a human embryo’s DNA, which is exactly what a Swedish biologist did last year. However, the technology could theoretically be used one day to create children full of desirable traits and free of any adverse traits their parents don’t want them to have.

In anticipation of these technological advances, Superdrug Online Doctor surveyed 1,000 people, 500 Americans and 500 Europeans, who were either parents or interested in becoming parents and asked them what traits they would modify in their future children if they could. The two most commonly cited traits were health and intelligence.

Men and women agreed intelligence, by far, was the most important mental trait for their children to have. Other commonly desired traits included creativity and kindness.

In terms of physical traits, health was by far the most cited characteristic among both men and women. Everyone agreed weight and attractiveness were of secondary importance, but men prized athletic ability far more than women did.

Based on the survey results, a man’s ideal child is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy of above average height, while a woman’s ideal child is a black-haired, blue-eyed girl of average height.

When asked how much they would pay for these genetic modifications, a plurality of people said they would pay between $1,000 and $5,000 for an intelligent child and $10,000 or more for a healthy child. However, a slight plurality of Europeans said they would only pay between $1,000 and $5,000 for a healthy child.

What Superdrug Online Doctor did not mention was how many respondents said they believed genetic modification of children was unethical, although the report implies respondents were asked that question. A STAT-Harvard poll conducted in January 2016 found a whopping 83 percent of Americans did not think changing the genes of unborn babies to improve their intelligence or physical characteristics should be legal. In fact, 65 percent did not even think changing unborn babies’ genes to reduce their risk of developing certain serious diseases should be legal.

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A number of religious leaders told WND they could see some good in gene editing technology, but the moral consequences of predetermining a child’s mental and physical traits could be devastating.

“It definitely opens a Pandora’s box!” exclaimed Pastor Mark Biltz, founder of El Shaddai Ministries and author of “God’s Day Timer.” “I have mixed feelings on it. As a parent with a special needs child whom I love very much just as he is, I also would have wished, if possible and only for his sake, it could have been corrected ahead of time.

“While we are not to ‘play God’ as far as trying to have control and authority over others, God did create us in His image and gave us creative ability to make the world a better place. According to Judaism our main responsibility is to repair the world. I guess I would be against it for general use in creating designer babies, but I would be for anything that would prevent disease. So I guess I would agree ‘health’ matters.”

Joel Richardson, a Bible prophecy expert and New York Times bestselling author of books such as “The Islamic Antichrist” and “Mystery Babylon,” was more pessimistic about this new technology.

“This is no doubt a very disturbing trend,” he told WND. “In the ultimate sense, all good things are from the hand of God, but there are few things that mankind has not found a way to abuse. Technology is quickly becoming the vanguard through which mankind’s perversion and rebellion against their Creator is manifest. The genetic modification of children is a Pandora’s box that should never be opened.”

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Jan Markell, founder of Olive Tree Ministries and host of the “Understanding the Times” radio show, cautioned that humans should not try to play the role of God.

“Man is always trying to play God or attain the power of God,” she told WND. “Satan began such thinking in Isaiah 14 when he said that he would become like the Most High. He injects that idea in men’s minds daily. What pompous thinking. But we have designer jeans and designer homes, so why not kids?”

Markell sees the concept of “designer kids” as a bridge too far.

“This might start out with good intentions: Let’s get rid of some diseases and deficiencies,” she said. “But this kind of thinking likely existed during the time of Noah when the world was anti-God. The people wanted to be God. If they had the technology and science, I suspect they would have made designer babies.

“What’s not to like about this idea? What’s wrong with it? Primarily that God chooses life, chooses personalities, chooses gifts, chooses talents, chooses personality, and chooses the color of one’s eyes. Mankind is not an option on a menu where you select your preference.”

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Carl Gallups, a Baptist pastor and talk radio host, said he is a strong proponent of technological innovations, especially those that add to the quality of human life. However, he also recognizes we live in a fallen world full of fallen human beings, so rapid technological expansion can be a double-edged sword.

Gallups, the author of many books, including his latest title “When The Lion Roars,” pointed to the Internet, an amazing educational, informational and communication tool that can also be used to disseminate evil around the world in milliseconds. He also cited nuclear technology, which brought advancements in energy but also the weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and set off a global arms race.

“As in these two examples, when the lid is opened on many tech advancements it simply cannot, or will not, be shut – even when the evil contained within pops out its ugly head,” Gallups told WND.

“Now we are faced with a similar technological breakthrough. We have discovered CRISPR-Cas9 and genetic splicing capabilities. We are now on the precipice of being able to genetically engineer and/or modify within species. The benefits to this kind of technology are easily recognized; we might be able to eliminate certain birth defects and genetically inherited diseases. However, the horrifically evil potential is also there. The same with ‘genetically modifying’ our children. There could be some advantages – but the slippery downhill slope of the ‘manufacturing’ of the ‘perfect human race’ is also in the mix. What could possibly go wrong with that?”

Gallups reminded believers that Jesus said the days before His return would be just like the days of Noah, and he believes we are now living in such a time.

“What was the hallmark biblical declaration about those days of Noah?” Gallups asked rhetorically. “‘And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.’ (Genesis 6:5, 11-12).

“That is the exact description of our current day. We are living in the most prophetic times since the first coming of Jesus Christ. The new knowledge of ‘good and evil’ that allows us to genetically modify and/or design our own children and redesign the ‘flesh’ of other species is a Pandora’s box that will not be closed until the Lord returns – and it serves as one more stark reminder that we are ever closer to that day.”

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