Saturday, February 26, 2011

Looking for Absolute Answers

I'm just started reading My Sister's Keeper, a novel by Jodi Picoult. The story addresses the issue of genetic engineering of a sibling to save the life of a another dying child. We live in such a complex society with all the advances of modern science, it is difficult to know what we each would do in some of our most scary situations. There seem to be too many choices, and not enough absolute answers to go around.

While we like to believe that we know where our free will would take us, do we ever really know where we'd go, given secrecy and an endless supply of options? When it is something we desperately want, we often go with our own emotion and expect forgiveness from Our Maker. But when it is the heart's desire of another, we like to believe that we would make more moral choices. Can I say with certainty that, faced with the slow, painful death of my small child, I'd not take advantage of every option know to medical miracles?

We like to say that we leave our destiny to God, and offer all our suffering up as a sacrifice. How many of us don't take an analgesic when we have a headache? Is this not interfering in the natural order of things, our way over God's will?

When it comes to procreation, we think we know where we'd draw the line, as another life is in the balance. If it's okay to block a headache, is it okay to block ovulation or fertilization? The lines get fuzzy when we speak about interfering with fertility for purposes that support procreation, when one wants a child of one's own genetic material. They get fuzzier still when we want to save or improve the quality of the lives of those we already love.

I was born back in the day when all babies were created the old-fashioned way. I remember the philosophical furor over the first test tube baby's birth. Who knew we'd one day be storing what some say is already human life in freezers? How could we have predicted that medicine would be afforded the ability to "create" life?

1 comment:

  1. Jodi Picoult has a way of raising all these questions in novel form, giving "flesh to theory," so to speak. A scientist who is good at raising the same questions is Francis Collins in his book, The Language of God. And of course, the philosopher Wendell Berry says, "Man always thinks he can release a few demons into the world and then control them" -- one of my favorite quotes!