The Man of Syn?

Thirteenth and Final in the PE Series, Reviewing Chapter Twelve

Dragon's Breath by Sharon K. Gilbert is the last chapter of Pandemonium's Engine, and its subject matter ends this series of blog posts on a strange note, which seems fitting.

Mrs. Gilbert goes back over some of the Scriptures of Genesis already noted in previous posts and some of the themes, mentioning the "alien abductions" that we sometimes read about in the newspaper or online. She believes these do occur, and give us a glimpse of an "overarching spiritual war."

She wonders if there is a Dragon's breath that can animate humans, just as the breath of God brought to life the first man, and as the Holy Spirit revives men today from spiritual death.

Gilbert enjoys some word play and suggests that the Antichrist might well be the Man of Syn, in other words, his DNA may be synthetic, altered by gene therapy. As a student at Indiana University in the mid-1990s, Gilbert's classes often discussed the ethics of molecular tinkering. She writes:

One class instructor ended a session by handing out a small slip of paper with one question on it: Is it ethical to build a super-soldier clone in order to defend our nation, and if so, is that clone "human"? … email exchanges across the globe echo … that question: Is synthetic biology ethical under any circumstance? (p 363)

Now that we have "cracked the code", Gilbert states, "We dare to imagine ourselves equivalent, nay, superior to the living God! Such hubris cannot, will not, endure for long … " — the Lord will return.

However, until that Day, expect the uninvited, bizarre and unimaginable. For example, did you know that if you have a laptop and a bank account, you can access genomic sequence information and order the nucleic acids and synthesizer for a do-it-yourself Frankenstein kit? "You can cut-and-paste your own little Frankenstein monster, complete with as many 'mommies' and 'daddies' as you like." (p 367)

Synthetic Genomics is a growing industry. The current, global market for just the reagents used in synthesis has grown to a billion dollars, and that figure is climbing. This industry doubles its activity every 14 months, and that number is several years old. The Obama administration has issued a challenge to scientists to reduce the cost of DNA analysis, and with that, lower the cost of production as well — with the promise of cheaper medical diagnosis and treatment. However, as the process becomes more affordable to anyone with a laptop, it also becomes much more volatile. Designer pathogens would be the most difficult to fight, since their sequences would be entirely novel …

Sharon Gilbert has a website, and invites you to get to know Jesus Christ. Her chapter ends with this promise: "His return is imminent. And when He comes, Jesus Christ will strike down the Dragon, put him in chains, and ultimately throw him and all who follow him into the lake of fire."

Learning to Live Forever?

Ninth in the PE Series, Reviewing Chapter Eight

Transhumanism: From Noah to Noah, written by Noah Hutchings, posits that man is looking for eternal life in all the wrong places.

He cites Genesis 6:4 as evidence of early man's genetic misadventures: There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare [children] to them, the same [became] mighty men which [were] of old, men of renown. Likewise, people today are becoming renowned by virtue of enhanced birth methods.

Here is a funny headline and if you click on it you can read the article that is not so funny: A Baby, Please. Blond, Freckles -- Hold the Colic.

I'm learning a lot by exploring references found in or via Pandemonium's Engine. I had not heard of "PGD" (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) that can make "trait selection" in babies a medical service. You can read more about it here.

Noah Hutchings is introduced in the Wikipedia as "the president of Southwest Radio Church Ministries, a Christian broadcasting company based in Oklahoma City. He is the host of their nationally syndicated radio show Your Watchman On The Wall, which is broadcast daily on stations across the USA." One of his books is: The Dark Side of the Purpose Driven Church. His ministry covers a spectrum of issues.

He begins his article by referencing a Feb. 2011 Time Magazine article, "2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal" that is worth reading. Here is a quotation from it that references "the Singularity," a concept mentioned in several of the PE articles:

Here's what the exponential curves told him. We will successfully reverse-engineer the human brain by the mid-2020s. By the end of that decade, computers will be capable of human-level intelligence. Kurzweil puts the date of the Singularity — never say he's not conservative — at 2045. In that year, he estimates, given the vast increases in computing power and the vast reductions in the cost of same, the quantity of artificial intelligence created will be about a billion times the sum of all the human intelligence that exists today.

Basically, the idea is that we are going to learn how to live forever, yet this "forever" is much different from the one Christians envision as everlasting life with the Lord. A more updated view to it is here.

On the website that sells Ray Kurzweil's book on the concept, a "blurb" states: "The Singularity is an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today — the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity."

RABBIT TRAIL: The below quotation from the Time article (referenced above) has nothing to do with the chapter under review but does help us understand the Singularity.

Kurzweil then ran the numbers on a whole bunch of other key technological indexes — the falling cost of manufacturing transistors, the rising clock speed of microprocessors, the plummeting price of dynamic RAM. He looked even further afield at trends in biotech and beyond — the falling cost of sequencing DNA and of wireless data service and the rising numbers of Internet hosts and nanotechnology patents. He kept finding the same thing: exponentially accelerating progress. "It's really amazing how smooth these trajectories are," he says. "Through thick and thin, war and peace, boom times and recessions." Kurzweil calls it the law of accelerating returns: technological progress happens exponentially, not linearly.

You may also enjoy visiting Kurzweil's Accelerating Intelligence website.

Back to our discussion, Pastor Hutchings would like the reader to consider: Do you want to pursue scientific methods to try to achieve a VERY long life — in the metaphorical sense of the word life, or why not choose eternal life — in the biological sense — in Christ Jesus?

ANOTHER RABBIT TRAIL: While exploring the Regulation of New Biotechnologies webpages on the Georgetown U. website, I was introduced to a short story, The Birth Mark, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which casts great light on the quest for human perfection. This story was discussed at the President's Council on Bioethics meeting in January 2002.

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...and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind ... the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind ...the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. -Genesis 1


A SistersSite eBook

Flesh and Bone and The Protestant Conscience is an e-book on It is 99¢ and in the Amazon lending library as well. The book description follows.

Would you let your conscience be your guide?

Does God care if the skin and bone of the dead are passed along to the living for medical uses? Is organ donation OK with God? Should you sign a Living Will?

Did you know that dead organ donors are often anesthetized before their organs are removed? Do you know the current definition of death? The conscience cannot function without facts.

As we ponder the ethics of in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and man-made chimeras, our thoughts trail off. How then should we live? (Ez 33:10)

How should a Christian think about euthanasia by starvation when doctors and the state attorney general all agree it is time to withhold feeding from a brain injured patient? Some things are family matters, but someday it may be our family.

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