St. John’s College, Brantford, Ontario

                                        Winner 16-18 yr. Group

 

“It’s dramatic. It’s emotional. I don’t say I kill. I terminate. I end. I interfere. I intercept.” The Newspeak employed by Dr Peterson, a highly established and widely known abortionist, suggests that the 1984 projected by Orwell is by no means completely devoid of fact. His words are symptomatic of a destructive transition that is presently occurring in our society, undermining the basic dignity of human life, and promoting technological exploitation for the benefit of a few select individuals.

 

Recently, I had an opportunity to read an extremely enlightening book written by the well known and highly respected scholar, C.S. Lewis, disclosing his views on the increasing control man has recently assumed over human life as a result of advances in the area of technology. He made the valid argument that “if, in reality of course, any one age attains the power to make its descendants what it pleases, all men who live after it are patients of that power — they are weaker, not stronger. For though we many put wonderful machines in their hands, we have pre-ordained how they are to use them.” If we use our technology as we are presently, to destroy all life that fails to conform to our expectations or to our desires, we will have reduced ourselves to the level of mere nature, the label used to identify anything over which man has assumed jurisdiction. Thus, rather than strengthening our position, we will have wakened it. The image of one dominant age resisting the mentality of previous generations and their conservative attitudes, while irresistibly and successfully dominating all subsequent ages, comes to mind when reference is made to the attempts of scientists experimenting with human life so as to make it more compatible with human desire. As Lewis contends, “the final stage in man’s destruction comes when he achieves by means of eugenics, prenatal conditioning, education and propaganda, total control of himself.” There is an imminent danger in our superficial society, which fails to contemplate with the implications of new technology that we may evolve into a race of conditioners, imposing our design on subsequent generations at will. Scientific advances, by equipping us with the means of achieving this end, will likely promote this trend.

 

The nature of this dilemma raises a vital question which must be addressed before any attempts are made in the direction of enhancing human control over human life. What kind of conscience will govern the conditioners of the future? And what kind of conscience will they produce within the conditioned? Once they have succeeded in conquering nature and thus in asserting ultimate independence, once they move from a state of being governed by natural processes to a state of employing them as tools for enhancing the well-being of mankind, to what and to whom are they responsible? What happens to man’s concept of duty when he assumes a status superior to that of nature, and is thus no longer governed by natural instinct? The conditioners of the future, if they desire to be makers of conscience rather than subjects of it, will be forced to reject all moral principles. The conditioners, reluctant to submit to conscience and feeling themselves no longer obliged to do so, will behave impulsively. For to submit to duty would be to resign to the very natural instincts over which they have attempted to assume control. And yet, in resorting to emotion, to impulse, and the conditioners not also resigning to nature? Unquestionably so. Given this dilemma, it is obvious that man’s conquest of nature is in effect nature’s conquest of man. We reduce an object to mere nature when we assume jurisdiction over it and adopt an impulsive approach towards it. Thus, as emphasized before, in assuming complete jurisdiction over man and adopting an impulsive approach to his conditioning, we will have resigned ourselves to the very force it was our initial intent to overcome. Man, in assuming the status of nature, would evidently lose his capacity for self-control.