Context #11 (Spring, 2004, pp.
19-24); copyright 2004 by The Nature Institute
This is a revised and somewhat truncated version of
an article that appeared in the Winter, 2004 issue of The New Atlantis.
I had been invited to write a response to a report of the President's
Council on Bioethics, Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit
of Happinessand specifically to the chapter entitled "Better
Children." The chapter deals with attempts to improve children through
genetic engineering and through the use of drugs to control behavior.
You will find the report at www.bioethics.gov.
Why do leaves turn red? Where does the sun go at night? What made Whiskers die? Will Mommy die sometime, and, Daddy, will you die, too?
Children are notorious for posing naïve and perplexing questions. When one of our sons was four years old, he asked, "Why did God make poisonous snakes?" I do not recall our answer, but very much doubt whether it was helpful. And who among us can do justice to the most perplexing question of allthe one incarnated in every newborn child: "Who are you, and for what purpose have you entered our lives?"