On today’s ID the Future, bioethicist Wesley J. Smith makes the case for passionate opposition to, and stricter bioethical regulations against germline genetic engineering that changes not only the genetics of the subject but also of all that subject’s descendants. He and episode host Casey Luskin discuss germline genetic editing in China, the brouhaha that ensued when the experimental work by He Jiankui came to light, and why Smith is convinced that China’s disapproving response is less than it appears on the surface. He’s convinced, he explains, that the Chinese government wasn’t upset that the Chinese scientist conducted the experiment. They surely knew about his work and allowed it, Smith says. Rather, they and the scientific establishment internationally were upset that Jiankui went public before the public had been softened up to embrace germline genetic editing with lots of talk about how it will save lives. Smith argues the health benefits being pursued can be achieved without permanently altering the germlines, and he warns of a brave new world of eugenics pursued using CRISPR technology and germline editing. As he explains, it’s not just that germline editing could lead to unintended health consequences, or that such changes could work their way into the human population long term. It’s also that the eugenics mindset driving much of this experimental work threatens to undermine the foundational belief that all humans possess inherent dignity and worth, not just those humans who are genetically edited and enhanced. The occasion for the conversation is Smith’s bioethics chapter in the recently released anthology from Harvest House Publishers, The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith.
On this episode of ID the Future, guest host Jonathan Witt sits down with molecular biologist Douglas Axe at the recent Dallas Science and Faith Conference. Axe, author of Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed, had his research on protein folds published in the Journal of Molecular Biology, work showing that random mutations are not up to the task of building fundamentally new protein folds from old, a finding that poses a major challenge to modern evolutionary theory. After all, if evolution can’t build something as basic as a new protein fold, how could it build whole new organs and body plans in the history of life? But Witt presents Axe with an objection: Axe couldn’t possibly have tested more than the tiniest fraction of a fraction of all the possible amino acid combinations for the protein he studied, so how can we trust his findings? Tune in to hear Axe’s explanation, and to learn about other lines of evidence confirming his research.