-5

Scientists are discussing the theoretical possibility of transferring human bacteria to other planets as a way of encouraging a genetically descendent human species - primarily in places such as Mars. It's proposed as one tactic to "continue" the human race.

"If you want to roll with the terraforming scenario a bit further, you can imagine the human-encoded bacteria reassembles naturally, through organic processes, to eventually evolve into descendant organisms—sort of restarting the human population."

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/our-best-bet-for-colonizing-space-may-be-printing-humans-on-other-planets

Would a human-initiated reboot of a genetically descendent population, such as this, still fall under the purview of a Christian "God" or would such beings not count as "humans", thus not required to obey a "God" much the same way as animals are not required.

29
  • If you want to close it, I'm curious to know why. Feel free to comment. – rpeg May 30 '14 at 2:40
  • 1
    I think you will run in to the same problem as your other post tagged with transhumanism - the scope of providing a "Christian" answer is too broad for the specific focussed Q&A format of this site - there can be no correct answer to your question. Try editing it to limit the scope to a particular tradition - eg. tag Catholic & ask "Would the Catholic conception of the soul etc." or tag Calvinist/Evangelical/Some other flavor of Protestant ("Would the <Insert Protestant tradition X> understanding of scripture... etc.?" – bruised reed May 30 '14 at 3:32
  • If you would like multiple viewpoints, you can ask a new question for each viewpoint you seek an answer from – bruised reed May 30 '14 at 3:34
  • 2
    @Anonymous Catholicsim has a defined set of dogmas some of which are relevant to the discussion of the issue (nature of the soul, God's creation etc.) It's not unreasonable to expect an answer from their perspective. – bruised reed May 30 '14 at 4:33
  • 1
    @Caleb he already tried a non-specific question in this area and it was closed as off-topic - should it have been? Perhaps a little more guidance towards making it an acceptable overview question is in order – bruised reed May 30 '14 at 7:17
4

This idea of propagating the human 'race' through bacteria of other DNA carriers is relatively new even to the fields of science and philosophy and is premised on a very secular humanist world view with it's own existential definitions of things. I do not think any major Christian group1 currently has doctrinal statements that speak directly to the issue using the same terminology; although that is likely to change in the near future. Most issues raised in the secular world that have spiritual implications are eventually addressed specifically, but usually this is done in response to confusion or errant doctrine. Rarely is it done preemptively.

That being said, it is also not any stretch of the imagination to extrapolate from well established principals and suggest what Christianity's position on this is in general terms.

  1. In Christianity across a wide swath of theological spectrums, EVERYTHING is seen as falling under the purview of God. Certainly none of the major branches of Christianity would disagree with this and off the top of my head I cannot even think of any sects that take a radically different view. This is clearly expressed not only in Scripture but in many creeds. For example even in passing, mentions of God often identify him as the God of everything in all of creation.

    Acts 17:24a (ESV)
    24  The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, […]

    In other words it does not matter what matter you ask, how it is tinkered with in a laboratory, or where it is located, it will be the preview of God. Another expression of this that shows the all-encompassing nature of creation as God's is given in Colossians in relation to Christ (interpretation of this varies in some sects, but the gist of the idea that all creation, not just parts of it belong to God is pretty constant).

    Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV)
    16  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

  2. In spite of specific differences in understanding (e.g. bipartite vs. tripartite nature of man, the extent of 'sin nature', etc.) Christianity almost universally recognizes some basic attributes of man that make him human. How there are expressed has adapted to our scientific understanding, but the basics remain unchanged. In some specific attributes humans are distinct from other created beings. It is not the fact that we are a living organism that makes us human, it is the fact that we have certain properties. In official doctrinal statements this will be variously identified as "having a soul" or "being able to reason", but they all stem from man having been made "in the image of God".

    Genesis 1:26 (ESV)
    26  Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

    This distinction is not made for the creation of other species of animals and I know of no Christian sects that do not recognize at least some basic distinction along these lines.

From those two basic Christian beliefs in can easily be extrapolated that:

  • Christianity does not (neither historically nor currently) label anything as human that does not fit the classic understanding of such. No bacteria or disembodied tissue—whatever DNA may be present—is considered a substitute for the combination of body and soul that comprises humanity.

  • Under no circumstances, no matter what science comes up with to advance or pervert creation, will any part of the physical universe be outside the the rightful dominion of God. Historically even attempts to suggest otherwise have met with God's blunt denial that such a thing will be (see for example the Tower of Babel episode).

1 A notable exception might be "Christian Scientology", although to my knowledge the branches that have significantly different doctrinal views on issues like this also don't claim affiliation with Christianity in a way that would make them relevant to the scope of the question.

10
  • Great response. – rpeg May 30 '14 at 7:42
  • There are Christians who do not believe in evolution that must be excluded from your answer as it is based on the assumption that Darwinian evolution exists. You cannot make a statement for most Christians unless you can prove that most Christians believe in unscientific evolution theories. There are also Christians who realize that the science the question is based on is complete nonsense and that the question should have been placed on hold immediately as it is intended as a provocation. – gideon marx May 30 '14 at 13:52
  • Maybe just answer for the Catholics. – gideon marx May 30 '14 at 13:53
  • @gideonmarx Just because a (significant) number of Christian perspectives would reject that particular premise in the OP, doesn't mean they can't speak to the issue in a hypothetical fashion - in fact for anyone to address it, they must do likewise as it is a hypothetical question. – bruised reed May 30 '14 at 16:35
  • 2
    @gideonmarx Caleb's answer doesn't rely on that premise (it neither explicitly denies it nor affirms it) so it is well crafted to serve multiple viewpoints. – bruised reed May 30 '14 at 16:37

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.