'We Now Know'

The boast of imperial science.

Last week we heard from Dr. Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology, who bragged that his company was bringing "some science, some reality" to the debate over human cloning. Those who object to human cloning, in other words, are simply out of touch with reality.

Not all scientists—not even a majority, one hopes—would endorse Lanza's boast. But many would. To any moral objections that might constrain their research, they have an all-purpose answer: "We now know."

We = the experts, the scientists, the Masters.

Now = the enlightened present, as opposed to the superstitious past.

Know = beyond question, beyond doubt; anyone who disagrees with us is foolish, wicked, or insane.

The Astonishing Hypothesis is that "You," your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.

—Francis Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul

The supposedly immaterial soul, we now know, can be bisected with a knife, altered by chemicals, started or stopped by electricity, and extinguished by a sharp blow or by insufficent oxygen.

—Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works

"In mid-continent Europe," writes Alexander Marshack in The Roots of Civilization,

below the northern ice, in the corridor stretching from Czechoslovakia through Poland into the Ukraine and eastward to Siberia, was a vast forestless tundra of flat land, rolling hills and passes, and cold rivers and streams along which the herds of mammoth fed, migrated, and roamed.
Hunting these herds around 27,000 B.C. was an exceptionally skilled and intelligent Homo sapiens. In skeleton and brain capacity he was a modern man, ...
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June
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