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Discussion 1 to Reflections on Ethics 13
What's Natural?

by Wes Herche

Re: Reflection 13

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This is an excerpt from the article that provided arguments for why people are against cloning followed by the author's response:

It’s not natural. Really, these are just code words for “I don’t like it.” What in our lives is truly natural? Every technical advance humans have made whether in reproduction or in the rest of our lives is unnatural. My house is not natural, nor is my car, nor my clothing, not most of what I eat, nor is my artificial knee. And I wouldn’t give any of them up. As for reproductive technology, artificial insemination is not natural. In vitro insemination is not natural. Fertility drugs are not natural. And the minority among us with reproductive difficulties should not be forced to give them up.”

I disagree. Cloning is natural, so is your artificial knee, fertility drugs, and a Commodore 64 computer wrapped in plastic sitting in a chemical factory. And why? Because all of the aforementioned came FROM THE EARTH. They may have arrived via various means, but I assure you Martians most likely did not deliver them. So in that sense maybe moon rocks or meteorite fragments are “unnatural” but that’s ignoring the bigger picture.

The earth, and all of its components... including the carbon structure that led to talking bags of water we call people, were created (most likely) by the fusion processes of a very old star that went supernova a long time ago. Since we know energy can never be created or destroyed, and thanks to E=mc2 therefore matter, all the matter that exist in the universe (including distant stars, water, fuel-injection carburetors, flowers, and my gym bag) have existed since the beginning of time. And therefore they couldn’t be more natural.

The idea that “man-made” things are somehow “unnatural” is not only simple minded, but it is ignorant, and dangerously indicative of a god complex. Humans are not special! They are a natural derivation of the earth (and the universe… in the physical sense… not some esoteric mystical sense) and therefore their creations ARE NATURAL. Is a beaver’s dam natural?… then why not Hoover Dam? The idea that what humans create / intervene with are unnatural is somehow separating humans from everything else in the universe, which is arrogant and ignorant.

Additionally I think I’ve used the word “create” a little too loosely (to indulge in the semantics). Since energy / matter is never created or destroyed, nothing can be “created” just rearranged (basically). This sheds a lot of insight as to why the word “synthetic” is so horribly misused and misunderstood. To “synthesize” is to bring two distinct things together. When I synthesize Fruity Pebbles with Soy Milk I call it breakfast. When “nature” synthesizes water and minerals (and some other things that at a botanist could tell you about) we call it a tree. Breakfast, trees, cyanide, water (synthesis of hydrogen and oxygen), computer processors, moon rocks, dirty motor oil, and socks are all SYNTHESIZED. The only apparent exception is hydrogen… and that’s only on the atomic level… I won’t dive into the subatomic… but trust me, hydrogen is also synthesized.

Revel in your naturalness.