Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Chimera!?! Chalupa?!? Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

TheWall Street Journal recently ran an article about chimeras, which I thought was odd. I mean I like chimeras as much as the next guy, those tasty Mexican confections: corn tortillas dough fried in a boat shape and filled with shredded meat, vegetables, or cheese as appetizers or even a meal in themselves. Dee-lish.

What's that you say? That's a chalupa? A-ha. Then what's a chimera?

Turns out a chimera is not a tasty Mexican anything. The aforementioned article: Now that Chimeras Exist, What if Some Turn Out Too Human? describes these animals with human genes and organs, spliced togeher by geneticists. And apparently they're making them in labs all over the world. More than creating them, they are hatching plans to kill them if they show themselves to be "too human." Actually, now that I think of it, some of them could be Mexican but that's not the point.

The first chimera (actually pronounced kymeera) was a creation of Greek mythology. This bad boy was part lion, part goat and part snake. Then, about two millenia later, the name was given to the resulting mostronsities created by scientists mixing and matching embryonic animal cells. The first was a "geep": the result of mixing the fetal cells of a sheep and a goat. (Is it me or is it ironic that these two animals were also used by our Lord to exemplify those going to glory and those going to hell?)

Of course, science couldn't and didn't stop there. In the late 80s, a human-mouse chimera (a house?) was unveiled. The mousy-man creature had internal organs made of human tissue: a human spleen, human liver, human thymus (whatever that is) and human lymph nodes.

Now, scientists are moving to putting human brain cells in mice. Finally, some bioethicists began speaking out (are these guys late to the party or what?). The National Academy of Sciences recommended that some research be banned outright, like experiments that would have a mouse with human sperm mating with a mouse with a human egg resulting in a pregnant mouse carrying a human fetus. Says master-of-the-obvious Henry Greely -- a bioethicist: "We're not very concerned about a mouse with a human spleen, but we get really concerned about our brain and gonads." Well ... I'll sign that memo.

So why create chimeras in the first place? Scientists claim the use of chimeras will give them living models that will help them cure a host of diseases, but most prominently, scientists say, AIDS. That wraps our friend the chimura in a boat-shaped tortilla called politics. Of course, we already have a cure for AIDS: following the law of God. Abstinence before marriage and keeping the marriage bed pure would destroy this dreaded disease in a generation. Fallen humanity is unwilling and unable to access this cure, until quickened by the Holy Spirit (and even then it's sometimes kind of shaky). Perhaps some humanists are hoping that chimeras and other scientific advances will deliver us from the wages of sin ... but don't bet lunch at Taco Bell on it.