Mark broke the 11th Commandment, and mentioned the Vatican’s new list of seven deadly sins, which apparently are the following:
- Drug abuse
- Morally debatable experimentation
- Environmental pollution
- Causing poverty
- Social inequality and injustice
- Genetic manipulation
- Accumulating excessive wealth
Some of those are cute, by the way. One could very easily argue that Social Inequality is at the center of Catholic hierarchy, for example the sex-apartheid of the clergy and the, ahem, easily arguable sexism of their employment opportunities. (I mean, forget glass ceilings. This one’s painted by Michaelangelo!)
Injustice? Church history’s full of that. I mean, massacres at the behest of the Vatican. Massacres. Crusades with papal blessings. Slaughter campaigns. And causing poverty is something that many educated people argue is one direct byproduct of the Church’s dictates regarding reproductive-control technologies.
As for morally debatable experimentation and drug abuse, I’ve been arguing for years that it’s the Church that discovered (or, at least, repackaged the Greek discovery of) and pioneered (experimentally, of course) hallucinogenic states and altered consciousness experiences, as well as brainwashing techniques, via a combination of music, art, and architecture that was unparalleled in Western civilization. I mean, you didn’t think they were paying those artists and musicians and architects for the sake of beauty and art and lovely architecture alone, did you? Sure, nice art’s nice. But nice art’s even nicer when it helps you secure theocratic rule. And it did.
That just leaves causing pollution, and genetic manipulation. Causing pollution, well… that is much less a sin than an unfortunate (and eliminable) byproduct of what is still the Goofy Prototype stage of technological civilization. (We’ll be beyond the Goofy Prototype stage when it’s truly sustainable and functional in all senses of the word. Which may take less change than most people currently think.) The Luddite hairshirts are showing, dear clerical pals. Why is being anti-technological civilization the same as being for God? Could it be because technological modernity is less dependent on your outfit, and you fare worse whenever tech and education fare better?
And as for genetic manipulation, well, without it there would be mass poverty, mass injustice, and mass death. After all, contemporary agriculture is standing directly on it. Yes, there are issues. Yes, there are risks. Yes, we need to be careful. But what’s really at stake is that genetic manipulation is fully human-made, and fully real, and a hell of a contender for any miracle in the Bible. When limbs can literally, truly be regrown through science, when organs can be regenerated or replaced within someone’s body, without invasive surgery, then the miracles in the Bible will pale in their rarity, in their skimpiness, and from their dubious evidences.
And when, finally, science effectively makes involuntary death an obsolete concept — which, if humans survive long enough, it will eventually do, because this is one of the things pre-scientific and scientific experimentation has been driving at since the idea first crossed our thuggish rulers’ minds — there is a good chance that religion will have been abandoned already, long before, by the vast majority of people. So, yes, the clerical opposition to applied genetics is in fact quite understandable, from a strategic point of view. It’s like trying to declare whole milk a health hazard while you’ve got the whole neighborhood buying tasteless, bland powdered milk from your stand on the sidewalk.
In the article Mark linked above, Seven New Deadly Sins, P.J. O’Rourke has a go at outlining a few more deadly sins, like Celebrity, Communication[-glut], and Youth[-worship].
It’s worth a snicker, but personally, I’d have gone for something a little more aggressive:
- Helping epidemics spread… and claiming to do it out of respect for human life. (Um. AIDS? Condoms?)
- Castigating scientific research that could ease the suffering of millions. (Which, let’s face it, is what a lot of GM research is about, whether it’s agricultural or human genetics we’re manipulating.)
- Inflicting sexual anxiety on others. Protecting child-molesters and meanwhile attempting to deform the sexual lives of millions and making sexuality a central obsession of religious purity.
- Undermining social harmony. Fighting the separation of church and state whenever the opportunity arises, while turning potential citizens into one-issue voters obsessed with a law that simply will not be changed.
- Being a powerful hypocrite. Not bothering to castigate genocides (and not just the German-led one, either) , while claiming moral authority, and while castigating fantasy novels when they are turned into movies.
- Brainwashing millions using terror-tactics. Engaging in a millennia-long terrorist campaign threatening eternal torture for non-compliance with divine dictates. ‘Cause, like, who invented terrorism, folks?
- Accumulating excessive wealth and pretending it’s for a good cause. Papal hypocrisy is nothing new, sadly; nor is it rare among saints and would-be saints, I would imagine. Excessive wealth? Check out them logs in your own eyes, fellas…