In the Beginning was the Genome: Genomics and the Bi-textuality of Human Existence

The New Bioethics 24 (1):26-43 (2018)
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Abstract

This paper addresses the cultural impact of genomics and the Human Genome Project on human self-understanding. Notably, it addresses the claim made by Francis Collins that the genome is the language of God and the claim made by Max Delbrück that Aristotle must be credited with having predicted DNA as the soul that organises bio-matter. From a continental philosophical perspective I will argue that human existence results from a dialectical interaction between two types of texts: the language of molecular biology and the language of civilisation; the language of the genome and the language of our socio-cultural, symbolic ambiance. Whereas the former ultimately builds on the alphabets of genes and nucleotides, the latter is informed by primordial texts such as the Bible and the Quran. In applied bioethics deliberations on genomics, science is easily framed as liberating and progressive, religious world-views as conservative an...

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Hub Zwart
Erasmus University Rotterdam

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