James Randerson in The Guardian:
In a late response to Edge.org's annual New Year challenge to the world's leading thinkers, Prof Richard Dawkins has submitted his entry. Edge.org asked scientists, philosophers, artists and journalists “What will change everything?“
Dawkins – author of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion – muses on the effect of breaking down the barrier between humans and animals, perhaps by the creation of a chimera in a lab or a “successful hybridisation between a human and a chimpanzee”.
Here's what he had to say.
Our ethics and our politics assume, largely without question or serious discussion, that the division between human and 'animal' is absolute. 'Pro-life', to take just one example, is a potent political badge, associated with a gamut of ethical issues such as opposition to abortion and euthanasia.
What it really means is pro-human-life. Abortion clinic bombers are not known for their veganism, nor do Roman Catholics show any particular reluctance to have their suffering pets 'put to sleep'. In the minds of many confused people, a single-celled human zygote, which has no nerves and cannot suffer, is infinitely sacred, simply because it is 'human'. No other cells enjoy this exalted status.