Published: November 15th, 2006 » Tags: Ethics, Theology, Science

A classical short story titled The Birthmark (Nathaniel Hawthorne) raises a few very important questions concerning the relationship between religion, theology, ethics, and science. The main characters in the story - Aylmer (the man of science) and Georgina (the beautiful but blemished wife) - seem less and less human as the story’s momentum builds toward an ominous conclusion. Overwhelmed is humanity by a shared quest for absolute human perfection via scientific solution(s) and more than a bit of blind and desperate scientific experimentation. Once upon a time, Aylmer and Georgina could live with their human and natural imperfection(s), at least until they became sharply conscious - or aware - of them. They are the story of the Eden Garden fall re-lived, epitomized even. Once the pair achieved and consequently possessed knowledge of the difference between good and evil (perfection and imperfection) neither hell nor high water could prevent them from seeking out a solution for what once was trivial but now caused severe discomfort (i.e., the blemish on Georgina’s cheek). The pair was even willing to - and did - suffer catastrophic consequence and loss in their search for human perfection. Georgina dies after swallowing what seemed to be a scientific cure for her blemish (it worked, but she died too). How far are we willing to move the proverbial line separating conceptual human and/or personal perfection and imperfection? Will we - in the name of ‘because we can’ - seek solutions for all of yesterday’s trivial human instances, thus kicking off an endless and addictive sequence of chronological promotions of the ‘once trivial’ to the ‘now crucial?’ When is humanity - our humanity - lost in the process? These are all very important religious, theological, ethical, and scientific questions.

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