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《菩提田》

 

BODHI FIELD

漫談科技發展學與人類社會
Recent Scientific Developments and Their Influence on Society

王慶東 文及英譯 Article and English translation by James Q. Wang

西方文化近兩個世紀的飛速發展之主要推動力,就是科學技術。我們可以看出科學的本質是在於人類對於外欲,對於 外部世界的不斷追求和探索下而不斷進步,其前提就是一個「心外而求」,而忽略了人類對於自性的探索。

以下我們可以就生物學、物理學及電腦網路,略略談一下近代科學的發展:

生物學的發展方向

近代生物界一直有一種觀點,認為應該保護各類瀕臨絕滅的動物,其目的在於未來能夠供給人類各類不同動物的基 因,來人為控制生物品類的發展。根據基因學理論,生物的發展和特性是由 DNA(脫氧核醣核酸)來決定。這樣欲控制生物的品質,生物學家們就必須先能控制 DNA。DNA 的複製及變異是由各類生物脢的催化作用而完成的,因此對於具關鍵性的生物脢的研製、開發就成了近年來各大學研究機構,及生物醫藥公司的科研投資重點。

通過大量的人力、物力、財力和時間的投入,現在生物界已經能控制一些低等生物間的基因轉換了,如在市場中可以 看到的一些基因工程蔬菜、食物,就是通過生物基因工程處理,即利用生物脢技術將內在基因加以誘導改變,使其帶有其他品種蔬菜的特定優點。這樣生長出來的成 熟的瓜果會更加受到消費者的喜歡。

從表面上看來,這似乎帶來了一定的社會效應,能夠改善人的生活水平。但從深處來看,人們可以人為地改變蔬菜品 種的 DNA 結構;可是欲使這種結構改變成為生物體自身的永久結構,還有遠遠一大步需要突破,因為這種 DNA 變化不是自然發生的,而是外來強行改變的,由這種DNA 培育出來的個體,在一定的時間內還可能按自身的生物發展特性,自發地再進行 DNA 轉變,這種潛在的 DNA 變化,不但可能使食物喪失原有的營養成份,甚至可能帶有長期的負效應,如產生各種毒素等。

從佛法上來看,這種生物處理方法是不可取的。我們大家都很熟悉天地間自然的中道之運作,而這種基因工程方法卻 強行進行生物體人為改變,忽略了因果才是決定一切的真理。人需要培植一定的福報,才能夠享受到更好的果實,而不是撥無因果地一味索求,這樣往往會導致將來 的不良結果。在現代商業的推動下,生物研究機構已經耗費了大量人力、物力、財力、時間,而可以達到一些人為的基因轉變,以為其商業利益及其他利益服務,但 這對於人類將來的後果,則是生物界無法掌握的。

去年英文「時代周刊」曾報導,英美兩國大學的一些生物學家,特意培育出了幾個沒有頭的老鼠。他的方法是先將製 造頭部的基因先行提取出來,再將剩下的 DNA 結構進行個體培育,然後待此個體長出後,再看著牠不久即死去,以此驗證他的實驗。這位生物學家明明知道沒有了頭的動物,不能進行呼吸等生命活動,可是仍然 刻意去製造這種怪胎。之後這位科學家又向外界宣布他將利用 DNA 變異培育不能思維的人,供他進行各種醫藥試驗。我們知道,當年中國的祖先神農為了救治人類,親嘗藥草以達其性,可謂是聖人之道。現代人類用小白鼠等各類生 物做試驗,已非仁義之舉,更何況是人為地創造出一種不能思維的人來供他試驗,這已完全與道相違了。

待續

作者簡介:王慶東,生於中國南京。1995年 獲美國康州大學化學工程碩士學位後,於 Molten Metal Technology 公司任化學工程師。其間在田納西州的 Oak Ridge 實驗室進行了一年多的環境處理工廠設計工程工作。1997年7月來萬佛聖城任義務教師。 


天地間自然的中道之運作,而這種基因工程 方法卻強行進行生物體人為改變,忽略了因果才是決定一切的真理。


One important impetus for the rapid development of western civilization over the last two centuries has been science and technology. It is not difficult to see that scientific investigation is based on people's desire to explore the outer world. This continuous endeavor and progress can be defined as “pursuit outside one's mind”.

The following is a brief discussion of this topic based on the latest developments in biotechnology, physics, and computer Internet.

On Biotechnology
The biotech community has long held the view that we should protect various kinds of animals from extinction, so that in the future people can control various kinds of life by controlling the genes from these animals. Based on the theory of genetics, the basic characteristics of an animal are determined by its DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). The duplication and mutation of DNA are manipulated by biological enzymes, which are biological catalysts. As a result, universities and biochemical companies have been spending a lot of energy on the research and development of biological enzymes, and have already achieved great progress. In the supermarkets nowadays, one may see quite a few kinds of genetically engineered food and produce, whose genetic characteristics have been altered with the aim of bringing greater satisfaction to the customer.

At first glance, genetic engineering appears to be beneficial to society and consumers. However, we have a long way to go before we will be able to permanently and safely change the interior structure of certain biological entities. The above DNA mutation method is enforced from outside as opposed to being a natural change, and the biological entity produced in this way may go through genetic mutation again in its growth based on its own biological characteristics. This kind of potential re-mutation may not only cause the food to lose its original nutritional content, it can also cause some long-term, unknown, and possibly dangerous side-effects.

It is easy to see that this kind of bio-treatment method is not proper from a Buddhist point of view. As we know, everything in the universe operates according to the principle of the Middle Way. Genetic engineering, however, aims to artificially cause biological mutations, thus overlooking the fundamental law of cause and effect. Human beings need to foster merit and blessings before they can hope to enjoy a better fruition. If we insist on seeking a better result without looking at the causes, the consequences will be severe. The progress that these biotechnology research groups have attained will benefit certain people and interest groups, but the biotech community cannot guarantee what long-term effects it will bring.

The January 19, 1998 issue of Time in Canada carried an article titled “Of Headless Mice...and Men.” Two labs are reported to have created some headless mice. Researchers found the gene that tells the embryo to produce the head, deleted it, and then tried to produce headless mice. Having no way to breathe, the mice died soon afterwards. Later Princeton biologist Lee Silver announced that it would certainly be possible to produce human bodies without a forebrain, and he claimed that these human bodies without any semblance of consciousness would not be considered persons, and thus it would be perfectly legal to keep them ‘alive' as a future source of organs.  As we all know, the ancient Chinese ruler Shen Nong tested all kinds of natural medicine on himself in order to determine their effects and help people; he truly followed the path of the Sage. The current use of mice in various bio-tests is immoral enough; creating humans without forebrains to serve as experimental material is completely opposed to the Way.

To be continued

About the author: James Q. Wang was born in Nanjing, China. In 1995, after earning a Master's degree in Chemical Engineering at University of Connecticutt, he worked as a chemical engineer at Molten Metal Technologies, Inc. During that time, he spent over a year at their laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, doing design work for a nuclear waste treatment facility. In July of 1997, he came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to be a volunteer teacher.

Everything in the universe operates according to the principle of the Middle Way. Genetic engineering, however, aims to artificially cause biological mutations, thus overlooking the fundamental law of cause and effect.

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