The full trailer for "Jurassic World" was released this week, and being a fan, this made me ecstatic. The emergence of "Jurassic Park" onto the screen in 1993 makes being a child during the 1990s something to be jealous of. But while the movie captures your imagination with making dinosaurs through careful genetic modification and biotechnology, it also raises the Dr. Ian Malcolm question, "should we be doing this?"
Improvements in technology and biotechnology have given us unprecedented freedom. You see it clearly in "Jurassic Park," especially when the John Hammond says, "Creation is an act of sheer will." I think this summarizes modernity's position on the use of technology and biotechnology, but how many innovators actually stop to wonder if all of these improvements are good?
Obviously, no one wants to return to a place before vaccinations, prescription drugs, air-conditioning, or the screen. But do any of these things fulfill our longing for happiness and ontological grounding?
Aristotle says that life can only be fulfilled when man shifts his desires towards virtue:
"Since happiness is an activity of soul in accordance with perfect virtue, we must consider the nature of virtue; for perhaps, we shall, thus, see better the nature of happiness."
Does the progression of the atom bomb, predator drones, and biological warfare teach us about what we need to know in order to fill the voids in our souls, achieve happiness, or to flourish in life? Of course not, because these things can only be obtained by educating the soul in religion and virtue.
I think it's important both to appreciate, and to be skeptical of, technology. We can't forget that nature is in control. When our eyes glaze over at the success of our innovation, we have lost hold of the truth. This occurrs in "Jurassic Park." Dr. Ian Malcolm is the only critic of what is happening in the park. You see it in his argument at dinner with John Hammond:
"Gee, the lack of humility before nature that's being displayed here, uh... staggers me.
Don't you see the danger, John, inherent in what you're doing here? Genetic power is the most awesome force the planet's ever seen, but you wield it like a kid that's found his dad's gun.
If I may... Um, I'll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you're using here, it didn't require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn't earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don't take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you're selling it, you wanna sell it.
Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should."
Even as we use technology, let's not forget to wonder whether we should.