Sanghamitta wrote:Of course Ajahn Brahm stops short of the latest developments which include the possibility that the fertilized egg will be developed without recourse to a human womb at all......If we take a literalist view of the Suttas are we prepared to say that the resulting baby developed without a human womb is not human ? To say nothing of the very real possibility of human cloning which will involve no egg or sperm or womb.
Ajahn Brahm's words looked great until the end.
One of the unstated but necessary ingredients for rebirth is the sight of one’s future mother, which acts as a magnet to draw the stream of consciousness in. Such an attractor would be
absent in a laboratory.
Not necessarily. He seems to assume the "sight of one's future mother," as being the literal physical body of the mother. The mother may still be seen indirectly by seeing the egg. Although it may confuse the gandhabba, when they enter what they think is the mother, only to find themselves in a test-tube, it seems reasonable to me to regard them as humans.
Also, I don't even see why there need to be two parents: The idea of the union of parents, as the basis for sentient life, is a strictly human phenomenon. It is theoretically possible for sentient forms of alien life to produce asexually, in which case there is merely a "mother" without a father. If we encountered such extraterrestrials, would Buddhists regard them as non-sentient? Ajahn Brahm says he is talking about "humans," but humanity and sentience and civil rights tend to all go hand-in-hand. We have to first dehumanize our enemies before we are prepared to deny them rights.
In the 21st and 22nd century, I foresee a great deal of hatred -- even by Buddhists -- being directed towards artificial life, including sentient machines and genetically-engineered humans and sentient extraterrestial life (if it exists), merely because they are so very different. Because of conservative views like this:
Conclusion: embryos outside of a mother’s womb are not reckoned as human life, and thus the ethical considerations specific to human beings do not apply.
If I am reborn as a genetically-engineered baby grown in a lab or a sentient robot (assuming it's possible), I hope the Buddhists of the future don't deny me rights on the basis that I did not come from a human womb.
It seems very much like denying an animal rights because they did not come from a human womb, or denying blacks rights because they did not come from a caucasian womb, or denying homosexuals rights again for the similar reason that it "goes against the natural order".