Genospirituality: genetic engineering for spiritual and religious enhancement.
“The most frequently discussed role for genetic engineering is in relation to medicine, and a second area which provokes discussion is the use of genetic engineering as an enhancement technology. But one neglected area is the potential use of genetic engineering to increase human spiritual and religious experience – or genospirituality. If technologies are devised which can conveniently and safely engineer genes causal of spiritual and religious behaviours, then people may become able to choose their degree of religiosity or spiritual sensitivity. For instance, it may become possible to increase the likelihood of direct religious experience – i.e. ‘revelation’: the subjective experience of communication from the deity. Or, people may be able to engineer ‘animistic’ thinking, a mode of cognition in which the significant features of the world – such as large animals, trees, distinctive landscape features – are regarded as sentient and intentional beings; so that the individual experiences a personal relationship with the world. Another potentially popular spiritual ability would probably be shamanism; in which states of altered consciousness (e.g. trances, delirium or dreams) are induced and the shaman may undergo the experience of transformations, ‘soul journeys’ and contact with a spirit realm. Ideally, shamanistic consciousness could be modulated such that trances were self-induced only when wanted and when it was safe and convenient; and then switched-off again completely when full alertness and concentration are necessary. It seems likely that there will be trade-offs for increased spirituality; such as people becoming less ‘driven’ to seek status and monetary rewards – as a result of being more spiritually fulfilled people might work less hard and take more leisure. On the other hand, it is also possible that highly moral, altruistic, peaceable and principled behaviours might become more prevalent; and the energy and joyousness of the best churches might spread and be strengthened. Overall, genospirituality would probably be used by people who were unable to have the kind of spiritual or religious experiences which they wanted (or perhaps even needed) in order to lead the kind of life to which they aspired.”