Oryx and Crake
The argumentative essay is organized as follows:
It tells us something about the author and the book in a brief sense.
Body: Arguments against-We are not supposed to simply because we have and we can
It has the points or arguments against with each point taking approximately one standard paragraph.
It has a summary of what appears to be the winning side of the argument and why.
Just because we can Access and Use Scientific Knowledge such as Genetic Engineering, should we?
Oryx and Crake as written by Margaret Atwood presents a morally complex question as far as scientific knowledge is concerned. This covers the period from investigation or research to the time the knowledge has been obtained and can be put into use. The complexity that emerges is based on the consequences that this knowledge has on human life.
As a starting point, in the society that Atwood presents to us, the benefit of science and numbers has evidently been understood. This leads to the forgetting of the fact that every part of knowledge is important. For this reason, the people who used to sponsor the school that Jimmy/Snowman goes to, the Martha Graham Academy, have pulled out and the school is now completely out of shape. This is what the scientific enlightenment has brought to this society. It has led to the abandonment of other equally beneficial sectors like the promotion of arts and humanities(Atwood 187).Under such circumstances, the mere ability to introduce science into society is not sufficient if the disruption it is bound to cause cannot be controlled. So the ability to access and use should not make us do it.
Also, the ability to alter life is evidently now in the hands of Crake, as we are told by Atwood. He even knows what to do to move to the next world where only his creatures (Crakers) will survive. He is prepared to give them certain qualities which he thinks should be part of the ideal creatures. “All it takes is the elimination of one generation. One generation of anything. Beetles, trees, microbes, scientists, speakers of French, whatever. Break the link in time between one generation and the next, and its game over forever” (Atwood 223).Equipped with this level of knowledge, Crake moves forward and actually comes up with his design of humans, who are completely different. He has made them with the ability to live without diseases and other issues that he associates with humanities and arts. An example is discrimination on the grounds of race. He makes his creatures in such a way that they are of different heights as well as skin colors. But they are not tuned to exhibit any emotional attachment and they mate like animals. With this background, it comes out that the availability of scientific knowledge does not mean we use it. It even points to the fact that there should be control on who has the knowledge given that some people like Crake, once in possession of this knowledge, can negatively interfere with the system. After the demise of all humans due to the blysspluss, the onetime birth control pill, the Crakers are the majority and Jimmy is very lonely as the only human. Crake has cleared the human race through the interference with only one generation of humans. Therefore having it does not necessarily mean we use it.
Leaving the above aside, there is another negative angle that is associated with the usage of scientific knowledge in the world that Margaret has created in her novel. It is being used by money hungry and greedy individuals to produce some products that are then sold expensively to consumers. An example is the product called NooSkins.It is a discovery of Jimmy/Snowman’s father. It is meant to make people who have grown old regenerate their skins and look young. Jimmy’s mother is skeptical about his intention and he questions the rationale for his product. He at first argues that it is meant for both the haves and the have-nots but when asked about the highly inflated prices, he admits that it is a money hunting venture. She goes ahead to remind him of the time when they used to have morals and ideals. He says he remembers those times. But the biggest impediment is that he cannot afford those ideals or virtues any more. They have obviously become too small in his new greedy self (Atwood 56-57).
Besides the above, it is evident that the usage of the already available knowledge in science such as product modification through genetic engineering is negatively affecting the social set up. The imbalanced access means that a small number of people are utilizing this information to enrich themselves. The rest of the society remains outside the circle and all they have to show for the inventions and discoveries that have been made during their lifetime is poverty. Jimmy and his family stay in the so called compounds, luxurious homes in safe and secure. This is the same for all the rich People who are not ready to mix with the economically challenged city dwellers who are plagued by theft, prostitution and other dangerous crimes (Atwood 27).Positive usage is all about ensuring that all the members of society benefit from whatever knowledge that has been uncovered. But if it has been found and it is use is going to be abused in the manner that Atwood has shown in the novel, then having it does not mean that we go ahead and use it.
Another aspect that stands in the way of using it just because we have it is the abuse of religion and the deification of man. The creatures that come as a result of Craker’s scientific experiments at some point question the origin of their existence. This question is posed to Oryx and she goes ahead to tell them that they were created by a brilliant man called Crake. They then go ahead and begin treating him like a god. This does not make Crake happy since he has always disliked the arts and humanities, areas he associates with worship (Atwood 311).This worship creates confusion for the human beings who believe in creation by one supreme being and not Crake. Given that Crake was determined to clear all humanity as we know it from the face of the earth and replace them with his version of creatures, the presence of Jimmy and Oryx is accidental. But all the same it is going to cause confusion when they see the crakers worshipping Crake. The crakers make it even more dramatic by starting to worship even Jimmy/Snowman as well.
Another concrete opposition to the concept of use if you have is the act of misbehaving with genetic engineering knowledge when dealing with animals. This is especially deplorable when it is done for fun or just fooling around. “There’d been a lot of fooling around in those days: create-an-animal was so much fun, said the guys doing it; it made you feel like God” (Atwood 51).This is a sure way of courting disaster since in the process of fooling around, you cannot be too sure what will come out. Who knows whether the product will be a monster?
On the other hand, it is justifiable to some extent to argue that once you have it, you need to go ahead and use it. If the knowledge that has been discovered is beneficial, why not use it for the benefit of society? Crake is to some extent fed up with the life led by the current breed of humanity. He evidently dislikes the racism and the attack they get from diseases. He has taught about his Crakers and seen the possibility of eliminating these ills (Atwood 305).A race without such pressing problems as racism and diseases would be wonderful. But remember this can only be good if it removes only the bad elements from man. But again it raises the question of who created man and whether or not man has the ticket to alter the way he looks, thinks and acts.
A part from the above, we have been told of how the newly genetically engineered creatures called pigoons are acting as hosts for the growing of organs that are used for transplants. The novel says thus “The goal of the pigoon project was to grow an assortment of foolproof human-tissue organs in a transgenic knockout pig host—organs that would transplant smoothly and avoid rejection, but would also be able to fend of attacks by opportunistic microbes and viruses” (Atwood 22).In such a case, if an individual has a dysfunctional organ and scientific knowledge is used to alter an animal that goes ahead to assist in the cultivation of more new healthy organs that such an individual can use, then this knowledge is evidently helpful. It is in the best interest of humanity that such knowledge be utilized for the elimination or reduction of suffering. This is one of the areas where the concept of if you have it, use it applies.
From the arguments above, it is evident that the issue of scientific discoveries and scientific knowledge such as genetic engineering can be disastrous if used in wrong way and therefore the issue of just using it because you have it will not work. But in some cases it can be helpful and here it is obviously good to use if you have it. But the arguments against are more than those for. As my conclusion on this thorny and controversial issue, I would say that the benefits be weighed and nature of man be completely untouched by these ventures.