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Requiem of the Human Soul, by Jeremy Lent
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Dr. Schumacher discovered the possible existence of the soul during his neurographic research on animals.  

It was an awe-inspiring and terrible moment for Dr. Schumacher, because along with this discovery came the realization that the manipulation of cognitive DNA might be destroying the soul...

dr. julius schumacher

Dr. Julius Schumacher (2009-2069) was, in the words of Eusebio: "the developer of neurography, a double Nobel Prize winner and one of the most respected men in the world – until he came up with the theory that manipulating the human genome might, just possibly, extinguish the human soul.   The world didn't want to hear this.   Dr. Schumacher became a prophet to a small number of people, and a pariah to the rest."


Dr. Schumacher pioneered the science of neurography, which permitted him to view the thoughts within a brain.  These images always had smudges (see the picture on the left).  It was only when Julius discovered that the thoughts of genetically enhanced creatures had no more smudges (picture on the right) that he realized that, just possibly, the smudges represented the creature's soul.

Here's how Julius' ex-wife, Alison, tells the story of Julius' discovery of the human soul:

"Things got disturbing for Julius when his team started doing research on the neurographic images of genetically optimized creatures.   They were experimenting with the cognitive DNA of lab animals in the embryo stage, trying to create, for example, a genius rat, a super-aggressive rat or a pacifist rat.   When Julius saw the first images, he was shocked.   No smudges.   He checked his data; had his team re-do their experiments.   Still no smudges.

"Slowly, achingly, an awesome and awful hypothesis occurred to Julius.   It was a hypothesis so terrible, so dreadful, he didn't breathe a word of it, not just to me, but to anyone in his team.   He could barely even consider it himself.   What if the smudges represented something innate in the creature, something primordial, something that had never yet been identified by science, something that was an integral part of the creature's consciousness?   And what if the manipulation of the creature's DNA destroyed the delicate underpinning of the unknowable source of this primordial existence?   In short, what if the smudges were images of the creature's soul?   And Julius' lifetime work was succeeding in destroying the soul?"


When Julius made this discovery, he left his work behind and spent years traveling the world, seeking out the few places where indigenous humans still lived, in "a search for the mystery of the human soul."   Then, returning to civilization, Julius published his theory of the human soul.  

Alison summarizes for us his theory of how the human soul emerges from the dynamics of our DNA:

"Julius described his discovery of the neurographic smudges and how they vanished when a creature's DNA was re-engineered, explaining his belief that the creature's soul was being destroyed by genetic manipulation of the embryo.  

Julius explained how only 3% of human DNA was known to control the codes for creating the proteins that make up our bodies.   This was the DNA defined in the human genome.   The remaining three billion bases of DNA, the vast bulk of our human biological structure, he theorized, was a relic of earlier genes that had once controlled the codes for proteins but that evolution had made biologically irrelevant.   

But, he wrote, that didn't make them irrelevant to the structure of the human soul.   When genetic engineers changed the genes within a human embryo, Julius hypothesized that they altered the sensitive dynamic between the bases of the other 97% of DNA and, when they did so, the human soul, the innate harmony of the relationship between all these ancient DNA structures, could evaporate."



Julius' chief research assistant, Dr. Brian Chang, carried on Julius' work after he died.   Here's how Brian describes Julius' vision of the soul and evolution are linked up, in a gigantic symphony of nature:

"You know Julius' analogy about the soul, how it's like an orchestra?" Brian started speaking after lots of humming and herring and clearing his throat nervously.   "You know, how over five hundred million years of evolution, as life on earth began branching off into plants, reptiles, mammals, a shared harmony existed between the DNA of every living object on earth?"

"And as creatures became more diverse, the harmony between their DNA and the DNA of other creatures became more complex, but it never disappeared."   Brian's voice was taking on more authority with every sentence.   "Julius theorized that the soul is not something that can ever be tangibly identified, but it exists as a series of relationships, patterns, vibrations, between different elements of a living creature's DNA and RNA."



Brian explains that, in Julius' vision, the soul was immortal, but not in a way we're used to thinking of the immortal soul in monotheistic traditions.   For Julius, the soul's immortality was tied to its origin in the Earth:

"So Julius saw the origins of the soul to be the Earth itself.   The relationship between man and the Earth is integral to the existence of the soul.   In fact, Julius believed this was the basis for the immortality of the soul."

Brian was staring straight ahead, intently, into space.   "If… if Julius is right, then…" Brian paused for a moment.   His voice became more solemn.

"If Julius is right, then right now his soul – that dynamic interaction of billions of strands of DNA within him – didn't die but has been transformed into billions of separate interactions now re-forming with other DNA belonging to other forms of life on Earth.   So his undivided soul no longer exists as it did, but its component parts are helping create new souls in new creatures."

"That's what he meant with his orchestra analogy.   Now that Julius is dead, his own symphony no longer exists.   But each note of his symphony continues to exist and joins up with other notes on the Earth to become part of billions of other symphonies, for as long as life continues on this Earth."

how genetic engineering might destroy the music of the soul 

It's a beautiful image of the human soul.   But one that's terribly fragile.   Brian continues explaining Julius' fear that genetic engineering might put at end to the music of the human soul, like taking the curves out of the instruments of an orchestra:

"I've thought a lot about that orchestra analogy.   Julius used to talk with me about it.   He used to say that prenatal genetic engineering was like trying to create a square violin or a rectangular flute – you'd make the instruments fit better in a box but you'd kill the music.   And he may be right."

"The thing is, think about an orchestra.   If you eliminate one of the lesser violins, you'd hardly notice the difference in the symphony.   But if it's a piano concerto and you destroy the piano, the music's over."

© 2010 Jeremy Lent. All Rights Reserved.

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