Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Dinner Conversation

At the Madras Masala (an excellent restaurant, by the way), on Maynard street, in Ann Arbor:

j7uy5:  You know, it is possible to start with some basic chemicals, containing carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and so forth, and create DNA with any sequence you want.

Kevin: Yes.

j7uy5: So, what if you made a complete set of human chromosomes, took the egg cell from any animal -- it doesn't matter which -- and substituted the synthetic DNA for the DNA that was there already.  Then implant the egg and have it develop.  Would the resulting person have a soul?

Kevin: Well, to the extent that the soul exists, then yes. 

j7uy5: And would there be some magic moment at which the soul came into existence?

Kevin: No, there would be no magic moment.  But it would still happen. 

j7uy5: And at what point in the process would you say that the construct had attained the potential for life?

Kevin: The potential is there already.

j7uy5: Would you like one of these rice cakes?