In the television series Fringe, there is an exchange between two scientists who recognize that they have gone too far in some of their research. Quoted here is a portion of the script as Dr. Walter Bishop (played by John Noble) and Dr. Nicholas Boone (played by Jefferson Mays)1 reflect on past mistakes, souls, redemption, and judgement.
WALTER: Well… that makes one of us. A little memory loss is often kind to the soul.
NICHOLAS BOONE: That a figure of speech? Or do you believe there is such a thing? The soul?
WALTER: There are days when I wish I did. There are days when I wish I didn’t.
NICHOLAS BOONE: I often wake up at night, frightened, with the understanding that there are things man shouldn’t know. That the scientific trespasses I’ve committed…
WALTER: …will one day be judged. Belly and I would often debate this very thing. William Bell. You’ve heard of him?
NICHOLAS BOONE: Well, of course. Founder of Massive Dynamic, richest man in the world.
WALTER: We used to share a lab. Quite a fall, hmm? If indeed there is a soul, we must consider then that there is still time for redemption. We’re not being hauled off to be judged yet, Nicholas.2
Similarly, one of the themes that can be picked out in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake trilogy is a critique of science. The books point us toward questions related to what should and should not be attempted in the scientific endeavour. There are many things that can be attempted; yet, humans must ask, “What are the costs involved in such a path?” To this date we have not been good at analyzing such questions or setting appropriate limits. Yet, “there is still time for redemption.”