by Mara Geißen
My first intuition about a book titled Ghost Species was that it would be about ghosts in some way. However, it is not about the living dead haunting somewhere, but much more excitingly about the re-creation of past and forgotten DNA – the topic that occupied me the most while reading the book. The creation of life that no longer exists. Not only animals, like mammoths, but the creation of a Neanderthal kept me very engaged. In short, people are playing God in the book, and I wonder how that is morally feasible. The creation of autonomous, independent, and above all intelligent life seems to be no longer the exclusive province of the divine. Evolutionarily speaking there are a few reasons why for example dinosaurs, mammoths and other human species no longer exist. Natural life evolves, improves, and learns from ‘mistakes.’ It becomes more robust against diseases and adapts to new environmental conditions.
Although Eve is created out of supposedly good intentions, it is rather questionable and interferes with nature. The aim is, of course, to solve a major problem on our planet; global warming. Davis states that the human and the environment no longer make sense and that it is up to human beings to re-engineer the world (cf. p. 19). But should a human-made problem be solved by another intervention in nature? What problems would arise then? In the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World films, for example, you can very clearly see the negative effects of human intervention in nature and in the restoration of extinct living creatures. After that, the dinosaurs that already exist are not ‘enough’, and people start experimenting. How far would the experiment ‘Eve’ go? Eve would most likely be just the beginning of an experimental series, which goes beyond the actual intention of saving the world and possibly ends in mixing the DNAs of different Homo species to create the ‘perfect’ human who doesn’t get sick, who is strong and highly intelligent at the same time.
From the very beginning, Kate wonders if what they are about to do is right. A living person in a laboratory feels morally wrong (Bradley 43). From a scientific point of view, it would be a huge achievement to resurrect Neanderthals though. Kate in particular shows that despite her scientific nature, she thinks the whole project is morally wrong. This is shown, of course, when she kidnaps Eve from the lab and to prevent her from being treated like an experiment and an object. It is also acknowledged, as it is mentioned in the book, that it is definitely a breakthrough in science. No question about it! Nevertheless, one should consider how inseparable human reconstructions behave, feel and weigh the consequences carefully. No human being on earth would probably like to grow up in a laboratory, having to go through all the tests without being allowed to lead a ‘normal’ life. This raises the question of why these people are created at all if they are not allowed to be human.