Remaking Eden Redux
How Genetic Engineering and Cloning will Transform the American Family
Professor of molecular biology and public policy in the Woodrow Wilson school of Public & International Affairs at Princeton University
Lee Silver photo
Princeton teaching
The publication of Remaking Eden in 1997 represented a watershed event in alerting the public to the enormous implications of emergent genetic and reproductive technologies for the future of the human species. Published in 16 languages, Remaking Eden introduced the concept of "reprogenetics": the combined use of reproductive and genetic technologies not for the treatment of an existing medical affliction, but to enable prospective parents to choose which genes their children receive. Many potential reprogenetic applications could be viewed in a positive light when considered in terms of their impact on individual health and well-being. However, Remaking Eden also spins out a speculative scenario of a dystopic future -- with the divergence of genetically enhanced GenRich and unenhanced naturals into separate species -- as a direct but unintended consequence of human nature and the principles of liberal democracy.
Over the decade since its publication, Remaking Eden has elicited an enormous amount of controversy in the varied realms of science, technology, religion, and politics.  The wisdom of employing reprogenetics in any form, the possibility of human self-evolution, and the likelihood of species divergence have all been critiqued from each of these perspectives. No definitive answers are yet available.  However, with the passage of ten years, it is possible to evaluate the accuracy of some of the speculative scenarios and future trends that were presented.  in some instances, rates of technological progress and societal acceptance were clearly overestimated.  Yet in other specific instances, scientific progress and knowledge have moved forward even faster than anticipated.   In the near future, this site will provide a detailed scorecard on hits and misses, along with book reviews, photographs, essays and links to other sites discussing Remaking Eden and reprogenetics.
Passages from reviews of the 1997 Edition of Remaking Eden
"No question is too speculative, remote or absurd for Silver . . . He entertains even the wildest and most speculative notions because -- as he argues persuasively -- the future is already here." Paul Raeburn, The New York Times
"Mr. Silver is as good on the science as on the social situation. His descriptions . . . are lucid and complete . . . Even those interested only in understanding current techniques of in vitro fertilization will find the early chapters of  Remaking Eden valuable."  Will St. John, Knight-Ridder News Service
"In Remaking Eden Lee Silver . . . gives us a panoramic view of molecular genetics, sexual reproduction, in vitro fertilization, and cloning. His book is an outstanding achievement. Silver addresses the uninitiated with clear writing and straightforward explanations of complex phenomena, but experts, especially ethicists and policy makers, will also profit from reading this book. Any physician should find this book remarkable. Silver analyzes the issues soberly, often with provocative examples. . . Silver's approach to ethical issues related to cloning and in vitro fertilization is refreshing: no nonsense, no pontificating, just the facts, just common sense. . . the imperative is to use our knowledge with the compassion advocated by Lee Silver."  Robert S. Schwartz, M.D., The New England Journal of Medicine  (Click here for complete review)
Lee Silver . . . discusses the pros and cons of cloning in detail in his remarkable book  Remaking Eden." Alasdair Palmer, Chicago Sun-Times
"Where can we expect this new era to take us? Lee M. Silver . . . has some answers, and if you think you are opposed to cloning human beings, be prepared for a major reassessment. . . I don't doubt Silver is correct."  Lynn Yarris, San Jose Mercury News
"Remaking Eden" is a thought-provoking examination of where rapid-paced technological advances are taking us, raising issues and consciousness along the way.  Cheryl Kerfeld, The San Diego Union-Tribune
Unsettling glimpses of a conjectured future [are] presents as fictional anecdotes within the detailed discussion of hard facts that make up most of his book. The anecdotes are neither frivolous nor unbelievable. . . each flight of fancy is a logical extrapolation from today's scientific realities. He outlines those realities in clear language that offers a lot of education and food for thought.  Harold Schmeck, Neiman Reports (Neiman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University)
"[Remaking Eden] paints a scenario in which the human race actively shapes its own genetic future. [Silver] shows both the thrilling opportunities this presents, and the chilling dangers."  Ben Bova, The Hartford Courant
"Silver's argument will not persuade many who are religious and will be offended by the spectacle of parents playing God. . .   But a lot of parents, religious and otherwise, will confront the choice between average kids and great kids, and go for the great kids.  It is hard to believe they can be stopped."  Dan Seligman, Forbes Magazine
"Remaking Eden takes the reader on a fascinating tour of new techniques in human reproductive biology."  Michael Yudell, Natural History
"If the prepared mind provides the best insurance against the vicissitudes of change, then Silver’s book will help you to prepare."  Jeremiah P. Ostriker, Lingua Franca
"It is a great pleasure to report that Lee M. Silver’s book about the genetic engineering of humans is very good  indeed. He has first-hand knowledge of his subject and writes clearly and skilfully."  John Cairns, Nature
"People in modern secular societies . . . feel in their bones that cloning and its ilk are wrong, but have no vocabulary or formal structure to express those feelings; which is why they fall back on Saddam Hussein and speculate with cod psychology that cloned children might feel unhappy.  Silver, rationalist and scientist that he is, runs rings around such misgivings."  Colin Tudge, New Statesman (London)
"Silver, a Princeton biologist, is an excellent guide to . . . the many procedures which prospective parents may now adopt to tip the odds in the reproductive lottery in their offspring's favour."  Jon Turney, New Scientist (London)
"Remaking Eden turns out to be an authoritative and thought-provoking analysis by a scientist who is not only at the forefront of research in this field, but also one of the growing group of scientists who actively engage in public debate. We have great need of them."  Deirdre Janson-Smith, Sunday Telegraph (London)
"Silver tiptoes through the moral minefield of human reproductive science and genetics as if the Angel of Mons was guiding him. His trick is to use science fiction to present the more controversial points. The factual body of the book details the seemingly harmless, extraordinary, and often beneficial, steps in reproductive science which . . . have been leading inexorably to some of the greatest moral dilemmas mankind has ever faced."  Moyra Bremner, Financial Times (London)
"I think Lee Silver's future is certain to happen."  Graham Philips, The Sunday Star-Times (New Zealand)
"Along with his strong dose of pragmatism, Silver brings to the subject imaginative and persuasive speculation."  Stewart Brand, Global Business Network Book Club
"Remaking Eden . . . is a stimulating and thought-provoking analysis of the many possibilities presented by the emerging technologies."  John Meakin, Vision -- Journal for a New World 
"Mr. Silver's easy-going, breezy, Discovery Channel writing style makes his book even more disturbing. He even throws Bible verses around in chapter headers and bounces his thoughts off Vatican pronouncements on bioethics. Carl Saganic riffs aside, we can't ignore his summary of the latest developments in his field."  Chris Stamper, World Magazine (Fundamentalist Christian biweekly)
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