A prominent microbiologist makes one of today's most relevant scientific debates accessible to the general public. In this eloquent and absorbing analysis, Silver argues that biotechnology provides the greatest hope for alleviating human suffering and sustaining a vibrant biosphere. Yet it remains one of the most controversial of all modern sciences because it challenges Western beliefs in a Supreme Being or pre-ordained Master Plan. Although Silver convincingly reveals the way that both religious and secular notions of spirituality inhibit scientific innovation against the better interests of humankind, he offers not only an impassioned critique of our present, but also a humanistic and hopeful vision of the future.

In this brilliant, provocative, and necessary book, Lee M. Silver takes a cautiously optimistic look at the scientific advances that will allow us to engineer life in ways that were unimaginable just a few short years ago—indeed, in ways that go far beyond cloning. Could a child have two genetic mothers? Will parents someday soon be able to choose not only the physical characteristics of their children-to-be, but their personalities and talents as well? Will genetic enhancement ultimately lead to the dominance of a “genetic elite?” In clear, engaging, and accessible prose, Silver demystifies the science behind these and other thrilling and frightening new possibilities, in a book that is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the hopes and dilemmas of the American family in the twenty-first century.