Prometheus and Biotechnology

Daryl Chambers daryl at
Mon Jun 4 19:01:23 EST 2001

More interesting articles at

Who is this Prometheus fellow and what does he have to do with

Prometheus was a god of Ancient Greek mythology. Son of the titan Lapetus,
he was one of the older Greek Gods. Prometheus won favour with Zeus by
assisting Zeus in his fight against his father Cronos.

Prometheus is best known in Ancient Greek mythology for his affection for
mankind, to whom he gave the gift of fire. The gift of fire not only allowed
mankind to enjoy a medium-rare steak, but was also essential to the
development of civilised society.

Prometheus' gift of fire also brought with it a more sinister ability; out
of the forge came weapons of war and the ability to inflict great suffering
on the other peoples of the Earth.

Many scientist today like to use the Prometheus analogy with respect to
biotechnology. The logic being that while biotechnology has the ability to
do so much good for the human race, it carries with it, not only great
responsibility, but the potential to do great harm.

This might seem like a reasonable analogy, however, it ignores the fact that
Zeus punished Prometheus horribly for his action.

Prometheus was chained to the precipice of a mountain, where, everyday a
giant eagle would appear and eat his liver. Being immortal and therefore
having immortal organs, Prometheus's liver would grow back during the night
to provide a fresh feast for the eagle's return the following day.

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