Mini-Feature: A World of Identical People

Would the world be a better or worse place if everyone looked the same?

The great horror of humankind is so many of us are ugly. For a species as acutely conscious of comparison and deeply driven by imitation, "aesthetic diversity", sometimes wildly subjective and sometimes less so, inclines us toward a certain hatred of the "limits" imposed on us, unique among the animals, by nature. Some organisms, of course, are wildly more hideous than even the ugliest of humans, but they exist in a sort of hellish bliss, bobbing primitively at the floor of the sea or squiggling with sucker mouths through the intestinal systems of vertebrates, fully occupied by the animal appetites, and with nary a mirror in sight. 

But the lesser animals are not alone in stirring a perverse aesthetic jealousy within us. There are also supernatural entities. Intriguingly, people feel a certain similar envy toward angels, who are often depicted as cosmically gorgeous while at the same time represented in church art as (like the liturgy says) "six winged! many eyed!" Even memes today now play off the amusing contrast between the idealized image of the angel and the whirling alien-like creature of Biblical report, who always begins an interaction with a mere mortal with the introduction "be not afraid." Satan, naturally, would seem to perfectly reflect both the superhuman beauty and the otherworldly inhumanity of the angels, being originally preeminent in Heaven and, in his latter days, being the perfect deceiver. Anyone diabolical knows the depths and the doggedness of human vanity down to its filthiest and most desperate core. 

And yet... even for people who embrace these theological and anthropological conundrums as part of God's gifts of grace, warts and all, it is exceedingly difficult to be quite clear about what efforts to "lift all boats" of biological aesthetics would transgress or debase those gifts. Eugenics still (mostly) has a bad name, but beautiful children and good-looking young adults remain an obsession, and not entirely for cosmetic or commercial reasons. The spectacle of well-formed, well-raised—we used to say "well-bred"—youths rising to claim the mantle of maturity and rule is something that imbues people naturally with hope, relief, a primal sense that our place in the cosmos and in the natural world is hanging together rightly. How far can the envelope be pressed of intentionally developing up a larger and larger class of "well-bred" before we begin turning against our nature, our God, our selves? Before we begin running risks of so doing so severe that they amount on their own to a kind of unlawfulness?

Given the current trajectory of technology, there is no escaping these questions, or the kinds of "advances" that will rush them toward us whatever our degree of preparedness. 

-James Poulos, executive editor of The American Mind

Everyone? If you really mean everyone, then we have to start with men and women: the world would be worse if they looked the same as one another. Life is vastly improved by beauty, and the distinct physical natures of manhood and womanhood are among the most beautiful things in the world. Only two things are really, enduringly sexy, and those things are masculinity and femininity, whether characterologically or physically expressed. To get rid of the specific, distinct characteristics of manliness and womanliness you would either have to make men look like women, make women look like men, or flatten them all out into one big sexless blob. 

Sound familiar? For all their talk of “diversity,” I suspect that the Gender Theory crowd really does think the world would be better if we were all rendered bland, sexless, indistinct. That is why “non-binary” and “gender-fluid” people always end up so painfully unattractive: they are seeking some new category where none exists, so all they can do is shave down the distinguishing features of the category they are actually in. The result is less variety, not more: a muted wash of featureless anonymity. 

Presumably it is hoped that by muddling and blurring the physical distinctions between men and women, we will abolish the prejudices which separate them from one another. And perhaps if we really were all reduced to interchangeable meeples, we would have less pretext to despise and caricature each other. But there are other goods besides efficiency, and greater ideals even than civic harmony. For my money I prefer a world of multicolored, binary-gendered, irreplaceable individuals, and I think God does too. It smacks of that ecstatic abundance, that profusion of form and variety and color for the mere sake of it, which marks His whole creation. 

-Spencer Klavan, associate editor of The American Mind