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from the January 2012 issue

God’s Obituary

Deceased yesterday morning, aged ninety-one, the English scientist Allan J. Winchmaster, the father of Genetic Architecture, better known as God. Winchmaster was found dead in the easy chair of his country home, in the area surrounding Bristol, England. The cause of death has yet to be determined. Winchmaster suffered from stomach cancer, but there is the suspicion that he may have been poisoned. In recent decades, the scientist lived with constant death threats. His body was cremated in a private ceremony that brought together only relatives and close friends.

A graduate in biosciences, Winchmaster became famous in the international scientific community by developing the concept of genetic architecture, which is to genetic engineering what architecture is to civil engineering. Or rather: the genetic architect “designs” new living beings, while the genetic engineer must identify the sequence of genes and the ideal genetic expression to generate, in the laboratory, this being. Winchmaster's first creation, dubbed “the pipe rat,” consisted of a type of rat capable of entering the long pipes of industrial complexes and subsisting on the most varied residual matter. The research was funded by Petroleum United. The pipe rats had suction cups on their feet, which allowed them to scale the insides of incredibly long pipes, as well as skin capable of resisting high temperatures. What's more, they were anaerobic: they did not require oxygen to breathe. The experiment's success led Winchmaster to publish an article in the scientific magazine Today Science, in which he first used the term “genetic architecture.”

The article caused an uproar. Religious leaders condemned the concept of genetic architecture and accused Winchmaster of “playing God.” The scientist was considered persona non grata by the Vatican and in several fundamentalist Islamic countries. Members of the Jihad Alkassum went as far to say that Winchmaster would be killed if he were to set foot in any Muslim nation. At the time, the scientist ignored the criticisms and, in a provocative tone, was even inspired to christen as “God Land” his office of genetic architecture, the first of its kind in the world. Friends began calling Winchmaster “God.” The nickname stuck. The scientist himself, known for being a fervent atheist, even had the word God printed on his business card.

All joking aside, God was always well aware of the inherent risks to the new science he had invented. For this reason, only months after that first article on the pipe rats, he published another in which he listed what he called the “Basic Principles Toward Responsible Genetic Architecture.” It was, in effect, a series of rules so that future creations of genetic architects would not create worldwide ecological disequilibrium or some other such catastrophe. The first rule is the principle of infertility or of nonmultiplication: every being designed by genetic architecture should be sterile to avoid its reproduction and the loss of control. The second principle is that of controlled intelligence: it is forbidden to create beings that have an intelligence close to that of Homo sapiens. The third and final principle is that of eternal captivity: every being created by genetic architecture should be under the permanent observation of its owners. After a suggestion by God, such beings soon came implanted with GPS chips. The principles set forth by God served as the basis for the International Treaty on Genetic Architecture (ITGA), signed by 115 countries in October of 2066.

After God, many other scientists became genetic architects and opened their own offices, but none was able to attain the same success and prestige as God Land, which created beings for the most diverse ends. At the height of its success, in the 60s, it employed one hundred and fifty active genetic architects. The Moglows were the most famous among the creations of God Land. The tiny bears were the hottest Christmas sensation of '65 and '66, having been the first beings produced by genetic architecture on an industrial scale. More than ten million units were sold throughout the entire world, a record that remains unbroken.

In recent decades, however, the countless incidents involving experiments of genetic architecture had brought God much unhappiness. Close friends suspected that the displeasure of seeing the misuse of his science contributed to the onset of cancer. Soon after learning about the first violations of the ITGA and of experiments that simply got out of control, God initiated a worldwide ethical campaign that called for more controls upon genetic architecture. Yet not even with this was he able to avoid other disasters. One of the more well-known was that of the Lemgruber frogs that, because of an engineering error, were produced with the capacity to reproduce, generating a terrible ecological imbalance in the swamps of the United States in the summer of '68. It is worth noting as well the terrible incident with the Garfosas, which caused the deaths of dozens of thousands of people in northern Africa after the drought of '69. It was upon God's suggestion that, during the Fifth International Congress of Genetic Architecture, in 2071, the governments of various countries created national committees composed of scientists specialized and trained to respond in the event of an ecological crisis provoked by genetic architecture.

Nothing irritated God more than the use of his science for military ends. He had been opposed to the OKWs (Orthopedic Kamikaze Warriors) from the beginning. Alleging a violation of the principle of controlled intelligence, God was able to prevent the manufacture of these frightening soldiers in the ITGA signatory countries, but he couldn't convince other nations. Employed during the Eight Day War, the OKWs massacred millions of people in Southeast Asia. In a recent article, God wrote of the risk of the OKWs turning on their owners, as they possess an IQ above the limit determined by the ITGA.

Curiously, in recent years, God became the most outspoken critic of his own work. It was he who first denounced the existance of a genetic cold war. The accusations that the United States, Germany, Russia, India, and China maintained secret laboratories with projects on terrible beings for bellicose ends were never proven, but fed countless rumors. 

In a bombastic interview with Today Science four years ago, God publicly recognized the error of having created genetic architecture, even with the ethical principles that might keep it under control. “It was naïveté on my part to believe that human beings would be capable of adhering to some limit. Controlling the creation is easy. Difficult is controlling the creator,” he lamented. God came to argue that genetic architecture should not be a science for use on the open market, but, rather, controlled by governments for use on nonprofit projects and with pacific objectives. As an example, God closed God Land and called upon other famous genetic architects to do the same with their offices.

The abrupt change of position earned God more enemies. As if the frequent death threats he received from religious radicals in recent decades were not enough, he began to be persecuted also by the genetic engineering industry, a sector that in the past he had fomented. The British secret service even devised a plan, at the request of some of the largest laboratories in Europe, to have him killed.

To escape from his enemies, God came to live as a nomad, constantly changing address. He spoke less and less to newspapers. He appeared occasionally in the media, always with a tirade, ever more rancorous, against genetic architecture. The routine of moving, however, diminished because of the stomach cancer and God spent more time in his country home in Bristol, until found dead yesterday.

God left behind three children: Lucy, Yolanda, and a “late-comer,” Thor, born when God was seventy-five and already living as a nomad to avoid the attempts on his life. There are rumors that Thor is, in truth, a creation of genetic architecture. They say the young man, now sixteen years of age, has an above-average intelligence and a beauty that in no way recalls his father. God always denied that Thor was a genetic experiment, although he did refuse to submit to DNA tests that could prove paternity. There are rumors in the scientific community that Thor is the first specimen of a new race of human beings with genes that heighten intelligence, solidarity, and kindness, while at the same time reducing traits such as ambition and selfishness. He would be God's final creation of genetic architecture. A source close to the Winchmaster family says that, before dying, God instructed Thor to order the clandestine production of these new human beings, thus breaking all the principles of the ITGA. God's dying wish was to change the nature of Man, and, in this way, improve life on the planet. The son of God was contacted by this newspaper, but preferred not to be interviewed.

“Obituário de Deus” © Fernando Paiva. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2012 by Brent Alan James. All rights reserved.

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