The scientist, in some sense, has taken the place of the magician in some of our modern literature, of the one willing to go too far, to seek out powers forbidden or knowledge that corrupts the ones who possess it. We recognize on some level that there are limits, that though knowledge and its pursuit is a good thing, there are some things human eyes should not see, powers human beings ought not to possess.
On some level, I think people know this, even if subconsciously, even if subrationally. There's a point in a conversation where people begin to get spooked, where perhaps they may get the first hint of corruption, of disease, of madness or perversion, of danger. Something is wrong with that man, we may think; something's not healthy here.
Hence the fascination in pop culture with Sherlock Holmes (particularly as played by Benedict Cumberbatch), with the brilliant but unpredictable, possibly quite dangerous, even if inadvertently dangerous Sherlock. In A Study in Scarlet, he's described thusly:
I could imagine his giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of malevolence, you understand, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate idea of the effects. To do him justice, I think he would take it himself with the same readiness.
And we all look with fascination at such a character, thinking all the while that we'd never want to be around someone quite so dangerous in real life.
But when are we? Would we know? When do we recognize Frankenstein in our midst?
Not the monster himself; the scientist. (But then again, perhaps the scientist is the monster, and Frankenstein's monster really the man.)
When do we say, "Science is going/has gone too far?"
What are the limits of acceptable scientific manipulation of nature?
Do we today acknowledge any? Is the Church the last bastion of bioethics, shouting into the winds of change an unheeded warning? Or does the culture, the zeitgest, hold certain unchallenged assumptions while bioethicists and healthcare professionals labor quietly behind the scenes for a saner, more stable way of proceeding? Are the myths of obscurantist religion standing against the right and good progress of science only afloat in the popular culture, and laughed out of the room in serious conversations?
Academia is a mixed bag; we are all reaping the whirlwind of the dictatorship of relativism right now, and the hurricane of the myths of the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and modernism. Much is obscure that should be clear, "and some things that should not have been forgotten were lost," to borrow a phrase from Galadriel.
So we don't see as clearly as we should. We have to defend certain truths that should not need defending, truths such as the dignity of the human person, the inalienable rights of all mankind, the good stewardship we owe to the created order, and more--creation as a gift, not as something subject to endless manipulation, for one.
Science is a great gift from God, as is the existence of a universe in which technology can be so powerful. Minds that are adequate to understand reality; the capacity to teach and to learn; the use of language and mathematics to convey wonders--all of this is good, given by a wise and loving Creator. Modern medicine is awesome, and growing greater all the time. And yet, though our stories and entertainments ask many of the right questions, do we notice that there are boundaries? Do we listen? Do we recognize the warnings?