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FUMARE

Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Still unethical stem cells.


I have a penchant, no strike that, an addiction for news on all things scientific and technological, whether it be news on the lastest smartphone or an article on the proof for dark matter, which is phenomenally exciting, really. I freely admit that this addiction often interferes with my pursuit of higher, more important topics, topics which by right deserve prominence. Nevertheless, I am frail. So frail that I spend much of my free time in one futile, continuing attempt to stay current on technology news.

Such is the case with MIT's Technology Review and their Emerging Technologies Update, a daily update on recent advancements in technology. Recently, I have been struggling with reading this update while not neglecting my everyday duties. This struggle has left me aggravated. Yet, recently I realized that so much of technology news is only incremental at best and inconsequential at worst. The worst happens when the theory upon which the new finding stands is ultimately debunked. After all, modern science is really about the search for truth through theoretical trial and error, with technology merely being its artful application.

While this realization promises to free me from my sisyphean task, until that time I remain on my guard against allowing this vice to overshadow my innate desire for truth. Much of modern science, as I am sure you are aware, is dripping with patronizing condescension and outright disdain for the wisdom of antiquity and revealed truth. So much so, that to wholly embrace modern science, one must renounce certain firmly established truth. I have found so many examples of this phenomenon, yet it still does not cease to amaze me. These scientists devote their lives to crafting theories that will ultimately be used to create some useful artifact, only to deny that a similar process by a more capable Being could have ever resulted in the world around them--rather arrogant and hypocritical. The truth, however, is an object to be loved for its own sake, not to be scorned for the sins of its courtiers.

This eschewal of certain truths by modern scientists can lead to the most abysmal of errors that, were it not for the gravity of them, would render the scientist no more than an object of jest. Case in point: the article, "Ethical Stem Cells?" from Technology Review, in which the author posits that a new method for developing embryonic stem cell lines removes the ethical argument against such research. The method provides for the development of stems cell lines through the cultivation of a single cell which is normally removed from embryos destined for in vitro fertilization so as to provide a means for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), otherwise known as genetic testing. Normally, the single cell is tested, and thereby destroyed. The scientists in the article, though, advocate that the single cell be allowed to divide, thus creating one cell for the genetic test, and one for a stem cell line. The article states that the unfortunate embryo who has had a cell so removed is not harmed by the procedure. (Actually, the article prevaricates: "There is no evidence that children born from PGD embryos are harmed by the procedure." Child born from PGD embryos, as if the embryo was not the child.) The scientist who heads the research actually claims, "There is now no rational ethical argument against stem cell research, now that we can preserve the embryo." (Emphasis added). At least the article's author had enough sense to include a question mark in the title, to signify that such a conclusion is not certain.

Aside from the poor child being one cell short of a proper human embryo, I leave it as an exercise for the reader to explain why this scientist is so profoundly stupid.

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