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Miscellaneous meanderings and philosophical ramblings. The title from a spiral notebook I used to jot down my thoughts on religion and other matters some years ago. I like to write, think and express my views on various issues. Robust discussion is welcome.

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"Lan astaslem."
I will not submit. I will not surrender.
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Monday, December 11, 2006

Ideology vs Science

Much criticism has been made about people of faith standing in the way of science when it comes to embryonic stem cell (ESC) research. The claim being that, if allowed, religious ideology will halt the progress of science and all the benefits we can experience from future discoveries.Sadly, I have to concede this has actually happened. I cannot deny that ideology has already oppressed science, and replaced it with "junk" science. Until this decision was reversed, scientific advancement in this area of study was seriously undermined.

Considering that at least one state (California) has recently voted to fund embryonic stem cell research, some may be thinking of the current opposition by many Christian groups. But the last time I checked, Joseph Stalin was not a Christian and Marxism was not a theistic religion.

The history from Wikipedia:

Between 1934 and 1940, under Lysenko's admonitions and with Stalin's blessings, many geneticists were executed (including Agol, Levit, and Nadson) or sent to labor camps. The famous Soviet geneticist Nikolai Vavilov, was arrested in 1940 and died in prison in 1943. Genetics was stigmatized as a "bourgeois science" or "fascist science" (due to the fact that fascists — particularly the Nazis in Germany — embraced genetics and attempted to use it to justify their theories on eugenics and the master race). Some Soviet geneticists, however, survived and continued to work in genetics, dangerous as it was.

In 1948, genetics was officially declared "a bourgeois pseudoscience"; all geneticists were fired from work (some were also arrested), and all genetic research was discontinued. Nikita Khrushchev also valued Lysenko as a great scientist, and the taboo on genetics continued (but all geneticists were released or rehabilitated posthumously). Only in the middle of the 1960s was it waived. As a consequence, Lysenkoism caused serious, long-term harm to Soviet biology. It represented a serious failure of the early Soviet leadership to find real solutions to agricultural problems, allowing their system to be hijacked by a charlatan — at the expense of many human lives. Lysenkoism also spread to China, where it continued long after it was eventually denounced by the Soviets.

The point is that any ideology can unjustly deny progress. But we must also not forget that just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should. There are significant moral issues to be considered with ESC and facts concerning the actual success with adult stem cells which do not have the moral problems.

That some rely on appeals to the equivalent of vaporware and act as if only the ideology of religious people can be a problem, while also ignoring the very real moral issues of the matter, temps one to draw conclusions about their character that are hardly positive. This matter has important ramifications in a number of areas and such tactics only serve to cloud the real issues involved and do no great service to society.

This is not merely religion against science. That is far too simplistic and also ignores actual history. Portraying those who are against ESC as being against progress, conveniently glosses over the very real successes of adult stem cells. It's not that we want to halt science and the benefits that can be derived, but that we see a better way. A way that prevents, or at least delays once again, society from descending into a moral depravity that makes those temporarily most helpless to us, as nothing but a means to our satisfaction, that is successful only by ending their life. Should we ignore the moral dimension and continue on this path, what good is the faint possibility of curing any and every disease, if our spirit is so diseased from within by our own lusts for comfort?


Filed under: Abortion -- Culture -- Politics

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