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Stem Cells: Can't we compromise?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060824/ap_on_sc/stem_cells

Gist of the article: there is a new technique that can make embryonic stem cells without killing embryos. Essentially, they take one cell from the embryo and use that to start a viable line. Everyone should be happy, right?

Oh, I gave partisanship too much credit.

The pro-stem cell people are whining about how this method is not as efficient as ysing the whole embryo. I think they should just get over it; there will be enough to use efficiently.

The anti-stem cell people are whining about how there MIGHT be unknown effects to the embryo. Never mind that the embryo still lives. Any adverse effects are unlikely. They also say it still MIGHT be used to make a full human, which even less likely. This is because cloning is not the aim of stemm cell research: it is to be used on existing humans, and even the most ardent stem cell supporter usually abhors cloning. Again, get over yourself and enact needed safeguards against cloning and let the rest of the research be used for good.

And of couse the Catholic Church just hates en vitro fertilization all together. This is because they still cling to their outdated and fallacious idea of human sexuality, which ignores the TRUTH of evolution, sexuality, biology, neurology, logic, and just about every other thing that we have discovered since the middle ages, when their view might have been viable. Why they keep ignoring the fact that sex in primates has evolved to where it can be used for EITHER procreation or bonding or both, and the fact that reason is a mortal faculty of the brain, is beyond me. That isn't faith...that's truthiness.

So everyone needs to get over themselves and just focus on this new technique; it accomplishes the end goals of both sides.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
atomicat
Aug. 24th, 2006 04:45 am (UTC)
It gets worse...
http://www.newscientist.com/blog/shortsharpscience/2006/08/one-woman-two-souls.html

I wish the people who are so opposed to stem cell research were only half as concerned about starving kids.
ihuitl
Aug. 24th, 2006 05:27 am (UTC)
A fusion of two embryos? Fascinating! Ironically, I think that life DOES begin at conception myself, although such life is far more malleable and dynamic than other religious people claim.

The issue is its material nature: I have no problem with dfferentiating between the spirit and biological life, which while sacred, is still mortal. The Egyptians called the corpse the 'khat' and the spiritual essence the 'akhu'. Thus I can both accept a non-local spiritual essence, and the biological and chemical basis of living bodies.

Christianity, however, believes in the 'resurrection of the body' wherein at judgement day their own present physical bodies will be restored, perfected, and sent to heaven in one package. In fact, the word for spirit in Paul's epistles ('pneumatikos') and the hebrew word for soul ('ruach') both mean 'breath' or 'air'. This implies that spirit and biological life are inseparably linked, as opposed to spirit simply having to incarnate within the confines of biological life. I think this flies in the face of our recent discoveries, and does both spirit and body a disservice.
atomicat
Aug. 24th, 2006 05:49 am (UTC)
Well, it's all mythology to me. I'm waiting for more data. Wanna know the real answer? Well, we all find out eventually. For now, I won't worry about it.
(Deleted comment)
ihuitl
Aug. 25th, 2006 02:32 am (UTC)
"Our decisions, thoughts, and responses leave in imprint upon the part of the (being) which lasts forever. Given that it was a vital instrument for determining the destiny of the soul, I don't think that its unreasonable to give it place of honor at The End."

I do not deny that the body is sacred (I note that above), but that its physical life processes are not to be confused with the spiritual essence. I would say that our actions, though, leave the main imprint on the being. Memory, reason, and emotion are just as mortal as the rest of the body. I interpet this to mean that the spirit (like the divine it is an emanation of) is BEYOND mind, emotion and memory...which is actually a rather uplifting concept.

"To say that biological life and the soul are unified totally would contradict the immortality of the spirit, so I doubt that this is how the scripture is supposed to be conveyed."

If christianity contradicts itself, that it not my problem :P Being serious, the idea of resurrection of one's physical body has been a belief since Christianity's start. In fact that is why cadaver dissection and cremation were looked upon with such disapproval: according to even the church, such things were against this eventual resurrection. Eventually, ones corpse would rejoin his spirit. Obviously, this notion is not a strictly believed as it once was.

"The ancient Egyptians also thought the body deserved respect after death, correct? Why else would they have gone through the trouble of preservation? "

The 'spiritual body' which would be given to the dead was called the 'sahu'. The 'khat' (corpse) was mainly thought of as a vehicle through which the spirit of the dead person could interact with the living in a more efficient manner. The analogy is akin to the bones of saints having certain power in catholicism.
(Deleted comment)
ihuitl
Aug. 25th, 2006 03:27 am (UTC)
I think the soul IS altered by actions, but to the extent it becomes in tune or out of balance with Ma'at (conformity to the universal balance, order, and righteoussness). Hence its resonance and our bodily behaviors manifest together in our actions, which I agree does form the interface between the two. Although I would say that the soul is still causally superior in the end; it originates ultimate action, which is why it is the thing ultimately judged.

In regard to the christian idea of the body, I was just using the view I get from many traditional catholic theologians and certain protestants. With any denomination of christianity, individual mileage varies when it comes to interpeting certain things.

Ultimately, decomposition is a perfectly valid method of corpse disposal. The egyptian method is not unlike saving the ashes of a loved one in an urn on the mantle.
brown_wolf
Aug. 24th, 2006 11:08 pm (UTC)
You hit the nail in the head here.

Religious groups hate change.
Pro-lifers are the Republican version of P.E.T.A half the time.
And the Pro-Stem-cell research just wants to have everything their way.
(Anonymous)
Aug. 28th, 2006 12:30 pm (UTC)
The pro-stem cell people are whining about how this method is not as efficient as using the whole em
There's an early Orson Scott Card fantasy novel called Hart's Hope. He uses its origins as a case study in his non-fiction Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The magic system in Hart's Hope is based on magic being powered by life-force energy. A sorcerer puts some of his own -- or anothers -- life-force into the spell to power it. The more life-force is drained, the more powerful the magic. So who has the most life-force to expend to power the magic? A sacrificed infant, with the most unlived life ahead of them -- in the novel's backstory, this is how the main bad guy (an evil sorceress queen) sets herself up as an almost-a-goddess Dark Lord.

Well, who has more unlived life than a newborn infant? An embryo, of course. Since all the things stem-cell advocates promise (cripples walking, senility and retardation reversed, immortality with forever youth and virility) would require some really big juju to pull off, they HAVE to use -- and use up -- human embryos. They're using the Hart's Hope magic system without admitting to it.

P.S. The Catholic Church is NOT hostile to evolution, on the basis of preponderance of physical evidence. The only thing the Catholic Church reserves is special "ensoulment" of the first two true humans (traditionally Adam & Eve) as the transition between pre-human and human to allow for the doctrine of The Fall.

It's the Evangelical Protestants who have made Young Earth Creationism more important to their faith than Christ Himself.
ihuitl
Aug. 28th, 2006 12:59 pm (UTC)
Re: The pro-stem cell people are whining about how this method is not as efficient as using the whol
"Since all the things stem-cell advocates promise (cripples walking, senility and retardation reversed, immortality with forever youth and virility) would require some really big juju to pull off, they HAVE to use -- and use up -- human embryos. They're using the Hart's Hope magic system without admitting to it."

I disagree...I think the new techniques that preserve embryos while using their stem cells are perfectly adequate for all the things stem cell researchers hope for. The main and only complaint from some was that it was not as efficient as destroying the embryo: namely, you harvest less, so it take a bit more time. I'm comfortable with that, and the extra time will likely not be very significant, given the propensity of science to do amazing things.
the_brad
Sep. 27th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC)
FYI
Stem cells can also be extracted from the umbilical cord, without damaging the fetus at all.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )