Wednesday, December 14, 2005

 

Divine Judgment?

I would like to refer back to the news article on Pat Robertson (11/14 blog post). I do not think that it is biblical for anyone today to foretell divine judgment on a city (which is basically what he did, except he did not say that it was certain, it was just something he thought MIGHT happen). I suppose He may get this concept from the Old Testament of the Bible. For example, Jonah had to go to the city of Ninevah to foretell them of the wrath of God which would come upon the city because of the people’s “evil way”. When the city of Ninevah sincerely humbled themselves, prayed to God, and changed their wicked ways, God did have mercy on them and did not destroy them.

However, we must see the contrast of Jonah and the situation at hand. Jonah was told specifically by God to go and give this warning to the city of Ninevah. God does not speak audibly today, telling people to do this sort of thing. Without a direct command such as Jonah received, no one can say who God will punish (on earth) for rejecting Him. We do not fully understand His ways. Many people have rejected God in many different ways, yet have had earthly success. Sometimes God will bring people to nothing on earth because they act against Him, but other times, justice is not done until after we die. Eternal Judgment is the only punishment we CAN be certain of and be warned of, because it is clearly spoken of in the Bible. Matthew 25:46 speaks of “eternal punishment.” The Bible tells us why we will receive this punishment: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23, 6:23). We all deserve Divine punishment because we have all disobeyed God. But the very next part of Romans 6:23 says, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Only those who accept God’s gift of righteousness in Christ alone will avoid their deserved punishment. In agreement with one’s belief, both in God and in Christ’s sacrifice which covers over their rejection of God, one who has accepted Him will likewise believe all that God has said in the Bible, and begin to obey Him. It follows that such a person should believe the history of the earth that God has put forth in the Bible.

The previous few statements probably show why Robertson thinks that the opponents of ID have rejected God. Evolution cannot truly be matched up with the Bible, so believing evolution rather than the Bible is to say that God’s Word is faulty. This is not to say that supporters of ID are all accepting God. An Associated Press article from September 30, 2005 (on MSNBC website) said that “Intelligent-design supporters argue that life on Earth was the product of an unidentified intelligent force.” Clearly, not all ID supporters believe in the Christian God and accept Christ as their Savior. Belief in ID does not equal salvation. ID is a scientific theory which also fits the Bible’s account of Creation. That is why Christians should support ID, and why rejecting ID does oppose God.

Regarding God showing Himself in nature, the Bible says:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they know God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:18-25)

This passage, though written nearly 2000 years ago, still sheds light on what we see today. All of us have been caught up in such disobedience to God, but thankfully we have the chance to be forgiven in Jesus Christ.

 

The Consideration of ID as a Scientific Possibility

Thank you for directing us to the articles on Pat Robertson and Rick Sternberg (11/14). They are very interesting and I think that both issues should have been covered by the media. However, the one about Sternberg should have been reported even more than the one on Robinson (which was highly covered). The one about Sternberg seems more novel (as you implied) and more secretive – something that the public would probably not be aware of or even guess. However, the Robertson article was also important, allowing the public to consider that his statement might be true.

It is horrible that the Smithsonian could do all of the things stated in the article to such an editor as Sternberg. Sternberg wasn’t saying that the Smithsonian’s scientific viewpoint is wrong – all he did was publish a credible article espousing another fully possible scientific theory, which he himself does not even agree with. Intelligent Design is possible from a physical standpoint because we see all of the intricate creatures of this world and their equally intricate relationships, which are hard to imagine having “worked out” all on their own. Additional support for the idea that Intelligent Design is a true scientific possibility is the fact that (as far as I can remember) Dr. Michael Behe, one of the main scientists backing up ID theory, is not religiously affiliated. Therefore he does not have religious beliefs as a motive for espousing ID. Scientists should consider all possibilities, because the purpose of science should be to seek the truth about the physical world, whether or not it is what we expect or desire to find.

Intelligent Design and evolution are both possible systems of creation, as far as science is concerned. Neither has been scientifically proven, so I strongly believe that schools should teach both theories. This would not go against any religious or non-religious teaching that parents want to give at home. Parents can tell their children which view they believe is correct, but children should be taught about both because as far as scientific proof goes, either theory could be the truth. On the contrary, teaching that evolution is a fact, even though it is not proven, does oppose freedom of religion. Someone who learns evolution as a “belief” may more easily come to believe that their religion is not true because it does not support evolution. Therefore, when kids come home to parents with religious beliefs contrary to evolution, who wish to teach their children what they believe, the parents have no ground to stand on – even though the “ground” does exist. We must know all that scientists have observed, because the true “religion” does match what is observed - there is only one truth. I believe that God, the “Intelligent Designer,” has created everything in complexity so that we can observe His Majesty.

Friday, December 09, 2005

 

"Embryo is or isn't human?" Doesn't matter

JOURNAL ASSIGNMENT 6
In the technological age of flat screens, jet planes, and heart surgery, perhaps stem cell research draws some of the most attention of controversial issues. The greatest myth perhaps is that religion condemns stem cell research while science encourages it. The only controversy existent concerns the stem cell research that involves perverting a woman’s eggs that have been fertilized by a man’s sperm into a stem cell. It is this topic that draws the attention of the media, the classroom, and politics.
Of many “political/religious” groups, I agree most clearly with Focus on the Family. This group encourages adult stem cell research, as I do completely. We both only contest the embryonic stem cell research, clearly seen here: “Focus on the Family opposes stem cell research using human embryos.” I differ from Focus on the Family, and many groups, as to why I reject the idea of human embryo research. Many groups, such as the Catholic Bishops, believe that the human is created at conception or very soon after. The Jewish people say that after around a month, the embryo becomes a human. I am not so bold as to wager when the human is actually created. This is not for me to say as I leave that up to a greater power than myself. The main issue at hand is not deterring if the embryo is a human. The issue is acknowledging that the embryo is part of the natural life cycle and process. The embryo is the root, the initial union between two sets of chromosomes that constitute the formation of a human being, the shell of a soul. The fact that this is part of the human life cycle separates it from simple matter such as a rock or a vegetable.
The ethical dividing line is not completely certain: some say to research with embryos, some say to not. The question is asked “who can know?” I think that this is such a sticky issue that it is “better to be safe than sorry.” Even if one doesn't believe embryo is a human, the fact is that it is developing into one. Destroying this development is a scary issue and wrong. I believe that human tendency is to break rules and thus I believe that researchers have and will continue to cross such ethical lines.
Speaking of scary issues, the idea of me setting any U.S. policy is insane. U.S. policy is not for me to decide. I do not represent the U.S. and cannot say what the policy should be. As the United States is a democracy, the country should decide as a people. If the people decide to research embryonic stem cells, I believe that most “God-fearing” groups would oppose this, as a variety of other groups. On the other hand, if the people decide not to research embryonic stem cells, a large majority of the “scientific community” and those apparently blinded to the beauty of the natural life process would be enraged with the ruling.
After this year, and previous study of embryonic stem cells, I have reached a point to desire science to stay away from the use of embryos. The reproductive process is natural, whether one believes that evolution by chance brought it about or that some High Power created it. Either way, this is a beautiful process and should not be perverted. To those who say life is a beautiful thing and sustaining it using human embryos is a good thing, even if the ends does justify the means, who is to say if the means, destruction of embryos, shall be justified? I do not think that this destruction of human life/pre-life should be considered even as research. Thus I agree with stem cell research completely as embryonic research does not deserve the title.
As a conclusive statement concerning stem cell research, I agree with the Hippocratic sense of healing rather than destroying and that adult stem cells should be researched for further cures to the ails of humanity. However, to end parts of the human life cycle can only be condemnable.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

 

In my first journal entry, I wrote that my knowledge regarding the Scopes Trial was limited. After many class discussions and readings, however, the extent of my knowledge has greatly increased. I know feel I have a much better understand of the trial.

The Scopes Trial tested a law passed on March 13, 1925 prohibiting the teaching in any state funded educational establishment in Tennessee of the teaching of “any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” This test trial, which was formulated by Rappleyea, was seen as a chance to gain publicity for Dayton. Scopes, the substitute of the biology teacher, when asked if he had used Civic Biology to teach his students responded “Yes.” This was in violation of the law.

The trial focused the country’s attention towards the freedom of speech and the separation of church and state. This trial brought issues to the surface that are still debated to this day. The most prominent conflict was the fact that evolutionary teaching undermined the authority of the Bible. Conservative Christians attacked evolution as not being scientifically supported. They believed that since the Bible had supported itself in various aspects, then there was no reason to question the truth of Genesis’ account of the origin of human beings. Whereas, growing evidence in fossil records and Darwin’s Origins, was beginning to make people question the validity of the Bible. The Scopes Trial presented the contrasting views of a religious town and an evolving country. It was not so much the verdict the media cared about as much as the opposing views. It was from learning all this that I realized how publicized the whole trial was. Prior to learning about the Scopes trial in class, I never realized that this trial was simply a test. I never understood the underlying reasons of this trial, which were to expose the country to the growing rift between people’s beliefs regarding creation.

In regards to the Dover trial, the ACLU is suing the Dover school board for adopting a policy that requires students to be informed about the theory of intelligent design. The ACLU claims this policy violates the First Amendment Establishment Clause. Intelligent design is an alternative to the theory of evolution. The proponents of intelligent design argue that life is too complex to have evolved by natural selection, such as Charles Darwin suggest, and some intelligent driving-force must have had intervened. The ruling of the Dover trial will have an impact on what happens to the public school system in our country.

I personally feel that intelligent design should not be required to be taught in schools. I do feel, however, intelligent design should not be completely excluded from education. If teachers choose to teach intelligent design to their students, I believe that evolution, creationism, and other theories should also be taught. I see intelligent design as a newer version of creationism. I do not feel that intelligent design really has any solid background to support it. To enforce, however, that students be taught intelligent design, I do not agree with. At the current time, I do not feel that there is enough evidence to support intelligent design. In comparison to the evidence there is supporting evolution, intelligent design is lacking. I do not feel, however, that just become there is not as much evidence to support intelligent design though that people should shun the idea. At the given time, though, the supporting evidence is on evolution’s side.

I currently view the Dover trial and the Scopes trial on similar levels. Both the Dover trial and the Scopes trial have attracted a great deal of media to their small rural towns. While in Dayton, the trial was more so a publicity act, the Dover trial is not a test trial.

The issue of teaching creationism and evolution in the classroom, which was what the Scopes trial was about, is an issue that is still under debate to this day. Intelligent design is the idea that the complexity of life requires designer. This is merely a re-embodiment of the Scopes trial 80 years ago. People argued then that evolution did not have strong enough supporting evidence, whereas people today in the Dover trial claim that intelligent design too does not have enough supporting evidence. In both trials religion has a significant role. In the Scopes trial, people thought religion and the Bible was trying to be shunned from the classroom. Today in the Dover trial, people are fighting because they believe religion is being brought into the classroom. It seems as though there really can never be a happy medium. Either religion should be completely kept out of the public school system, or if religion is going to be brought in then the school system must encompass a large range of religions.


 

Galileo, Galileo

In my first journal entry, I really had no idea what the trial of Galileo actually consisted of. I didn’t realize that Galileo’s writings and lectures concerning the Copernican model were what caused such a controversy. I thought, originally, that Galileo had some new or original method of thinking that sent shockwaves through the religious and scientific communities. Furthermore, I didn’t know that Galileo was held in contempt because of his refusal to obey the 1616 ruling of the Pope and later because of his publications regarding the Copernican theory. This theory had as many political implications as it did scientific ones with Galileo losing favor in the eyes of the pope, whereas I thought that his trial was merely scientific in nature.
After learning of the trial of Galileo through both reading and discussion, I find myself having little respect for the scientific legend as a man. His argument for the Copernican theory was based not in fact but in thickheaded belief. He had no proof that the Copernican theory was any more scientifically accurate than Tycho’s or Kepler’s, but he avidly ridiculed anyone who offered a position for any belief other than his own. Galileo was a bully, and used prolific debating skills instead of valid scientific reasoning to assert his views.
The trial itself was not one regarding the validity of the Copernican system, but instead one that questioned whether Galileo had defied the pope’s order not to teach it or argue for it as more than a theory. In this respect, I believe that the trial was just. Galileo did indeed defy the orders of the pope and quite vocally advocated the Copernican model of the universe. Furthermore, he did so in a tactless and pompous manner, inciting the negative attention onto himself that he deserved.
Hindsight is 50-50, however, and in retrospect Galileo was scientifically correct. The universe is heliocentric as Copernicus suspected and because of that I believe that Galileo has gained respect from those looking back on his trial. Yes, he had no real proof and went about it the wrong way, but in the end his views became the accepted norm. Because of this, those who know little about the subject will often consider Galileo the victim in the trial instead of the actual offender that he was. I believe that the Pope made the correct decision in ruling Galileo guilty, but I can also understand that his forbidden words were accurate.
This trial is significant because it highlights an instance in which the church wields its power to silence the voices of those in their opposition. It represented the beginning of an era in which the church would continue to voice its opinions on scientific matters but also highlighted the fact that the church can be wrong. These two realizations paved the way for a new battle ground for the forces of science and religion.

 

Scopes Trial (big Journal)

After reviewing my first journal entry, I find my previous comments almost humorous. I stated that I was “only sure that the Scopes trial somehow involved a monkey,” and was obviously mistaken. I’m sure that my relation of the event to a monkey came from the one seen on the front of our book about the Scopes trial. This monkey is placed there as a symbol for evolution, not to represent a literal monkey that was involved in the trial.
Having read the material concerning this landmark trial and also having discussed it thoroughly in class, I now understand it to be an important event in the history of science as well as a cultural phenomenon. It advanced the cause of science by allowing for the national discussion of the theory of evolution as well as captivating the nation in what is considered “the trial of the century.” I feel that this trial advanced the standing of scientific theory as opposed to religion more than any other event in modern history. Because of all the media coverage, the entire nation got to see evolution stand trial against creationism and come away with the upper hand. Thanks to the brilliant cross examination of William Jennings Bryan by Clarence Darrow, the weaknesses and limitations of creationism were exposed to all. Although firm Christian believers could obviously not be swayed from their beliefs, the millions of Americans that were not so sure of their beliefs were presented with evolution as a substantial and credible theory. Furthermore, evolution has since been taught as such in both public and private schools around the country and become the accepted scientific theory regarding creation.
The Dover Trial, which is being deliberated on now, reverses the roles of the Scopes Trial. Currently, intelligent design is on the stand defending its right to be taught alongside evolution. In the days of the Scopes Trial, creationism was the accepted supposition of the day, but now it is outlawed in schools because of the separation of church and state. The trial in Dover is centered on the right to teach intelligent design in schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution. Those who are against Intelligent design see it as a masked form of creationism, while it’s supporters are arguing that it is scientific theory. Michael Behe’s approach to defending the right to teach intelligent design is proving its worth against Darwinism. He points out irreducible complexity, the fact that life is too complex not to be designed, as his main point. I agree with his arguments because of the examples he provides including blood clotting and his metaphor with a mousetrap. I concur with Behe that, since each individual component of the mousetrap has to work together, simple natural selection cannot account for the complexity involved when all the parts work together. When one part evolves, it cannot improve the mechanism because the function of that mechanism is dependant on all of its parts. It is my opinion that intelligent design should indeed be taught in schools along side evolution but in the same manor. It should be taught as a theory and its creator should not be specifically defined. It is important here to recognize and understand the difference between teaching creationism and teaching the theory of intelligent design. If students are subjected to both theories and left to decide their beliefs for themselves, than the teaching of intelligent design allows for independent thinking instead of preaching religious thought. Nothing negative can come from teaching both theories, and it would allow for students to expand their understanding of science’s attempts to explain creation.
I see the Dover trial as similar, but different than the trial of John Scopes. Although the more recent trial is important scientifically, it doesn’t hold the same weight socially and culturally as its predecessor. The Scopes trial was more of a show than a normal court proceeding, as it attracted mass media attention along with the involvement of William Jennings Brian, who was a popular political figure. As if the country hadn’t already been interested enough in the court’s actions, the movie “Inherit the Wind” that came out a few decades later made it a popular culture phenomenon. The movie had a pro-evolution spin and helped to increase knowledge of the already publicized trial. In contrast, the Dover trial includes no public figure such as Bryan, garners no mass media attention, and has no movie to boost its popularity. Therefore, although just as important throughout the scientific world, I doubt that it will become as culturally important as the Scopes trial. People aren’t informed and don’t care enough about Intelligent Design to pay as much attention to it as they did the Scopes trial. Evolution was a threat to people’s engrained religious beliefs whereas intelligent design is just a new theory to be taught alongside evolution. While the Scopes trial was a clash of science and religion, the Dover trial is theory versus theory, and, therefore, attracts less attention and speculation.

 

Embryonic Stem Cells

When regarding embryonic stem cell research, I would not consider my opinions to be completely mainstream, but not too radical either. I believe that general stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, in vitro maturation, and SCNT (therapeutic cloning) are all morally acceptable as well as promising as solutions to problems yet incurable in the medical world. According to the first article we were given to read, “The aim of stem cell research is to determine how to create specific tissues.” All the procedures listed above involving using these tissues in order to better people’s lives by finding cures to diseases that were once thought of as invincible. Cancer, AIDS, and Alzheimer’s are all within the grasp of stem cells to cure, but moral and financial problems continually hold them back.
Morally, I have to draw the line at reproductive cloning, in which an actual human being could be cloned. Therapeutic cloning, which involves stem cells that are not “adult” seems okay to me, as the benefits clearly outweigh the moral issues. Not only can this method help to save lives, but it can also help to create them for infertile couples wishing to have a child. Reproductive cloning, however, gives too much power to those who could literally build a human being. I would like to think that scientists would have equivalent moral judgment and be able to draw the line there.
After morality, funding is the main obstacle in the way of stem cell research. Recently, President Bush assigned federal funding only to projects working with an original batch of stem cells. But these cells, in the eyes of scientists, are not enough to effectively advance the field far enough to actually obtain results. I feel that it is not the responsibility of the government, but that of non-governmental organizations to fund this research. Such organizations exist all over the United States, and the funding is there to be had. Once a significant advance comes along in the field of stem cells, I think that it will be much easier to find the money. The American people react to results, and those are sure to come eventually from the embryonic stem cell community. The American government should encourage such research and let it continue, but they have a limited budget that does not need the added strain of this research.
Ethically speaking, I would not personally consider an embryo to be a human being. I would consider something to be “alive” when it knows it is alive. That is to say, something is living when it can recognize and react to stimulus around it. Whether this point is found in the womb or out of it, I consider it a fair assertion regarding what is living and what is not. Therefore, I would align myself most closely with the opinions of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, who deem the use of aborted or therapeutic embryonic stem cells acceptable when they are used for “purposes of life-saving or life-enhancing research and treatment.” Highly conservative religious groups would obviously be the most likely to oppose my position on stem cells because they believe that a fetus is a human and using it would therefore be immoral.
My attitude concerning this issue doesn’t come from any certain belief system or specific encouragement, but I have, like many others, watched loved ones die of diseases such as cancer. I want us to find a cure for such diseases and I feel that embryonic stem cell research is one feasible way of doing so.

 

Stem Cell Research

Stem Cell Research

     I have a lot of experience with cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, so I think that my views on stem cell research have been greatly influenced by my history.  In principal, I am completely behind stem cell research.  I think that science is about improving the quality of life, and there has been some debate about the quality of life for the embryo.  But I don’t necessarily believe that an embryo is a human being.  An embryo does not have skin, hair, nor can it see or feel.  Some may see this as a heartless approach to human life, but rather I see it as a positive approach to a radical form of scientific research.  Therefore I would have to say that I align myself most closely with Professor Blackburn, who doesn’t support a moratorium on stem cells.  
I believe that stem cells have the potential to be a human life, but the potential to be other things as well.  Some people in class argued that this embryo could potentially become a human life, and make a difference that way.  I think that this is where the ethical line should be drawn.  While I don’t believe that fetuses should be aborted for the use of medical research, I do think that researchers should have every avenue available to them with which to make scientific advancements.  The potential that the stem cells have to provide vital research and improve knowledge about diseases is more important to me because their potential is unmatched.  Stem cells are unspecialized and are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods.  (Stemcells II)  Lines of stems cells have infinite possibility and I think that this potential for innovation cannot be ignored.  Adult stem cell research is great, but adult stem cells typically generate the cell types of the tissue in which they reside. (Stemcells II)  Embryonic stem cells offer a brand new chance to create healthy cells, rather than potentially carrying over problems from the adult from which they were taken.
I didn’t know that there were so many different types of stem cell research.  I am familiar with in vitro fertilization, but I had no idea that so many potential embryos were just discarded.  If they are going to be thrown out anyway, why not just use them?  The idea of so much potential research simply going to waste is unfathomable to me.  I had never known about the remnants of in vitro fertilization, but I think it’s important for the parents of each embryo to decide its fate.  I can completely understand the parent’s reluctance to donate their embryos, but once the parents have given the go ahead, why not use these otherwise useless embryos?
     I think that George Bush tried to split the fence when it comes to stem cells.  I think that as many stem cells lines should be created as would be useful to scientific research.  I don’t think that their creation should be limited by anything other than necessity.  Conservative Christian organization would vehemently disagree with me, while I think that many liberal Democrats would agree with me.  This is interesting to me, as this is not how my political views typically play out.  But this is one scientific issue that I feel strongly about because of my personal experience with the diseases stme cell research is proposed to help cure.  
  

 

I Show my Hand

With death or before, parting comes to us all. And so the time has come, before I depart, to show my hand. I have made a practice of not stating my position, only asking questions. I knew that as soon as I stated a position, my position would become subject to inquiry. This is only right. A structure, especially a philosophical one, must be questioned. In my life, I attempt to live this way. Where I do not know, I do not speak. What I do know is that things can be questioned, for none of us knows everything, or knows anything completely, and so I question.
But now the time has come. Some structure must exist, if only the one to question from. All relativity is relative to something, all science, art, communication and thought relies and lies upon some basis and context.
I am a believer in the soverign God, creator of heaven and earth. I believe the Bible is his one and only word, and that it is the only true interpreter for life. I believe he is active and interactive in our lives, and that he has preserved through history the validity of his word, so that his sheep might hear his voice, and come to him.
I believe that we all rely upon something. We all give authority to something, be it scientists, reason, empiricism, or some other text. I believe there is nothing, no authority, so reliable as the God who has revealed himself through the Bible. He has shown in that text (Daniel, Isaiah, Matthew) to know the future that has come to pass. He has shown himself faithful to me, and the more I know of his character, the more I learn of his faithfulness and my own failing. I pray constantly that he would more fully reveal himself to me, because I can not reach him, he must reach me. I depend upon a God that I can not see, but only see the evidences of.
I believe that all scripture points to Christ, and this is the reason I have a hope. He is the summation and the reason for all the scriptures, and in his coming to earth and dying, he redeemed those he chose as his own, those who, by God's grace, are drawn to him, according to the witness of the Scriptures. The Scriptures are nothing but a witness to him. I believe this is foolishness to those who are being destroyed (1 Corinthians 1-3).
Blessed be his name, forever and ever. All who disagree, begin your attack, all who agree, pray for wisdom, stregnth, grace and love, and the more full representation of Christ. All who question, read the Bible, perhaps begin with John. It, by God's grace, will form those who seek him into those who know him and love him.

 

Stem Cells and Ethics

I can think of very few medical endeavors which possessed half the potential of a developed understanding of stem cells and their applications. Having said that, it is possible that stem cells are useless, though more likely their uses are somewhat less than advertised. Even if stem cells can only do a fraction of what is currently thought, it would be useful to millions of people worldwide. It is for this reason that I feel institutions, both public and private, should be fully committed to the research and utilization of stem cells.

Having read the opinions of the various authors, I am forced to agree with the author of the Newsweek article as well as with some of the opinions of members of the President’s special council. Unfortunately, I only roughly agree with these opinions. Both stressed the enormous potential of stem cells as a just reasoning for continued study, with which I agree. I do feel that these authors are being a bit optimistic as far as the ethical considerations are concerned. Both seem to feel that humanity will exploit this technology only to a certain point, beyond which will be ethically out of bounds. This idea is misled in my opinion.

Certainly there are major ethical questions involved in such an endeavor; I myself am quite unconcerned by these questions. Not being religious, I do not believe there is any higher moral authority that what humans allow themselves to accomplish. Additionally, I do not consider a blastocyst to be a human being; as such I am not troubled by the research being done on them, or their destruction. Regarding an ethical divide, I do not believe there should be one. Furthermore, such a divide would be temporary, in the end (though it may take decades or centuries) all barriers to this, and any other research, will break down. Some researchers obviously believe in such a line, while, others do not. Eventually this advancement and all of it offspring including cloning and genetic engineering, will become prevalent.

The government of the United Sates is solely responsible to its citizens. It must not consider the religious implications of such research. The argument that destroying a blastocyst is destroying a human is a poor one. The status quo does not consider these to be human. As a point of fact, a second trimester fetus is apparently not considered a human, though I am not sure I agree with that. The US should pass no law hindering this research. Rather, the government must move to aid institutions which hold the promise of aiding millions of Americans through the cures which may be possible with stem cells. I am sure that many in the scientific and medical community would side with my opinion. I am equally sure that many people who are stereotypically referred to as the “religious right” (Pat Robertson comes to mind) would like to hang me. The first time that the church admitted that the Earth was not the center of the universe was in 1994,; I do not look to them for answers on what is right and wrong.

Dr. Oppenheimer said it best, “barriers for freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors.” In this example, hundreds of millions of people would have a better life if the technology is developed. I cannot turn my back on these people in favor of some religiously oriented ethical dilemma.


 

Stem Cell Research

Stem cell research is one of those sticky subjects that don’t quite have clear right and wrong sides for most people. The trouble with this debate is that nobody can really tell when life begins, and if it does begin at “conception,” is it worth it to knock off a bunch of pre-infants to cure humanity of a disease? Is that even possible? It is my opinion, if it is possible, that we should make that sacrifice if we are to advance medically as a society. I’ve never bought into the “slippery slope” argument, that some of my classmates put forth, that implies that the moment we allow the “killing” of embryos for research, we will start farming infants and killing them off one-by-one. The whole “brave new world” scenario doesn’t hold any water because it completely disregards the fact that humans will continue to have morals and a clearly drawn line over which our society cannot step. That line may oscillate from time to time, but it certainly doesn’t move all the way back to the point of murder or a fellow human being in the name of science. By using that argument, they are essentially saying that if they give this up now, they can’t say what they will give up in the future, which is a ridiculous comment because the “slippery slope” is lined with crevasses of uncertainty over which only extrapolation and leaps of logic can take a person.

I think I most closely agree with the Episcopal Church and their “conservative and balanced approach,” of understanding the medical value of the research, but not farming life for the research specifically. Women are going to have abortions, and a certain number of them are going to want to have those embryos used for research, so I don’t see a problem with using them. I think the position of our government should also be that we should allow for the research of already-discarded embryos, but we should not farm them. I think it also holds true logically that it is not as if women are going to go out and get pregnant more often and have more abortions if the final result means donating the embryo to research. The moral dilemmas still exist for the woman, and having an abortion is not a fun time, so I don’t think there will suddenly be a mad rush to have them to start us down our “slippery slope.” The biggest opponents of this idea would essentially be most of the fundamentalist Christian groups, the Catholic Church, and the Greek Orthodox Church. The Southern Baptists would probably continue their “enduring, consistent, and vigorous opposition” to most of my opinions on the matter, which is their right because they believe the embryo to be a life based on their reading of the Bible, a religious text. Our government, however, should take a secular stance on the issue and hold true the ideas of the “social contract” and not do things like kill fellow human beings who are alive and conscious, but use all other means to attain the ends that will help us, namely curing diseases.

 

I support embryonic stem cell research. I feel that my views relate closest to those of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. This group of Reform Jews believes that for the “purposes of life-saving or life-enhancing research and treatment” tissues that have been obtained by therapeutic or spontaneous abortions may be used. It is believed that a person’s primary responsibility is to save a humans life, even if it goes against the law. I believe that people should do all they are capable of to save a human life. Embryonic stem cells present us with the opportunity to do so. Placing restrictions on research and the number of stem cell lines is only hurting us. The U.S. is sitting and watching other countries continue to do research because of bills passed slowing down our progress. The fact that embryonic stem cells hold so much potential to save lives and potential help cure diseases should be reason alone to continue research.

I do not agree with Bush’s ban on further government funding of embryonic stem cell research. The stem cell lines, which Bush had proposed to be used for further testing, have now been found to be useless. While states are allowed to fund research on their own by passing bills, as California did, I do not see this being something that would catch on quickly, if at all, in many states in the U.S. Because of this, and the fact that Bush will be in office for another three years, a strain has been placed on further advancement and research. I believe that if researchers are not allowed to continue research in the United States and are not given sufficient grants, then they will be forced to continue their research in other countries.

In the United States today there are fertility clinics with thousands of frozen embryos, which were prepared for IVF. If these unused frozen embryos are not needed, they are discarded. Why then, if people find it okay to dispose of these frozen embryos, can researchers not put those frozen embryos to use? I personally do not believe that the blastocyst is a human life. Therefore, I would have no problem with researchers using the frozen embryos. Either way they will be destroyed. Why then not put them towards a good use in an effort to save human lives? The point where I would have to draw the line on what I believe is and isn’t ethical is when women would sell their eggs or even their frozen embryos to be tested. If researchers would pay money to receive eggs from women, which in the first place would be a very invasive surgery, I believe this would be stepping over the line.

I think what many people are unable to see because they are so concerned with the fact a human life is being killed, is the great potential to save lives. Just because no cure or huge advancement to this day has been made does not justify ending research. People need to look at the potential of embryonic stems cells and the potentials to save lives and help human suffering.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

 

Stem Cell Research

Stem Cell Research

Journal Entry #6

Just to put myself into a general category, I would say that I most closely associate with the conservative side of the stem cell issue, such as a group like Focus on the Family. Just as a basic guideline, I would say that the taking of life for the advancement of science is unacceptable; therefore, the dividing line would be drawn before embryonic stem cell research or SCNT therapeutic cloning. The only method of research I find suitable is that of adult stem cells, as no human life is lost. Additionally, this method has already produced results, which shows promise for the future as we improve this technology. As we discussed in class, I know that embryonic stem cells could provide a wider range of final products from just one source (an embryo), and SCNT could produce an exact match, but where do we draw the line after we start playing God?

I do not believe that researchers will refrain from crossing my personal line, as we have already advanced stem cell research and SCNT around the world. However, I also do not expect them to draw the line in the same place as me. Me views are not necessarily the views of everyone, and I can clearly see the benefits of furthering this scientific knowledge; it simply worries me to know that we are marching ahead without much concern of morality or our ethical path. Eventually, stem cell research and SCNT will be funded, and even though Bush is smart to stand his ground on the issue in order to maintain support from conservative Christians, it’s only a matter of time until we are cloning cells and producing organs. On my side of the line would be the conservative Christians, but the strongest voice by far currently are those in support of new stem cell technology. Selected states such as California are already funding local research, and these patches of support will gradually grow until the entire country is ready to advance technological healing.

I draw the line at adult stem cell research because I believe in the conservation of human life and the rights of the individual. It is not up to us to determine which embryos live and which die, even if we are healing someone else in the process. As we discussed in class, an embryo has a potential to become a full fledged human life with talents and intelligence to contribute to the world; to take this gift away is a crime in the utmost sense. Also, I am most afraid of the “slippery slope,” and what a technology such as SCNT will lead to in the future. There is no way of knowing what will happen once we open up the door to cloning and creating human life as we please. What could be next? Will we birth babies to simply harvest their organs and use them for healing, justifying it under the name of science? There is an extreme amount of subjective morality to deal with, and if the ethics aren’t addressed there is potential for great harm to the human race and our nation.


 

Galileo

In my first journal entry, I commented on how I was not completely knowledgeable of the exact happenings of the trial of Galileo, but I did know that religion dealt a hand in the trial and the ultimate decision. In the case of Galileo, for many years the exact details of his trial and his battle with the Church have been misunderstood. Galileo is praised as a martyr of science, yet looking at the facts it suggests otherwise.

During the 16th century, the Church underwent the Protestant Reformation and the Counter Reformation. The church was very conservative in regards to theology and the Scripture, and it was this attitude that was still present during the time of Galileo’s trial. The Counsel of Trent forbade anyone except the pope and bishops from interpreting the Scriptures. With the discoveries of the laws of motion of falling bodies and projectiles, the law of the pendulum, and a more powerful telescope all by Galileo, he was able to discover that Venus along with the moon underwent regular series of phases thus disproving Ptolemy’s theory. In the Bible it states that the earth is at rest and the sun moves around the earth, but Galileo found this statement to be untrue. Galileo knew Ptolemy’s theory to be false, but by voicing his opinions was challenging the Church and the Counsel of Trent. Unfortunately, however, Galileo was never able to provide concrete evidence to support his theory, and it remained unresolved even at the end of the trial.

Believing in Copernicus’s heliocentric model, Galileo went against the Church’s Decree of 1616 not to teach Copernicanism. Prior to this decree, the theory of the Copernican system had been encouraged in discussion, as long as it remained within the confines of science. In turn, Galileo published Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which violated Pope Urban VIII’s order. It was at this point that Galileo’s friendship with the pope ended. Before all of this, Galileo had worked in agreement with the Church and his fellow scientists. He was praised by the Jesuits and had close connections within the Church. A growing ego, a desire for fame, and believing he was always right were all things, which brought about his downfall. With the loss of his connections within the Church, Galileo was thus unable to write whatever he wanted. There was a great amount of animosity towards Galileo, and many people wanted him put away and punished. He was found to be suspected of heresy, and he was condemned in 1633.

Personally, I feel that Galileo cannot really be called a martyr for science. I do not feel that his conflict with the church can be based solely on his desire to further the advancement of science. Towards the end he was claiming other people’s theories to be those of his own, and from this I cannot help but think there had to have been some selfish motives involved. Had Galileo lived a hundred years before, the trial never would have occurred. Due to the time he lived in, however, a time when there was much less tolerance, Galileo’s confrontation attitude turned out to be his downfall. Before class I had never really known the background of Galileo and the information leading up to the trial. I can now say that I have a very different perspective of Galileo and his trial today than I did the first few days of class.


 

Stem Cell Research Journal

My personal views on stem cell research are most closely represented by the opinions expressed by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Judaism believes in the concept of “pikuach nefesh”, the primary responsibility to save human life, which overrides almost all other laws. As a result of this, they believe that we should use all knowledge that is available to us to save human life, and part of this knowledge happens to be our ability to use embryonic stem cells to find new therapies for a wide range of serious human ailments. They believe that based on the current evidence that has been shown, the future of stem cell research is extremely promising and that it will be possible, with much further study to put an end to the suffering of people who are afflicted with such serious conditions as paralysis, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and many other horrible conditions. I agree very much with this point of view. I think that the primary goal of medicine should be to help relieve the patient’s suffering. There are many conditions that are prevalent in the medical world today and are striking more and more people each day and the tragic part is that doctors have no way of curing them. Now, however, there is a possibility that with embryonic stem cell research we can cure these horrible afflictions, and I think that we should pursue this opportunity and make every attempt possible to relieve the suffering of people around the world.
I also agree with what the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice has to say on this issue. They state, “We believe in the morality of the use of tissue derived from fetuses when the procurement of that tissue is carefully regulated.” They also say, “We also believe that fetal tissue donation is moral when the decision to use the tissue is made separately from the decision to abort. Women who have made informed decisions to donate fetal tissue for research deserve the respect and gratitude of society.” The RCRC believes that women should have the right to make their own choice about whether to donate their fetus’s tissue to stem cell research efforts. I am in agreement with this view because I believe that a woman should have the right to do what she wants with her body. I do not think that the government should restrict this right in any way shape or form. If a woman feels that she would like to donate her aborted fetus’s stem cells to science so that they can be used for research, then this is her right and no one should be able to inhibit her actions. It is not the place of a group of middle-aged men (i.e. the Unites States Congress) to be telling American women what they can and cannot do to their own bodies. I also believe that the RCRC is right to specify that the use of fetal tissue for research is moral when it is procured properly. I agree that it is not ethical to use tissue that was acquired by bribing the donor or taking it in other dishonest, deceitful ways. The mother must make her own decision to donate it, and no one else should either force her into the decision or provide incentives. If women were offered motivation to abort fetuses in the name of stem cell research, a very disturbing and unethical tissue market that exploited human lives could develop in this country and even around the world which would truly be a tragedy.
I think that the dividing line between what is ethical and what is not lies in the motives that are driving the research and the ultimate uses of the technology. As long as the knowledge gained by the research that is being done is used to help people, then the research can be considered ethical. However, the ultimate motives are not the only thing that is important in this case; the ends do not necessarily always justify the means in my opinion. Very careful steps must be taken to ensure that human rights are not abused. In my opinion, it is ok to use the stem cells as long as the embryo is not allowed to mature into a fetus or to be born. Within the first trimester, before the fetus possesses differentiated organs or resembles a human being, it is ok to remove the cells as I do not believe that this being is yet a human. After this point however, I do not think that it is ok to kill the fetus simply for the use of its stem cells. If a woman independently chooses to abort the pregnancy after this point, then that is her decision and it should be respected. There is a danger that once the fetus becomes a human being, its rights could be abused. Theoretically, once there is a greater knowledge of stem cells and how to use them, it will be possible to produce new organs for patients in need of them. If this ability is taken too far, it could result in the creation of human beings simply to exploit them and steal their organs to give to others who need them. This would be very wrong and extremely unethical in my opinion and steps will need to be taken in the future to ensure that if stem cells can indeed be used successfully for this purpose, this kind of abuse does not occur. Strict regulations by the government will most likely be needed to keep this from getting out of hand.
I think that the United States should be more supportive of stem cell research. This is a very promising field that can stand to benefit a large number of people if the technology can be perfected. However, this cannot happen unless our country provides funding to scientists so that they can do the research that is required to find out whether or not this will be able to help people. Many people argue that these programs should not be funded because there has not been enough evidence presented to prove that it will really help to improve people’s lives. In response to this, I would ask how one can make a statement such as that one when it has not even been given the chance to prove whether or not it can help people. Because of this, I think that the United States should start providing more funds for stem cell research in this country. This will allow scientists to determine if there are benefits to this technology. After this, I think that it will be necessary for the US government to impose strict regulations on the use of the technology to prevent it from being abused. It should only be able to be used for therapeutic purposes and should only be employ if there is a clearly demonstrated need by the patient (i.e. permission of the doctor and written permission). There will also need to be rigorous regulations on where the stem cells that are used for therapy come from. They must not be acquired from donors who were given other incentives to donate the tissue (i.e. money) or were forced to do so by an outside influence. This will help to prevent abuse of human rights and exploitation of tissues.

 

Galileo Journal

When this class first began, I did not have any significant views on the trial of Galileo. I had a general knowledge of who Galileo was and what his contributions were to the scientific world, but I knew virtually nothing about his trial and his conflict with the Catholic Church. For this reason, I was very interested in this section of the course because I gained a great deal of knowledge about a subject that I had never studied before.

After learning much more about not only Galileo’s scientific research and discoveries, but about him as a person than I knew before, I have to say that I do not think that I would like to have known him. There is no denying that Galileo was a very intelligent man who played an extremely important role in scientific history. However, he could also be very self-centered, conceited, and hungry for the spotlight, characteristics that are not always admirable. Galileo has established this reputation long before his trial occurred. For example, he shows many of these characteristics in his relationship with Kepler. He cut off all correspondence with Kepler and after Kepler volunteered much-needed support for Galileo’s discoveries, Galileo never thanked or acknowledged Kepler for it. Also, whenever Galileo or his work were criticized, he responded violently with sarcasm and insults, a quality which Koestler describes as “a rare gift of provoking enmity; not the affection alternating with rage that Tycho aroused, but the cold, unrelenting hostility which genius plus arrogance minus humility creates among mediocrities” (373). When he felt that he had not been properly credited for his work when it was mentioned in Balthasar Capra’s brochure on the proportional compass, he lashed out in fury with an almost irrational reaction. He accused Capra of plagiarism and then published his own pamphlet in which he used harsh language to deride Capra and his work. When scholars doubted his observations of Jupiter’s moons, he simply responded with sarcasm and refused to see the areas of possible error in his own work.

This evidence led me to believe that Galileo was not a very nice or agreeable person, and this view most definitely caused me to be biased against Galileo when his trial was discussed. I agree with what Koestler says in the beginning of the chapter on the trial: “It is my conviction that the conflict between Church and Galileo (or Copernicus) was not inevitable; that it was not in the nature of a fatal collision between opposite philosophies of existence, which was bound to occur sooner or later, but rather a clash or individual temperaments aggravated by unlucky coincidences” (432). I think that if Galileo had not been so headstrong in many cases and offended so many people, this issue would not have ended in a trial. If he had been more considerate and careful he could have used his connections to his advantage and not faced punishment for supporting Copernican ideas. He was friends with Pope Urban VIII, and this could have been a very valuable relationship had he not abused it. His friend was not out to destroy his career and prevent him from doing his work, and was prepared to overlook his ideology even though it conflicted with the Church. Galileo was able to discuss and write about Copernican theories as long as he did not assert them as fact and spoke strictly hypothetically. Had Galileo not gone on to offend the Pope in his Dialogue, I think that he could have carried on very peacefully with the Church in this way for a long time. He would have been able to continue his work “under the table” and once he had gathered enough solid irrefutable evidence, he could have successfully presented it and had it accepted as fact.

However, Galileo chose to continue in his stubborn headstrong ways and this ended up getting him in trouble. His jabs at the Pope’s beliefs in his Dialogue combined with the many instances in which he had offended the Jesuits caused the Church to become very angry with Galileo and they set out to put him on trial, humiliate him and ruin his reputation.

I think that Galileo was indeed guilty as charged in the trial. He had blatantly disobeyed the decree that had banned him from teaching the Copernican theory as fact. Although I believe that Galileo was a great scientist and that he should be respected for the great discoveries and work that he accomplished during his lifetime, I cannot help but think that he deserved what he got. He acted very recklessly and carelessly in his dealings with people, discredited other scientists’ discoveries, and wanted to take all the credit for all the work that was done in his field. This attitude ended up coming back to haunt him when he had to go up against the people he had made into enemies during his lifetime in order to defend what he believed in.


 

Scopes trial Journal

Before this class began, I had spent some time studying the Scopes Trial in other classes, so I had some preliminary views on it. The classes where I had learned about the trial were all history classes so these gave me a very straightforward view on it, and I mostly just learned the basic facts about the trial. Looking back at my first journal entry, it is interesting to see what my initial thoughts about the trial were. I was originally interested in the trial because I was fascinated with the collision between science and religion and the effects of it. I believed that the debate had come about primarily because the two sides were extremely stubborn and were unwilling to compromise with each other on the issue of whether or not evolution should be taught in schools. In my mind, I thought that it was unfair to rule one theory to be right over another and that students should be exposed to both theories and be allowed to make up their own minds as to what they choose to believe in. I also expressed my personal beliefs on the theories and said that I believe that evolution is correct, but I also believe in creation. Since I believe that it is possible for both of these beliefs to exist together, I believe that God used evolution as his mechanism for creating the world and bringing the creatures of the world into existence.

Now, after studying the Scopes trial much more in depth than I ever had before, my view of it has changed in some ways. Before this class, I had no idea that there were such huge political ramifications that went along with the trial and that it was so manufactured. Everything from the location to the lawyers to the defendant was completely contrived. George Rappleyea did not agree with the law that was passed against teaching evolution, and decided that he wanted to bring the trial to Dayton to give the small town some publicity and hopefully help make it bigger and help it make a name for itself. In addition to this, the two lawyers were two of the biggest political figures of the time, and because they would be going head to head on opposite sides of the debate, this made the trial even more of a publicity stunt. People became interested if for no other reason than to be witness to one of the greatest political debates of the time. The lawyers also were not getting involved simply to fight for or against evolution. For William Jennings Bryan, the debate was more about protecting his religion against modern society and education which he believed were causing people to lose their faith. I was also shocked to learn that Scopes was not actually a biology teacher in the Dayton schools. He was picked out to be the defendant in the case based on his lack of establishment in the town. The actual biology teacher was also the principal of the high school and was well established with a family and everything to lose by being involved in the trial. Scopes did not have anything to lose by participating in the debate, and he was also judged to “fit the part” of a young, unassuming teacher who would not be threatening.

Now that I know much more about the facts having to do with the Scopes trial, I feel that my opinions on it have changed slightly. I feel that it is definitely a much more complex issue than I realized it was before. I had no idea how artificial and manufactured the trial was, I simply thought that it was a legitimate case that came about naturally. In some ways, now that I know this, the trial is not quite as significant in my mind as it was before, simply because I do not agree with all of the political game-playing that went into producing the trial. I think that the trial should have been focused more on the issue at hand, whether or not to teach evolution, than on the celebrities who were involved. The lack of scientific debate that went into the trial also took away from the significance of the trial in my mind. For an issue that is so critical to the future of the academic world, there was a severe lack of academic evidence present at the trial.

However, I must say that in many ways, I also think that the politics that played into the trial helped it to make a significant impression on the country. An issue such as evolution, no matter how intriguing it might be to scientists and other members of the academic field, is not always the most exciting thing to the general public. By including big-name politicians as lawyers, pitting them against each other, and turning the trial into a publicity stunt, they successfully caught the attention of the country. Reporters flocked to Dayton, Tennessee to get the latest updates on the status of the trial, and people packed the court room in order to witness this historical event for themselves. It is extremely likely that if the trial had not involved high profile politicians and had not been so highly publicized by the media, then it would not have had nearly the same effect on the country as it did.

I was very interested in our study on the Dover trial in this class because I think that otherwise, I would not have heard very much at all about this extremely controversial issue that is so crucial to the future of how science is taught in American schools. So I am grateful to have been enlightened about such an important event in American politics and current events which also provides a nice sequel to the ever-present debate centered around evolution, and depending on the verdict of the trial, could also provide the conclusion.

I think that in some ways, the Dover trial was a little bit contrived. The entire debate centered around the inclusion of four paragraphs that was read at the beginning of class, warning students that they did not have to believe everything that they were taught regarding the theory of evolution. Many parents believed that this was threatening their beliefs and their own values that they were trying to teach their children. In my opinion, it seems like the community has used this as an excuse to bring an ongoing debate to the courtroom and resolve it. Even some of the students that were interviewed for the articles that we read in class seemed a bit confused over what exactly this trial was about. It seems that a much bigger deal was made about this one, simple statement than was warranted.

However, at the same time, I think that it was necessary to have this trial so that the country could begin to resolve this debate over evolution versus intelligent design. If it is decided that intelligent design violates the separation between church and state that is outlined in the constitution, then the debate could be permanently resolved. That is at least until a new theory is created to challenge evolution. The trial gave the intelligent design advocates an extremely good platform to show the country and the world what their beliefs are all about. There are not a whole lot of people who are very familiar with what intelligent design is, so this was the perfect opportunity for people like Michael Behe to present the facts and educate the public on their theory. Even if they do not win the trial, they really have not lost much because they have only gained publicity and more media exposure, which can only serve to help them in the long run. If more people know what intelligent design is and what it is all about, then they might consider adopting it as their own belief system and the theory will gain a greater following.

In my opinion, there are many similarities between the Scopes trial and the Dover trial, and also some differences. Both of these trials seemed to me to be rather manufactured, more so in the case of the Scopes trial, but I felt that there were still some indications of this in the Dover trial. The parents who were suing the school district seemed to be searching for any excuse to make this argument in court, and the inclusion of this statement happened to be the first thing that came along. Also, both trials served as a platform for people to make their beliefs and theories known. In the case of the Scopes trial, William Jennings Bryan was able to use the opportunity as a chance to vocalize his religious beliefs and to try to “save” people from losing their faith. In the case of the Dover trial, Intelligent Design activists were able to use the opportunity as an occasion to vocalize their own beliefs and to publicize the facts on their theory. People who had never heard of intelligent design were hearing about it on the news and were learning all about what it is and what it stands for. Also both trials served as very definitive decisions in the struggle between science and religion. Certainly in the case of the Scopes trial this is true, and in my opinion, regardless of the verdict, the Dover trial promises to have a great impact on the conflict between science and religion as well. The Scopes trial set the standard for what could and could not be taught in the classroom, and its verdict has yet to be overturned. If the Dover trial rules in favor of the parents who are suing the district, then this will just be one more affirmation of the original Scopes verdict. If the verdict comes out in favor of the intelligent design advocates, this will have just as much of an impact on society in that it will change how science is taught in this country and how we view theories such as intelligent design.

One major difference between the two is the level of publicity that they received. The Scopes trial received a great deal more publicity than the Dover trial did. However, this was due to the fact that in the Scopes trial, two of the biggest politicians of the day were heavily involved, and this in and of itself was a major attraction. The Dover trial has not received very much publicity for today’s standards perhaps because it does not have such high profile participants, and also because it is not the most urgent thing in the news today.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

 

Journal 6: Stem Cell Research

Stem cell research is a difficult topic, but it is definitely the buzz word of today. I did not realize there were two types of stem cell research: adult and embryonic. Adult stem cell research is not causing nearly as much controversy as embryonic. In fact, most people accept adult stem cell research as ethical and it has already been used successfully to treat many different types of diseases. Embryonic stem cell research is controversial because in order to get the stem cells the whole embryo must be destroyed. However, this embryo is seen to some people as a human being. I would have to agree with this viewpoint. Although it is not and never will be implanted into a uterus to grow into a baby, it is the starting point that everyone came from. I do not agree that human life should be destroyed to save someone else’s life. This brings in the issue of second class citizenship, which is something that America does not stand for. America and the people in America make sure that everyone has all of their rights. It is surprising that the Democrats are usually the group of people who fight for the “little man” and stand up for the people whose rights are usually suppressed yet they support embryonic research. If they really wanted to give everyone their rights, they should fight against embryonic research with all their might because the embryos are the ones without a voice.
The Episcopal Church states clearly that the embryos that we have now should be used for research to cure disease, but new embryonic lines should not be created for this purpose. I agree with this statement when it comes to what we should do with the embryos we have now. I also agree with the Christian Coalition which states that killing one human being to save another is never morally just and supporting embryonic research would be the first time America has supported a program that endorsed the killing of human life for research purposes. Embryonic research is not something that we should try to continue. If we have researched with adult stem cells and found cures through them, we should continue to use adult stem cells. While it may be more difficult to find the correct stem cells, it is more ethical and we know that it works. Embryonic research has not had success like adult stem cell research. While supporters of embryonic research say they need more time, this time should be spent continuing adult stem cell research. Groups which would oppose this policy would be the people who believe embryonic research could have saved a loved one who recently died. Christopher Reeves and Ronald Reagan are just two famous men who died from diseases that have no cure as of now.
Embryonic research is not ethical. It is not ethical because it kills a human life for research purposes. Killing people is not ethical, it is against the law. The problem today is that there is a difference between what different groups consider to be human life or not. Personally I think that human life begins at conception, like the Catholic Bishops. People who support embryonic research do not believe human life starts that early. Until we can resolve this issue, embryonic research will still be a point of major conflict. Once we decide as a country when human life begins not only can we decide about embryonic research we can also decide the abortion conflict.

Monday, December 05, 2005

 

Stem Cell Journal

JOURNAL ASSIGNMENT 6

Stem cell research is a rather hot topic in the world today. No one knows what the correct view on this issue is. After reading about the stance of various groups and people, I most closely agree with Professor Meilaender of The President’s Council for Bioethics. This man believes that an embryo is fully deserving of respect. The Christian Coalition says the embryo’s human rights must be upheld. The main question in this whole debate on stem cell research is “what is the embryo?” I personally believe that the embryo is human life, and it should be treated as such. As a result, I do not agree with embryonic stem cell research or SCNT (therapeutic cloning). I believe stem cell research should begin where life is not compromised. I agree with Professor Meileander that there is no difference between cloning-for-biomedical-research and cloning-to-produce-children. Life is life. It’s not okay to end one life to potentially save another because, by doing so, one is choosing to put more value on one life than another. This is ethically and morally wrong.

I also agree with Professor Meileander on the religious implications of stem cell research. I find Meileander’s view that since Christ adopted vulnerability, the embryo’s vulnerability should be embraced and cared for quite interesting. As a Christian, I find truth in this.

The U.S. policy on stem cell research is a much discussed topic. I think President Bush’s policy on stem cell research is okay, but I don’t see the point in allowing existing stem cell lines to be used in research. What will happen once these lines are all used up? I think that if the research proves that embryonic stem cells can actually cure diseases then people will find ways to get more stem cells. I am a believer in the idea that what can be done will be done. Scientists can go to other countries to do research. It is a very slippery slope. We could end up with embryo factories. Life is too valuable to allow this to happen.

I adopt Professor Meileander’s idea that there should be a ban on all human cloning—no matter what the purpose. There should also be no research on embryonic stem cells that aren’t clones. I fear the slippery slope. I think that there is much promise in adult stem cell research. These stem cells have been proven to treat diseases, and they don’t compromise anyone’s life. They don’t have as much potential as embryonic stem cells, though, because they are not completely undifferentiated, but they still have potential. I think this policy would get much support from quite a few religious groups such as Focus on the Family, the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptists and the Christian Coalition. Most of the opposition will come from a few religious groups such as the Reform Jews and the Episcopal Church. Many scientists and doctors will also be against this policy. The actual possibilities of stem cells would be a huge discovery and advancement for the scientists and the stem cells could possibly offer many doctors a cure which they can give to many of their patients. Also, as demonstrated in the Reagan family’s support of John Kerry, people directed affected by diseases that could possibly be cured with embryonic stem cells would also oppose this policy of banning human cloning and embryonic stem cell research.

While some may see this policy as inhibiting science, I see it rather as upholding ethical and religious values. I also believe that adult stem cells have considerable potential and should not be thought of solely as a lesser alternative to embryonic stem cells.

 

Stem Cell Research

Stem cell research is currently a hot topic in the scientific and political worlds of the United States. The research in its simplest form involves using a pluripotent stem cell in the laboratory, and in the process destroying what could become a life. The controversy comes from whether using the stem cells for research is morally acceptable or not. There are several opponents of the practice, for religious or other reasons. However, the research promises to hold multiple advances in science and health care.
Personally, I am torn on this issue. While I am not sure of the morality of using these stem cells, I believe that the research will eventually occur in the manner of the phrase, “What can happen will happen.” Despite the moral opposition of various groups, it probably will proceed. Stem cell research is potentially very helpful; it could bring cures to devastating diseases and in general bring scientists a greater understanding of the human body. From a medical standpoint, the research could save countless lives, even though it would destroy a stem cell.
The readings for this subject covered a range of opinions. Most of those backed by religious groups asserted that all stem cell research is wrong and should not be used, though there were exceptions. We read a couple of articles with opposing views, by Elizabeth Blackburn and Gilbert Meilaender, of which I stand in the middle. I think that some of the research should continue, but discussing the issues and finding alternatives is also very important. I do not think that scientists should rush into anything.
As with most controversial issues, a clear line cannot be drawn between what is and is not ethical. Unfortunately, since there have to be set rules, a line does have to be drawn. Though I do not know enough scientific information to make an exact statement, I think a point should be chosen such as it has been in the trimester system for abortions.
Since the line will be such a thin one, I do not think researchers will have a problem crossing it in certain situations. This is hard to monitor and probably inevitable. However, I think that America will never cross certain points in acceptability. Certain things will never be allowed by the public, and hopefully researchers will not cross these lines.
For right now, I think the U.S. should continue its current policy of not giving government funding to stem cell research. There is enough opposition to the research in America right now that a change would not go over well. So, the research should be privately funded if it is to occur. However, I think that eventually America will be ready to fund the research. As with all controversial issues, I think that this one needs a sort of buffering period before it is more widely accepted. If stem cell research begins to prove truly beneficial, I anticipate some people lessening their opposition to it.
In conclusion, I understand the opposition to stem cell research and partly agree, but I think the research could have such great benefits that it should be allowed. The research should proceed slowly, as I think that the opposition will decrease over time. The country seems to be in a particularly conservative phase right now, one that I think will not last. As a means of remaining a scientific superpower and of advancing medically, I think the United States will support and facilitate stem cell research sooner or later.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

 

Stem Cells

Journal Assignment #6

Stem cell research has the prospective to do amazing things for mankind: the idea of potentially curing cancer, finding a way for barren woman to have children, or even having someone who was paralyzed walk again is mind-boggling, and to think that stem cells could help these processes along. How could someone not want these medical breakthroughs to occur? Yet these medical breakthroughs have not come to fruition as of yet. Adult stem cell research is still in early stages of investigation, and embryonic stem cell research is limited at this point. I think that adult stem cell research should be perfected before embryonic stem cell research is introduced in a more prominent level.

I realize that during the IVF process, there are many unused embryos that are eventually discarded, when they could be used for stem cell research, but once the stem cell is extracted from the embryo, that potential life has ended. Even though this embryo is not considered “alive” by many, I think that if it has potential for life, it should not be destroyed without considerable research and background information surrounding the issue. Once adult stem cell research, which does not require the destruction of a potential life, has been declared faultless, and then I think more research and funding should be put into embryonic stem cells. However, until then, I do not think the ends of destroying an embryo to obtain stem cells justify the means.

I most strongly agree with the Episcopal Church’s view on stem cell research. They concluded that "it is in keeping with our call to heal the afflicted to make use of embryos already held in fertility clinics”. However, the church does not believe in creating embryos solely for research. The Episcopal Church is of the view that it is imperative to aid those who are ailing through stem cell research, but not creating more embryos at this point. Along the same lines, I also agree with President Bush’s take on the stem cell issue; even though many think that this is an unsatisfactory compromise, I think it provides scientists with the opportunity to research adult cells before extensive funding is given towards embryonic stem cell research. I know I am considered very conservative in my views, and I do strongly agree with the Republicans concerning this issue. I am a Christian and I believe my views reflect this fact, since I even consider an embryo to be living with a soul. I would most likely face opposition against those with more liberal views, and those who do not consider an embryo to be a human yet. But then when and what is considered to be a human, or alive? It is again the “slippery slope” that we discussed frequently in class. It just depends on where one draws the line on this issue. I think that it all comes down to when you considered an embryo to be “alive”: a blastocyst, an embryo, a fetus, an infant? I think where you draw this line is where your view lies in the stem cell issue.

Ethics also plays a big role in this controversy. It all lies in your opinion and own personal view. Is extracting the stem cells from an embryo, and inevitably destroying it, obliterating a potential human life? Or are you of the opinion that you are destroying a potential “life” in exchange for great medical breakthroughs? But then one has to consider that stem cell research may not yield amazing medical results. I strongly believe that this why we must first perfect adult stem cell research before delving into the controversial issue of embryonic stem cells.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

eXTReMe Tracker