In case you missed the news this week:
1. Scientists Clone Human Embryos To Make Stem Cells
2. This is not the first time human embryos have been cloned, but it is the first time they have survived long enough to either be implanted in a uterus or destroyed for their stem cells (these scientists did the latter).
3. Let the Cloning Obfuscation Begin — Wesley Smith on the misleading info about cloning science in the media. No, scientists did NOT “clone stem cells”. They cloned human embryos, human beings in their earliest stages of development, and harvested them for their stem cells.
4. Cloning Obfuscation 2 — more junk science.
5. Human Cloning Obfuscation 3 — and even more.
6. Three Parent Embryos and the Brave New United States — note that this latest cloning “breakthrough” like the first one, was not done in some underground lab in China, but in the good old USA (Oregon to be exact) where there are no restrictions on this or other once unthinkable kinds of human experimentation currently in practice.
7. Self Regulation Science Doesn’t Work — Wesley Smith again. This is important. It is disturbing how willing we are to leave important ethical decisions up to anybody wearing a white coat. Scientists aren’t necessarily ethicists. And, to quote Pope Benedict:
“If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man’s ethical formation, in man’s inner growth (cf. Eph 3:16; 2 Cor 4:16), then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.” (Spe Salvi, 22)
Check out the latest episode of BioTalk for more on what the Catholic Church has to say about biotechnology.
Bonus: Would Human Clones Have Souls? — a few conversations I’ve had with my grandfather and with former MO Governor Matt Blunt about so-called “reproductive” human cloning. Both Wesley Smith and Rebecca Taylor agree that, whether they admit it or not, ultimately this is where researchers want to take this science.
Go see Jen for more QTs!
I’ve been meaning to share an article a friend of mine wrote recently that reminded me of these words from Archbishop Charles Chaput that I have shared here on this blog several times over the years:
Party loyalty is a dead end. It’s a lethal form of laziness. Issues matter. Character matters. Acting on principle matters. (Render Unto Caesar)
Referring to a Salon article in which Irin Carmon criticized Eden Foods for “marketing itself to a liberal clientele and then quietly harboring a right-wing, ideological agenda” when they challenged the now-infamous HHS mandate, Jason Hall writes:
There is a critical lesson to be learned here, particularly for Catholics. Coming from a very partisan political background, I know well what it’s like to develop that bunker mentality where the other party is so dangerous that political debate becomes little more than a no-holds-barred effort to defeat them at all costs… A Republican who supports poverty programs or comprehensive immigration reform will be called a “moderate squish” and will often be purged in favor of a “true conservative.” A Democrat who supports true marriage and the right to life will be deemed insufficiently “progressive,” unless they can offer assurances that their views are still “evolving.”
When we succumb to these social pressures, we lose both our evangelical witness in our nation’s political life, as well as our prophetic voice. We are told we must pick one of the two sides to be relevant, but is that really true? Has that ever really worked for us in the past, or resulted in the Church’s voice being co-opted by political power players?
It took a while for me to figure this out. Not only has my understanding of all the issues changed over the years, but, after working behind the scenes at the MO State Capitol for a period of time, I came to find out that much of politics really is the game that everyone thinks it is — and, when it comes to life issues, the Republicans are just as likely to abandon the principles they claim to hold as the Democrats are to not hold them in the first place.
We are called to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. To the extent we are involved in political life, we should be a positive influence, not allow ourselves to be influenced. Our mission requires knowledge of our principles, a desire to be truly consistent with them, and a willingness to boldly proclaim what we know to be right. Only when we embrace this mission will we cease to be used by the political process and begin to change it.
In case you missed it yesterday:
A Philadelphia jury has found late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell guilty of murdering three of four babies in his capital murder trial.
He is also guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 abortion death of Karnamaya Mongar, a 41-year-old legal immigrant who died when his untrained staff administered an overdose of sedatives.
The jury found Gosnell guilty of murdering Babies A, C, and D. Gosnell quipped Baby A, who was photographed by one of his employees, Andrienne Moton, was big enough to “walk me to the bus stop.”
Now Gosnell awaits sentencing, which could include the death penalty (which, by the way, would do nothing to help advance the culture of life).
How has/will this trial impact the abortion debate going forward?
I hate to be a pessimist, but I’m not convinced that it will have a major impact in the long run. Perhaps we will see some more investigations into some of the more shady abortion businesses in the country, but, for the most part, I think people still do not associate Kermit Gosnell and the horrors that went on in his practice with mainstream abortionists or abortion facilities (if they know about him at all).
Perhaps I will have more thoughts on this in the future, but today I am driving back home after spending a few days with family in Ft. Lauderdale. In the meantime, please be sure to check out my previous post — Gosnell: It’s Not Just a Story About Abortion
Fr. Peter West takes a look at homosexuality and the Theology of the Body:
Polls show that most young people today, even those who identify themselves as Christians, have no problem with “same-sex marriage.”
If young people today are at all aware of what the Catholic Church teaches about marriage and human sexuality, what they think they know is often only a caricature of the truth. They see it as simply a set of prohibitions established by men. But what the Church actually presents is a vision of the beauty of marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman who are committed for life and open to the transmission of new human life. With this vision, “same-sex marriage” is an oxymoron, making about as much sense as a “squared circle.”
“Same-sex marriage” has been presented to the public as an issue of fairness. But the worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal. Leaders in the homosexual movement have themselves admitted that the promotion of “same-sex marriage” is a device to destroy the institution of marriage. A poster at a homosexual conference called the National Conference on Organized Resistance in 2008 read “Marriage is the proverbial burning building. Instead of pounding on the door to be let in…queers should be stoking the flames!”
Of course, our understanding of marriage has been damaged by the fruits of the sexual revolution: no-fault divorce, cohabitation, contraception, sterilization and abortion. What is our problem with changing the definition of marriage to accommodate same-sex couples? Are we being “unfair”?
Read more!! Part II coming soon!
The New Zealand based group Life TV has just launched a new video series that will explore pro-life themes in major mainstream Hollywood films. In the first video, Brendan, Chelsea and Tim talk about My Sister’s Keeper, which deals with the issue of “savior siblings.”
This preview video will give you a glimpse of some of the other movies coming up in future episodes. Be sure to subscribe to their YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on the latest videos.
I’ve talked quite a bit here about life issues in popular entertainment:
Pixar Wisdom: The World Needs More “Jackalopes”!
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
In America: My Kind of ‘Pro-Life’ Movie
Gattaca, Cloud Atlas and the Human Future
Science Fiction is Not-So Fictional Anymore
Once again, this blog has been deprived of cute babies for far too long. This one is technically not a baby, of course, but close enough. There are no words to adequately express how freaking adorable this is:
What does the Catholic Church have to say about biotechnology — and is she as “backward” thinking as most people believe? Rebecca Taylor and I discuss in the latest episode of BioTalk:
A few related links:
The Church Is Not Backward, But Forward — expanded thoughts from Rebecca on the far-reaching wisdom of the Church.
The Catholic Church is No Enemy of Science or the Infertile — the Church might reject third party reproduction, but she doesn’t condemn the use of science to treat infertility. In fact, she has helped develop highly effective reproductive medicine.
“Behind every “no” in the difficult task of discerning between good and evil, there shines a great “yes” to the recognition of the dignity and inalienable value of every single and unique human being called into existence.” (Dignitas Personae, Conclusion)
“If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man’s ethical formation, in man’s inner growth (cf. Eph 3:16; 2 Cor 4:16), then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.” (Pope Benedict, Spe Salvi, 22)
In the last episode of BioTalk, Rebecca Taylor and I talked all about transhumanism. Admittedly, it was probably the most “sci-fi-ish” sounding of all the pro-life 3.0 issues, but lest any of you consider some of our claims to be too outlandish to be taken seriously — specifically, the idea of people amputating perfectly healthy limbs and replacing them with “super-human” bionic ones — consider this article from MATTER.
The main focus is on a man named “David” who suffers from Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID), also known as “amputee wannabe,” and recently went to China to have one of his legs amputated.
In Patrick’s house, I saw a decorative skeleton hanging off a chandelier and didn’t think much of it. “Look more closely,” he urged. Only then did I notice that it, like Patrick, was missing part of a leg and part of one finger. Then there was a statue of Michelangelo’s David on the mantelpiece. It too was missing part of a leg. The family had acknowledged Patrick’s suffering and was celebrating his freedom from BIID. Patrick now seemed genuinely comfortable with his body.
A YEAR OR SO before Patrick’s operation, a psychologist asked him if he would take a pill to make his BIID go away, should such a treatment exist. It took a moment for him to reflect and answer: maybe when he had been a lot younger, but not anymore. “This has become the core of who and what I am,” he said. This is who I am. Everyone with BIID that I have interviewed or heard about uses some variation on those words to describe their condition. When they envision themselves whole and complete, that image does not include parts of their limbs. “It seems like my body stops mid-thigh of my right leg,” Furth told the makers of a 2000 BBC documentary, Complete Obsession. “The rest is not me.
Read the whole thing. Very bizarre and also very sad. As Wesley Smith notes, these days we often don’t treat mental illnesses, but instead, tend toward acceding to and normalizing them. The article doesn’t talk about these amputee wannabes getting bionic legs or anything, but make no mistake, besides medical and science journals like this one, the normalization of BIID is largely being pushed by the transhumanist movement.
A few quick takes for your weekend:
1. The Church Is Not Backward, But Forward — my good friend Rebecca on the far-reaching wisdom of the Church. This article will also give you an idea of what’s coming up in our next episode of BioTalk! I’ll be editing that this weekend.
2. The Church and Science: The Right Place at the Right Time — Teresa Tomeo reports on the Vatican’s Second Annual Conference on Adult Stem Cells.
3. Made to Order Embryo Commodities Market — Wesley Smith comments on an article in the New England Journal of Medicine titled, Made-to-Order Embryos for Sale — A Brave New World?
4. Speaking of BNW, I have finally started actually reading the book. Believe it or not, this was not something I ever had to read in high school. So, although I know generally what it’s supposed to be about, I’ve been feeling at a bit out of the loop as I’ve seen it referenced a lot lately in articles related to things I write about on a regular basis. Here is a particularly relavent passage I came across already:
“And (do you know what) ‘parent’ (is)?” questioned the D.H.C.
There was an uneasy silence. Several of the boys blushed. They had not yet learned to draw the significant but often very fine distinction between smut and pure science. One, at last, had the courage to raise a hand.
“Human beings used to be …” he hesitated; the blood rushed to his cheeks. “Well, they used to be viviparous.”
“Quite right.” The Director nodded approvingly.
“And when the babies were decanted …”
“‘Born,’” came the correction.
“Well, then they were the parents–I mean, not the babies, of course; the other ones.” The poor boy was overwhelmed with confusion.
“In brief,” the Director summed up, “the parents were the father and the mother.” The smut that was really science fell with a crash into the boys’ eye-avoiding silence. “Mother,” he repeated loudly rubbing in the science; and, leaning back in his chair, “These,” he said gravely, “are unpleasant facts; I know it. But then most historical facts are unpleasant.”
4. Finally, this week has been National Infertility Awareness Week. A good time to remind people that The Catholic Church is No Enemy of Science or the Infertile as she is often accused of being.
We all know that porn can effect someone mentally and emotionally (not to mention spiritually), but it turns out, unlimited access to pornography is having some adverse physical side-effects on young men, as well. An eye-opening TED talk from Gary Wilson:
This is a serious issue. According to some statistics, the average age at which a child first sees porn online is 11 with 90 percent of children ages 8-16 having viewed pornography online!
If you’re looking for a good internet filter for your family (or one just to keep yourself safe) check out CovenantEyes.com