Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jekyll and Hyde at CNN

Two very interesting opinion pieces were posted on CNN.com on Sept 16th. The first was about how the progress of adult stem cell research is making embryonic stem cell research unnecessary.

From the stem cell piece:
As you turn on your HDTV and watch the endless controversy over embryonic stem cell research, ask yourself: Should the government spend taxpayer dollars to develop that bulky old cathode-ray television you once owned?

As you install your $79 Blu-ray player, what if Uncle Sam was paying millions to develop Betamax videotapes?

This kind of government waste is what embryonic stem cell researchers are demanding even when science itself, according to scientists such as former NIH Director Bernadine Healy, has made embryonic stem cell research obsolete.

[and]

Adult stem cells have grown new corneas and tracheas, restoring sight and speech. Adult stem cells placed into children have repaired damage from fatal genetic skin diseases. As CBS News reported on August 2, adult stem cells appear to have the ability to stimulate tissue repair and to suppress the immune system.

"That gives adult stem cells really a very interesting and potent quality that embryonic stem cells don't have," said Rocky Tuan, director of a cellular engineering institute at the University of Pittsburgh.

The Church needs to do a better job of getting the word out that we are not anti-science, just pro-ethical science. Adult stem cells (induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSC) have great promise, have already demonstrated some exciting results, and come without the immoral destruction of unborn human lives.

And then there was this piece calling for a new moral code which included the following gems:

Although few of us would turn to the Old Testament or the Quran to determine the age of the Earth, too many of us still turn obediently to these books (or their secular copies) as authorities about morality. We learn therein the moral superiority of faith to reason and collective sacrifice to personal profit.

[and]

Ask someone on the street to name a moral hero; if he isn't at a loss, he'll likely name someone like Jesus Christ or Mother Teresa. Why? Because they're regarded as people of faith who shunned personal profit for the collective good. No one would dream of naming Galileo, Darwin, Thomas Edison or John D. Rockefeller.

Yet we should. It is they, not the Mother Teresas of the world, that we should strive to be like and teach our kids the same.

[and finally…]

If morality is about the pursuit of your own success and happiness, then giving money away to strangers is, in comparison, not a morally significant act. (And it's outright wrong if done on the premise that renunciation is moral.)

Science, freedom and the pursuit of personal profit -- if we can learn to embrace these three ideas as ideals, an unlimited future awaits.

Wow. I think that's kinda how we got Hitler. So for our society to truly progress we must come to accept that "morality is about the pursuit of your own success and happiness". If morality is solely centered on my own well being then nothing I do to you or your loved ones may be construed as morally wrong so long as it brings me personal happiness and fulfillment. That is truly a scary world to imagine. By this principle the 9/11 hijackers did not commit acts of evil, child molesters, rapists and murders should be commended for breaking free of outdated moral constraints. No thanks.

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