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The Evangelical Argument on Stem Cells is Flawed4 min read

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My blogroll currently has 132 feeds, and I recently trimmed it down.  I now have my faith-related blogs in three folders, triage style.  The truth?  I usually don’t get to the second and third folders.  But I regularly add new faith blogs to my top tier, and move others down to the second and third tiers if they suck (IMHO, of course).

One of the blogs I am watching now is Reformation 21, which has a simple layout and some writers with some impressive sounding credentials.  Now, these guys are no Joe Carter, caretaker of what I consider to be the best Xian blog out there, the Evangelical Outpost (and now general editor of World Mag Blog, congrats Joe!), but they do have some decent content. 

But today, they pissed me off with this post on Embryonic Stem Cell Research.  This angered me for a few reasons:

  1. It it patronizing in its oversimplification.  It asks, "Is stem cell research morally complex?  No."  If it was simple as they suggest, then sensible people would not be arguing about it.  The only other conslusion they could reach is that the rest of us are not sensible like them.  Now, they might be right, but their attitude stinks.
  2. It asks the wrong question.  According to this post, the important question is "Are the embryos in question members of the human family?"  I think this is overly vague, which of course, leads to argument.   In their second bullet, they give their more specific reasoning for opposing stem cell research, which is the same old evangelical argument that the embryo is genetically unique.  However, my skin cells are unique too, but you don’t protect them from experimentation.  Anyway, the real question we are all trying to answer is, at what point does a zygote become a person with rights? As I have argued previously, we should probably measure that by some decent definition of life, like heartbeat, brainwaves, response to stimulus.  This might push the definition of personhood back to up to even a week after implantation, but conception?  I just don’t buy the "it’s genetically distinct with the potential to become a human."  I think that logic could easily flow back to demanding that boys cease masturbating because they are killing potential humans.  Seriously, I think the evangelical argument is flawed.

Now, I may be wrong on this one, since messing with reproduction and human experimentation should be approached very carefully.  But I think on this issue, religious conservatives are being extreme, and I believe extremists, who cease relying on logic and instead turn into chicken-little’s crying "the sky is falling", always end up losing to reasoned truth in the end (or end up killing their opponents and setting up totalitarian states).  But I digress.

This is why the pro-choicers and anti-religion secularists are losing in the polls – they are so out there, they have left reason altogether.  Everyone realizes that third trimester abortions are heinous, and quite possibly killilng children.  But organizations like Planned Parenthood are so out there, they need a reality check.   I think that the only reason that they still enjoy some popularity and government funding is that there are no rival organizations that promote abstinence with birth control.  If there are, I wanna know so we can fund them and defund PPOA.

One more thing.  My beloved PBS show Religion and Ethics Newsweekly had a very interesting segment on Excess Embryos.  Check it out.  They spoke to a pair of religious couples, each who took a different perspective on their "extra embryos" from in vitro fertilization.