The current society that is our body of electeds seems so often without balance, without insight, without the ability to reason. And instead appear to approach all issues as seduction: whose opinion scent wafts the most heady, followed by as many legislators stumbling popularity-fevered down the idea hallway toward a big, winning pool where they will jump as if following a ringing bell and the promise of a sweet apple after they land in the water below.
In other words, today’s Congress lacks ethical intellect and certainly most among the Congress lack courage to speak out — and legislate — based upon reason in lieu of some mish-mash of amorality (the illegal immigration issue is certainly showing the real substance, or lack thereof, as to many recently).
But the stem cell research issue is also so showing. Not many voters — certainly few in Congress, from the sound of things — understand the biology involved as to what “medical/scientific research” actually is nor what the different types of existing stem cells are and which among those pose what promise or possibility for what “cures” as to various illnesses and health problems loved ones (or themselves) contend with.
One year of undergraduate biology curriculum is sufficiently informative as to learning the basics about stem cells and why the type of stem cells called “embryonic stem cells” are not the likeliest as to holding promise for research — the theoretical goal here is to enable undifferentiated cells to become specific, to become differentiated cells (stem cells are undifferentiated cells, they have not assumed a fixed characteristic that other cells have and so remain “flexible” in possibility as to which type of cell they could potentially become, but not that they are going to become any differentiated cell type, just that they pose potential to become a differentiated type).
And yet we listen to high-profile pitch after pitch about the need for cures for problems and the hope that “embryonic stem cells” will reveal some cure, or at least insistence that the use of them is the place to look. Instead, most medical research seeks out stem cells of OTHER sources, non-embryonic ones, as posing the greatest possibility for information or useful resource(s) and yet the public has glommed onto this insistence (inaccurately) that it is EMBRYONIC stem cells that are the must-haves. It is a wrong, ill-informed and/or uninformed opinion and most among our uneducated public (uneducated in issues of biology and cell composition, cell types, human and mammalian physiology and organic chemistry) are responding to high-profile misguidance and not to science, not to reality.
And, as some ARE aware, embryonic stem cells are parts of a human being in embryonic form. You cannot have an embryonic stem cell unless you have a conceived human being from whom to abstract or remove an embryonic stem cell. To access embryonic stem cells is to, literally, dissect a living, human being in their earliest (and most vulnerable) existence, even when their existence is in a suspended state if they’re stored as embryos — still a human being, the result of conception involving conjoining of egg and sperm.
Since the public is not easily attracted to the biology and chemistry involved in these issues, they’re attracted instead to insistence, even when insistence is upon the nonsensical, the illogical, the wrong path, the inaccurate direction. They “must have” embryonic stem cells “for medical research” because they perceive restraints of an ethical kind and not scientific fact nor theory that explains both the ethics involved but also the wrong path toward discovery.
Because that, that emotion of insistence for sheer sake of will alone, appears to be what is driving and motivating this meme about the “need for” embryonic stem cells: people hear someone with a moving tale about suffering who hopes that embryonic stem cells pose the area of salvation, of cure for their condition — from an uninformed perspective and yet revealing influence by other, often unrevealed sources because they are aware of “embryonic stem cells” and yet not understanding of the biological misguidance of their insistence.
I mean by this, to even know about embryonic stem cells is to reveal that one is influenced by some other plan or process, unless a person is educated in biology and most of the high-profile proponents of “embryonic stem cell research” who I have heard and read from are not educated in biology nor indicate any knowledge as to biology nor chemistry nor cell physiology.
So the point of “meme issue” here is why the focus on embryonic stem cells and not on other stem cells that actually DO pose promise for science? There’s an insistence for something based upon the need for cures of suffering but it’s insistence on the wrong resources and not many among those insisting appears to know what process it is they’re insisting on and why they are. They just want to feel better and avoid further suffering (commendable, good things) but insisting on embryonic stem cells for “the scientists” is not sensible, nor realistic, nor efficient if they actually DO hope for cures.
And, given that scientific research and the people engaged in it need every dollar they can find, they are not a community likely to be trying too hard to throw a damper on any trend that is insisting on increased public and private dollars be spent on research. As are very few among science never eager nor patient to explain to a layperson what it is they have garnered in four-to-eight years of college-level science education (or in many cases, several decades of ongoing study). The issue as to “embryonic stem cell research” is easily recognized by the trained mind as being confused among the public but few science specialists are interested in devoting much time or effort in discussing why.
But, with embryonic stem cells, there is a greater area of concern that has to be discussed, beyond the science and the often inaccurate focus by the public upon embryonic stem cells when they should be insisting on funding for increased stem cells from other sources and not from embryos. And that discussion is also above the ability of most in Congress, unfortunately, who are so easily attracted to the non-sensible, non-productive, even abusive application of public (and private) dollars.
And this remarkable article, “‘Imposing Our Beliefs’ on Others”
From that article, there is this:
Recently I was asked to speak in Virginia at legislative hearings about embryonic stem cell research. After I gave my testimony, one of the senators asked a pointed question. “Father Tad, by arguing against embryonic stem cell research, don’t you see how you are trying to impose your beliefs on others, and shouldn’t we as elected lawmakers avoid imposing a narrow religious view on the rest of society?” The senator’s question was an example of the fuzzy thinking that has become commonplace in recent years within many state legislatures and among many lawmakers.
Two major errors were incorporated into the senator’s question. First, the senator failed to recognize the fact that law is fundamentally about imposing somebody’s views on somebody else. Imposition is the name of the game. It is the very nature of law to impose particular views on people who don’t want to have those views imposed on them. Car thieves don’t want laws imposed on them which prohibit stealing. Drug dealers don’t want laws imposed on them which make it illegal to sell drugs. Yet our lawmakers are elected precisely to craft and impose such laws all the time. So the question is not whether we will impose something on somebody. The question is instead whether whatever is going to be imposed by the force of law is reasonable, just, and good for society and its members.
The second logical mistake the senator made was to suppose that because religion happens to hold a particular viewpoint, that implies that such a viewpoint should never be considered by lawmakers or enacted into law. Religion teaches very clearly that stealing is immoral. Would it follow that if I support laws against stealing, I am imposing my narrow religious viewpoint on society? Clearly not. Rather, the subject of stealing is so important to the order of society that religion also feels compelled to speak about it. Religion teaches many things that can be understood as true by people who aren’t religious at all. Atheists can understand just as well as Catholics how stealing is wrong, and most atheists are just as angry as their Catholic neighbors when their house is broken into and robbed.
Gratitude to THE LAIR OF THE CATHOLIC CAVEMEN for the link to this wonderful article.
We can discuss the science or we can argue the popularity indexes of who wants what to define when life begins. People are not often capable nor interested in arguing the science so they argue the worth of their opinion in comparison or contradiction of the merit of opinion of others. All fine and well for public discourse of a conceptual kind, but when it involves human life — preserving it, altering it, concluding it, cannibalizing it, ending it — the discussion requires another level of discussion and that is one of ethics. Not surprisingly to me, it takes a man of bioethics to remind Congress what the nature of “legislation” actually is.