Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Blogging on Stem Cells


There's been alot of blogging on stem cell research lately and I like Happy Catholic's comments on the subject and what she put together. I'm not a pro at any of this, I just want to put in my thoughts. I think I would summarize the argument with these premises:


  1. Embryonic Stem cell research is parts farming and is killing a human being. (Honestly that's what it is. Anyone who has seen the movie "The Island" knows what I'm talking about).

  2. Killing others to make us more comfortable is wrong.

  3. It hasn't worked, other research (ex.- adult stem cells) has worked. Spend the money where it has the most benefit.

The premise that I have seen argued against most often seems to be #2, only it is usually presented as "I don't want to deal with such and such a disease, this research helps to stop the suffering, therefore it is necessary." The argument is based on the premises that:



  1. Suffering should be stopped

  2. Embryonic stem cell research could cure many forms of suffering

  3. Therefore, we should have embryonic stem cell research

First of all, the first premise assumes that all suffering is bad. To argue this point, the supporter says for example "We know that it gets hot in Texas. We have decided to take action against the heat by creating air conditioning and cooling the hot Texas air. Living in the heat is suffering, it was good to change the situation, therefore overcoming suffering is good. Embryonic stem cell research could possibly stop suffering therefore, based on our earlier logic we can conclude that it is good."


This is not the case however because we can also say that "Exercise causes pain. Pain is suffering, but exercise makes us better physically, therefore suffering is good." Of course suffering comes in different degrees and alzheimers disease is a greater type of suffering than exercise but, perhaps the gain from the greater suffering of alzheimers is more important than that of exercise, except it is in a way not as obvious, such as in a spiritual fashion. One could even argue that suffering from the Texas heat is good because it reminds us that there is a heavenly place (even as close to heaven as aggieland is!) to look forward to where the a/c is always on! We can see that suffering can be both good and bad. There must be then a decision necessary to decide what is good suffering and what is bad suffering, but most importantly we have shown that the first premise is not always correct and so we have cast doubt on the pro-embryonic stem cell argument.


The second premise, that embryonic stem cell research could cure many forms of suffering, cannot be denied. However, neither can you say that leaches could not possibly cure a head ache, as unlikely as it is. My point is this, the possibility is there but the chances are somewhat slim compared to other potential treatments. We have plenty of evidence other stem cell types work, adult stem cells, and stem cells from umbilical cords to name two. Even liberal sources like PBS couldn't deny this. This article "Conflicting Research" is titled in such a way as to give the impression that non-embryonic stem cell research won't work, but as you read the article you realize that the data collected from experimentation using adult stem cells is vastly superior to anything gained from embryonic stem cell research. I use tylenol on my head aches, not leaches.


The conclusion then, that we should have embryonic stem cell research is not conclusive and it is rather doubtful at this point that embryonic stem cell research can do anything that other moral forms of treatment can't do better, cheaper and faster.


I think the biggest problem with all these ESCR arguments is that they tend to assume the lifelessness of an embryo, or that taking the life of an embryo is okay given the empathy the arguer assumes we should have for the suffering of another. If we don't support killing embryos for their possible cure, then we are called heartless by the media.


This really touches the same source of error as the abortion baby-killers. Life for us should be comfortable, so take whatever measures necessary to secure our comfort. I think if you took a poll (I haven't looked for any) looking at the percentage of the population that supports abortion and that percentage which supports ESCR you would find them to be roughly the same, heck it would be the same exact group of people. You can see this group when you look at Blue America (which incidently is why we need to get out the Republican pro-life vote this November). The assumptions come because we've lost sight of God in our country. To quote Dostoyevski like yesterday “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.” This is never "permissable" in an argument concerning politics of course because the "separation of church and state" is invoked. If we leave our beliefs at the door however, where will we get?


Back to the stem cell argument, I've seen new attempts to make it look better like in THIS article. The article claims that they can now get stems cells from embryos without killing the embryos. What they try to pass off a little slyly is that:



"The first new method still subjects a human embryo to a small risk, and the
second involves deliberately creating an embryo with a disabled version of a
gene that is crucial to normal development, reported the Washington Post."

I hope everyone will see through this little effort at pushing on with ESCR.


Well, that's my two cents worth on the subject. I think I got a little roamy there for a while so please correct me if I got my arguments confusing.

1 comment:

Ash said...

check this out!

http://www.startribune.com/510/story/777447.html