Saturday, March 22, 2008

Daring to eat of the tree of knowledge

Cardinal Keith O’Brien thinks that it’s “grotesque”, “hideous”, “monstrous”, “evil” and “crazy”.

Well, of course drumming bronze-age superstitions into young children’s heads via taxpayer-funded schools is wrong, but language like that is a little harsh, surely?

No, I’m just kidding! That’s not what he’s talking about at all:

What I am speaking of is the process whereby scientists create an embryo containing a mixture of animal and human genetic material.

With full might of government endorsement, Gordon Brown is promoting a bill that will allow the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos.

Yes, it’s curious that the Prime Minister should be doing something with government endorsement, but that’s the kind of constitutional mayhem we should be used to from new Labour.

What I particularly love about the fuming against “a mixture of animal and human genetic material” is that different animal species – including humans – share vast amounts of DNA. Genetically, I am mostly chimpanzee; you are mostly dog; Cardinal O’Brien is mostly rat.

This is the sort of thing that happens when you’re an evolved species rather than being the inbred descendants of a man made out of “the dust of the ground” and a woman then created out of genetic material from one of that man’s ribs and please don’t ask where the extra X chromosome came from.

The moral outrage is the outrage of a moral system that insists humanity should know its place and precious little more, and that esteems the sanctity of a microscopic few-days-old bundle of cells over the suffering of people with serious conditions who could benefit from new research.

(For more information, see the HFEA, which has details of the science, the history, international perspectives, and UK opinion polling and deliberative consultations.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to prepare myself to stuff my face in celebration of the fact that Jesus was executed by being sealed inside a giant chocolate ovoid, only to burrow out of it three days later in the reborn form of a bunny rabbit.

[Update: Nadine Dorries, anti-abortion Tory MP and sinister reactionary fact-blind idiot, has echoed the Archbisop:

It is a complete mystery to those who know that other methods of research are now available to develop treatments for those diseases which will supposedly benefit from cloning embryos. …
Like most things which pop up in Parliament and appear to have no rhyme or reason to them, just follow the money and all becomes clear: the Bill is a win for the biotechnology industry and lobby groups.

Ah, so it’s all about oil money.

A different view comes from a coalition of medical research charities:

The Bill will allow new avenues of scientific inquiry to be pursued which could greatly increase our understanding of serious medical conditions affecting millions of people throughout the UK, and ultimately lead to new treatments, at a time when such work is being significantly hampered by a shortage of donated human eggs available for medical research.

But, of course, the views of these “lobby groups” are, as Dorries reminds us, biased and unreliable. It is utterly irrefutable that medical research charities want to pursue pointlessly unproductive lines of research, so that they have nothing to show from their work. It’s completely beyond dispute that they want to publicly align themselves with a controversial technique so that they can attract criticism and risk losing donors.

Dorries concludes:

Let's hope reason and belief triumph by third reading.

Belief? Belief? If she had an ounce of courage she’d say ‘faith’. Two ounces for ‘dogma’ and three for ‘ignorant fear’.]


Anonymous said...

Your off your head

Tom Freeman said...

No, you're off your head.

Will said...

"u r off yer heed..."

Matt M said...

Everyday we grow closer and closer to making an army of winged monkeys a reality.

It's what Jesus would have wanted.

Chris said...

What I particularly love about the fuming against “a mixture of animal and human genetic material” is that different animal species – including humans – share vast amounts of DNA

Not just animals. Humans share 40% of our DNA with lettuce - lettuce and mushrooms have less in common genetically than lettuce and humans.

m said...

So if Jesus was reborn as a bunny rabbit and 40% of human DNA can be adequately compared to DNA in lettuce; it really is sad that my mind works in this way. I'll just blame it on television and junk DNA.

Any holiday is nice though, providing you don't have to struggle with traveling and no one tries to 'save' you.

m said...

Alright. After browsing some unrelated ‘news’, I take that back; however illogical my thinking process is, it isn’t as bad to make up terms like ‘shake your lettuce’. (How dare someone entice me to look up the urban meaning of lettuce)

Adding to the actual topic, people seemed to be taking issue with this around the deaf embryo story and some seemed a bit miffed that this issue wasn’t being addressed.

I do disagree with his birth certificate bill, I hope that doesn’t get a lot of weight behind it.

Is this more of a free vote issue now? Because they did say that they would be allowed not to vote (although, I’m not sure how that is taken in UK politics).

I don’t know which is right really, surely rather than this impacting their individual conscience more weight should be given to the opinion of those they represent? With the church getting into it, it’s possible they’re acting as a whip leader themselves. Now, I can’t be bothered with the theories that Brown hates Catholics because Brown hates Blair (hopefully claims won’t get more personal) . Although, considering Brown’s reason for not holding an election involved not wanting to be judged for crisis management but his vision for change, maybe it would be best for a free vote? Finally being a bit more open to other ideas about his vision for change?

I’m starting to loathe the word change, couldn’t they use ‘evolve’ and really tick some people off? That would be more fun…

Cassilis said...

Building on the same theme as Chris I recall a TV debate from the early 90's featuring a rather extreme animal rights activist - the '98% identical DNA to chimps' line formed a core part of her argument.

In the audience was an elderly woman who claimed to have studied genetics:

"But my dear," she said.

"You're approximately 70% aubergine too, are you proposing we offer rights to garden vegetables"

I've never been able to verify the exact truth of that stat but I suspect it's not far off the mark. The militant young lady's face was a picture....