Difference between magic and science
What is the difference, and what if it determined life or death for your own child?Say your son has a disease that is at this time incurable, yet the doctors involved claim research into stem-cell production shows tremendous potential for a possible cure, one that will at the very least allow your child to live for years.But then your religious leader says, “Wait, embryos are destroyed in order to harvest those stem cells, and according to (insert whatever gobbledygook you happen to currently believe), that is murder.””But it could save my child’s life!” you plead.”It does not matter,” he sanctimoniously responds. “I will pray for you both nonetheless.”Fighting the urge to rip out the man’s entrails for his ignorance, you turn not one but both cheeks away, pledging from that moment forward to fight for stem-cell research, and perhaps look into finding a new form of magic to blindly follow.The religious leader’s response is, in effect, what President Bush has recently said to over 300 million Americans, tens of millions which could benefit directly from such research today.The president has so far signed over 1,100 bills into law without a single veto, yet now he promises veto numero uno if the Senate passes legislation to expand federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed last fall in a 238-194 vote.And it is all because of a belief system claiming human life is “a sacred gift from our creator,” and the very instant male and female gametes combine to form a single zygote cell, a soul is magically allocated and BING! we have ourselves a new magical spirit inhabiting a complete human being. Although 100 percent completely void of evidence for such a thing, President Bush stills believes it strongly enough to enforce that belief on the rational world as well.That means us, folks. I realize some individuals need blind faith to somehow validate meaning in their lives and provide hope for an afterlife (who wants to die?), but I also am fully aware that exceedingly intelligent people are capable of extraordinary self delusion. As Dr. James Randi said, “Blind belief can be comforting, but it can easily cripple reason and productivity and stop intellectual progress.”It is one’s personal choice to have such blind faith. But when government policy is created based upon that faith, then millions upon millions are forced to suffer the confining consequences.Regardless of one’s perceived moral foundation, to not do this research is simply morally and ethically wrong.I choose science over magic any day, as the results of science work whether one believes in it or not. Life as we know it is chemistry, rules and structure. At conception you have nothing but a cluster of cells that form into a cohesive mass of structured cells connected to a life support system provided by a surrogate body, aka Mom. They cannot survive outside the surrogate.The stem cells in question are blank at this point yet have the potential to develop into any type of cell in the body – nerve cells, kidney cells, heart cells, etc. Scientists attempt to harvest the cells before they have distinguished their direction and assist them into becoming whatever types needed. Successfully growing cardiac cells might be able to replace damaged heart tissue of a heart attack victim; nerve cells to repair brain cells damaged by Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s; cancer cells of all types; diabetes; even the injured spinal cord of a paraplegic. The possibilities are virtually endless. How could anyone with a heartbeat say “veto”?There are obvious connections here with the abortion debate, and this is an election year after all, but I still hope the president can reach into his own heart, without the hurtful and damaging delusions of religion, and consider how his monumental decision could affect one of his own children in addition to tens of millions of others.Perhaps then he could see the true light of difference between magic and science.Unfortunately, all we can do is hope.Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at email@example.comVail, Colorado
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