now for some theology and bioethics. i have been accused by christian fundamentalists of spouting strange theology, and i return the compliment. they do the same. here are some examples.
the whole premise here is that the human embryo/fetus is somehow blessed by god at the moment of conception. why only at the moment of conception? every egg and sperm cell also has the potential to become human, so they should also be considered worthy of the same respect, and so they must have souls as well. and so on, ad infinitum. each human cell is capable of creating a clone of the entire human, therefore it has a soul; so no human cell should ever be destroyed. does that include even cancer cells? or even the cells that you destroy, you bad person, when you brush your teeth? or when you smoke a cigarette? or just by being alive?
this also brings out a patent fallacy in christian theology: the raising of humans above all other creation. they claim only humans have souls. why are humans so superior? does god not think its other creations are worthy of having souls? i once posted an article on this blog on the secret lives of cows: they too exhibit various human-like emotions, including jealousy, anger, cliquishness, etc. how do you know they don't have souls?
and suppose we were to suddenly find, through the search for extra terrestrial intelligence, an intelligent alien species? do they have a soul? if not, why not? if they do have a soul, do they have a different god, the god of the aliens that gave them a soul? if the aliens are more intelligent than humans, does it mean the god of the aliens (let's say they are spider-like) is superior to the god of the humans? does it mean that the god of the christian fundamentalists (i referred to him as GOF, god of the fundamentalists, in an article i wrote years ago) is only the god of human christians, a tribal, limited god? after all GOF is supposed to have created humans in his image, and the spider-like aliens are not in GOF's image: GOF is an old man with a flowing beard. imagine the confusion if a spider-alien wanted to become a christian! how could he, since he has no soul, or his soul is tied to a different GOA, god of aliens?
what if, through a normal process of evolution, new super-human species are created? this comes up against the same soul issues.
so this whole business of the soul is shady. so is the exclusivism applied first to christians and then to humans: as if only they have some direct hotline to GOF. all of the others are second-class. ironically, this actually implies, logically, that the GOF is a second-class tribal god, not the One, the Creator of the Universe.
i personally think all beings have souls, and they are not inferior to humans. the Creator, the One, did create them all and its purpose was not to create slaves for humans. other beings are just different. so if one is willing to run experiments on rhesus monkeys and mice, and harvest their tissue, blood, whatever, then there should be no legitimate reason to oppose the same with human tumors or non-viable human fetuses either.
this whole fuss over human stem cells is pseudo-religious tripe. on the other hand, i do agree that a certain amount of respect needs to be paid. i wouldn't suggest the chinese method of wholesale abortion and consumption of aborted fetuses. that is simply nauseating.
i am also not a science fundamentalist, i hasten to add. there are dogmatists there too. i think a practical via media is possible where one respects religion (i am a deeply religious person) and at the same time recognizes the value of science. neither should put on airs because both are imperfect models for the universe. neither is infallible.
for instance, science could not satisfactority explain the tsunami, why it happened when it happened and when it will happen again. religion could not satisfactority explain the tsunami and why it was god's will to make it happen.
the church, in its finest traditions, is blocking stem-cell science as it always has blocked any new advance. this is how europe did not progress for a thousand years, until the s0-called enlightenment destroyed the deadening influence of the church. they do it just like the JNU blocks progress (yet again demonstrating that marxism is a semitic religion). the image of galileo recanting his theories under pressure is the symbol for these dogmatists. or that of giordano bruno being burned at the stake. or of leon trotsky being 'erased' from history books.