Saturday, March 8, 2014

Churchianity's fear of medical science.

It seems scientists may be on the verge of being able to swap out a mother's mitochondrial DNA in a cell with that of another woman. You see, you inherit your chromosomal DNA from both parents, but your mitochondrial DNA from just your mother. As I understand it, mitochondrial DNA doesn't really have the same effect on your nature as chromosomal DNA, it more just has to do with being the power center of the cell, and can have a big effect on your aging. I'm by no means a doctor, so if I have that wrong any reader can feel free to correct me on that in the comment section.

Well, Eric Metaxas had something of a fit about it over on Breakpoint yesterday. Oh Metaxas, I really don't want to pick on you as much as I tend to, but you just constantly give such wonderful examples of what's wrong with Churchianity. He throws around the usually boogeymen, he calls it eugenics, says that it's going to make "Frankenkinder" and of course  makes the nebulous claim that it's "Playing God". I never understood that last one. Isn't all medical science playing God at some level? I mean maybe this proceedure is a bad idea, I'm not saying we shouldn't ask questions as medical science advances, but screaming "playing God!" at every step it takes is not the way to have that conversation. This is the same mentality that was against blood transfusions and organ transplants when those things were new. But most egregiously in this article Metaxas slanders the researchers of the human genome project as Godless mad scientists quoting author Roger Shattuck that they were "“often more interested in genomes … than in humans.” Many of them thought nothing of “editing our genetic text.”". Never mind that the director of that project was a Christian named Francis S. Collins, who considered the study of genetics to be an act of worship as he marveled at God's handiwork and hoped his research could cure, or at least better treat things like Cystic Fibrosis. It's also of note that Metaxas rather quickly brushes off claims that this mitochondrial DNA swap could be used to cure afflictions as mere "justification" for this clearly unjustifiable mad science. That's not a surprising attitude, remember these are the same types of people that actually argue that we should not attempt to cure Down Syndrome. Churchianity practically spiritually fetishizes suffering and weakness.

Now certainly there needs to be some basic ethical restraints on how research is conducted, but it isn't really the methods that Churchians really hate and fear, it's the discoveries. They don't want us to know how the world and universe around us functions. It's not just the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they don't want to eat from, but the Tree of the Knowledge of Any Kind they recoil from. Metaxas says in his article "some things are better left unknown", because "for every Prometheus, there is a Pandora’s box".

There's just one problem with that head in the sand approach. Technological advancement and scientific discovery are all but inevitable. So long as civilized man walks the earth, he shall pursue these things.  I'm not saying that there shouldn't be rules applied to these pursuits, as I said we need ethical restraints about the methods of research, nobody wants a bunch of Dr. Joseph Mengeles torturing and murdering people on the alter of science, but these rules need to work like a damn in a river. A damn doesn't seek to stop all water from flowing in the river, otherwise it would eventually spill over or worse the damn would break, instead the damn channels the water into a controllable, and harnessable way. Metaxas is right that science can open a Pandora's Box every now and then, but what he fails to understand is that those boxes WILL be opened. So instead of trying in vain to keep them closed, maybe we would do better to prepare and brace for their opening. Perhaps one of the most iconic examples is the idea of artificial intelligence. If it is indeed possible for man to create machines with independent thought and wills of their own we eventually will, so maybe instead of trying to prevent that inevitability, we should be thinking about how we will live with this new creation of ours. The only sane way to deal with inevitability is to actually try to prepare for it.

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