When Religion and Science Just Doesnt Make Sense!

December 14, 2007

I wonder when was the last time you had a conversation with a bio-conservative? You know who they are don’t you? People who don’t believe in stem cell research or the sale of organs etc. Generally they tend to be technophobes, often seeing science as some pesky kid that’s building sand castles with plutonium or something that will bring the whole roof down – they worry no end, telling us how this was not meant to be or how if God meant it to be this way, then he would have provisioned for it yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Actually what these bio-fundamentalist are trying to say is: we should all register the “puih” factor associated with runaway biotechnology and instead draw a line between what science should and should not do. A large part of their argument lies in the notion of trusting the wisdom of nature – mother nature knows best – Yes, she does doesn’t she, that’s why we regularly have earthquakes, typhoons, tornados, mudslides and the odd tsunami. If mother nature was a human being she would certainly be a cross dressing Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin.

I am sorry! I don’t believe everything should be left to mother nature. Neither do I buy into the idea she knows best either. Just in case you didn’t know, the experts are telling us a bird flu pandemic is heading our way and it will make the bubonic plague look like the common cold. Just wait till those bio-conservatives get the shakes and make a beeline to the ICU in Tan Tock Seng. Trust mother nature, my foot!: no Tamiflu for you! Instead we call we will gladly call an African foreign talent the brotherhood knows called Mamba Jambala Yaba Da Badu – a registered witch doctor who even has his own set of tribal drums to dab a dab away the bird flu. Or better still we will get dai Sensei Fuk-ya-mah! From the Singapore Reiki Center to put some colorful crystals on your tummy while you, the trust mother bio-conservative melt happily away.

No I jest. To be really honest with you I have quite a lot of sympathy for bio-conservatives. For starters lets be open minded (by the way, your brains are spilling out), they do have a point don’t they: especially when they regularly point out, the questionable morality of organ sales or how genetic engineering simply smacks of God playing Sim City. I am not against the bio-conservatives per se, Believe it or not, I nurse my own reservations concerning the issue of where genetic engineering should start and end. Usually it hits me whenever I find myself wandering into a hypermarket wondering whether those tomatoes the size of footballs were grown next to the nuclear reactor. It’s scary when you consider what modern science can do these days. I am told even battery chickens these days have smaller brains, kidneys and stomachs. Modern science makes it all possible, to breed chickens with long and supple legs (why cant they do the same for women?) In genetic science tinkerland, nothing is impossible. Everything can be grafted, transplanted and fused. Crossing a scorpion with a cabbage get means creating a veggie that is naturally resistant to bugs – it makes good horticultural and business sense, but who is really going to eat it? (Oh silly me, that’s just a minor detail). Crossing a parrot with a Gorilla? Gets you, eerh I don’t know, but when it starts talking you better start listening. You get my point. You get their point. Those bio-conservatives do have a case after all, but how cogent is it? Are their fears about run away train technology closer to fiction or reality? Is it premised on hard evidential facts or is much of it simply conjecture?

Well consider the bulk of criticism concerning genetic engineering actually comes from religious adherents, namely the Vatican. They argue that at the moment of conception, a supernatural figure (‘God’) implants an invisible attribute (‘a soul’) into a mitotic cluster of cells. From that moment onwards the cells are magically transformed into a person with inalienable rights. Homo Vaticanus is alive! According to Catholicism to even probe them is morally the equivalent of gagging you and spreading you out on a pelt rack performing bondage. Stem-cell research it appears is Mengelian. Disposing embryos is murder. And having compelling conversations with Petri dishes is the in thing. This position is given currency on an international platform and its one that many bio-conservatives cite whenever they argue the case for reining in science.

I am not suggesting for one moment embryonic cells are for one moment insentient spittle on a Petri dish. Not at all, but lets consider their (the Vatican’s) logic. If there was an earth shattering earthquake and you happened to be just loitering around the biopolis would you plumb to risk your life to save a petri dish or a cute girl in a mini skirt? Exactly, you get my point, only because what at the end of the day, it makes more sense to save an actual human being rather than some seminal abstraction of life decreed by a bunch of old men.

And there’s an even bigger contradiction in terms. Human embryos are regularly flushed out in women’s menstrual flows. So why aren’t the erudite wonder girls in SPH, “the sisters of the perpetual hesitation” hauled up before the international court of justice in the Hague? Shouldn’t they stand trial for genocide or ethnic cleansing?

One clue accounting for why the bio-technology and genetic engineering continues to be a lightning rod is because so many misconceptions surround it. Most people find the concept of cloning repugnant, because they typically conjure up the imagery clones will be “robots” and “automatons”. Or worse still some uber man to even replace the likes of you and me. Neither is there are no shortage of scaremongers like Francis Fukuyama who have even conjured demented visions of “armies of the automata” based on cellular manipulation. But really is cloning that bad? I for one wouldn’t mind having two of me, just to pat me from time to time on the back just to tell me what a good job, I am doing. If the truth be known, there are already thousands, if not millions of clones in the world. They are called identical twins and triplets, and we have no difficulty understanding that although they share the same genetic profile, they are nonetheless individuals in every sense of the word. Does anybody really believe they are automatons? Or robots? That’s only true, if you subscribe to the belief genes exclusively maketh the man, but nothing can be further from the truth. As it discounts the value of how upbringing and inculcating the right values is usually a decider.

I don’t for one moment doubt given the proliferation of dystopian films like Ewan McGregor’s movie ‘The Island’ or Andrew Nicoll’s “Gattaca,” we may all harbor reservations about clones. But they are based on a flawed premise – that we would treat clones as lesser beings, not deserving of the basic rights as the rest of us. Why should that happen? We don’t treat IVF babies as we do slaves or even remotely close to anything resembling sub humans do we? That incidentally was what bio-conservatives once predicted.

The only argument that really lingers in the mind is where do we really draw the line? Do we say no to organ sales? Is it morally repugnant and wrong? Or does the sale of human organs fulfill a real humanitarian need? One which bio-conservatives are content to deny at all cost, even if it means extending or improving the quality of life of ordinary people like you and me. They warn that the encroaching reach of biotechnology may create a world divided between the exploiter and the exploited, the haves and the have not’s. Its a cogent argument none the less one that even has a respectable lineage qualifying as rational.

At the end of the day, do these bio-conservatives deserve even to be heard? Do they have a valid case premised on logic or diatribe? Really I don’t know just yet. In the meantime, perhaps we should follow the advice of C.S.Lewis in “The Lion, the witch and the Wardrobe.” If you meet anything that’s going to be human and isn’t yet, or used to be human once and isn’t now, or ought to be human and isn’t, keep your eyes on it and feel for the hatchet.

(By Astroboy, Keith Ho & Agnes P / Socio / Politics / Science – EP 9902393 -2007 – The Brotherhood Press 2007)

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6 Responses to “When Religion and Science Just Doesnt Make Sense!”

  1. prima delli said

    Great, hahahaha Humorous and very intelligent. ASTRO is really in his element! Kudos.

  2. blinded said

    the eminent cs lewis was known to have even questioned the logic of atonement.

  3. montburan said

    Dotty,

    I prefer the pic of the skull headed man weilding a machine gun. Wat r u really trying to accomplish by parading around? Looks uncomfortable Dearest.

  4. bear bear said

    Dotty,

    OMG that frock is really fetching. Looks like a Christmass Winter Sonata something with the specks of white strewn across a luscious black background, very fetching leh!

    How much? Where did you get it? It looks abit bak chang, if you dont mind me saying. I always wanted to wear a Cheong Sam, but I am a bit heavy around the waist line, but its always nice to see a lithe lass in one.

  5. loupargar said

    Really Funny, Informative and just hits the spot on a Monday Afternoon, Great Stuff BP! Never knew how much I missed the tag team AB and SB.

  6. loupargar said

    It will take our press quiet a while to reach this level of sophistication, they seem to be still struggling with basic bread & butter issues like trying real hard to persuade all of us why we dont need really need real news when we have the hyped and spun variety. I really dont know which is worst, the fact that there are actually ppl who are paid monthly salaries writing such articles or readers who are willing to pay good money to lap up such unmitigated diatribe.

    Something is seriously wrong here, I need to step out of my brain and take leave from my fish bowl existence. Thank God for BP!

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