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February 06, 2008


c matt

There are also fears that children born from artificial eggs and sperm will suffer severe health problems, like the mice in the Newcastle experiments

Of course they don't mention this part until several paragraphs into the story.

"Male and female He created them .... and then they messed it up."


Yep, we're all going to hell.

Ed Peters

Why are the Brits constantly on the cutting edge of the sickest science?

David B.

Because they rise at 9:00 A.M.?


enough conceptual grossness in your post, Jimmy, I don't think I can bring myself to click on the link. I don't think it's because they rise at 9 am, being a late sleeper myself and not inclined in the least to perverse science.

David BB. Gunn

Just joking... ;-)

David B.

My temperary moniker had naught to do with "B.B." over on "MORE On When To Wipe The Ashes Off." Just being clear.


AGHH! Next time warn us before you say, "human r**********e cells."

Tom P

I'm really glad that it's been a while since I've eaten...'cause that's at the top of the sick list. Oh, the depths of perversion we sink to.

And for the ultimate in head-spinning projectile sickness, perhaps there's a 50/50 chance that a male parent could end up with a female clone of himself?

Mike Melendez

"Oh, brave new world that has such people in it."


I wonder what Mary Shelley would have to say about this.

Tim J

"Shoals of dead fish float on the lakes,
but Uncle Sam's on Mars
And science is making the same mistakes,
but Uncle Sam's on Mars
No one down here knows how to work the brakes,
but Uncle Sam's on Mars"

- Hawkwind


The sad thing is: with out of wedlock pregnancies and singler women having babies being so prevalent and accepted, gay unions and adoption being on the way to being acceptable, and In-vitro being thought OK even among some of my fellow protestants, many people can't articulate why this is so wrong- even if they experience the initual "yuk" factor. After all, wasn't there an initual "yuk" factor with the first"test tube" baby-(in 1978) and now it's almost ho-hum. We need another expanded and update Donum Vitae!


Strange, sad, and scary! I wonder if the science implies that women's cells could only be used to create female babies. (Obviously the male option they are also working on could produce either gender.)


But critics warn that it sidelines men and raises the prospect of babies being born through entirely artificial means.

As the scientists *YAWN* and say, "So What"?


Maybe this will cause more Protestants to recognize the problem with "in vitro".


This reminds me of Cordwainer Smith's fiction in which "normal" people are horrified and sickened by having children through natural means. He envisioned a time when genetic engineering is the norm and "unengineered" people are freaks.

It's so strange how the world begins to emulate the worst elements of nightmarish fiction.


>I wonder if the science implies that women's >cells could only be used to create female babies.
Well, with no Y chromosomes involved, of course all the babies would be female ! unless they come up with a way to make Y chromosomes artifically as well...
I think we'll probably see completely male-free, self-reproducing female communities spring up by the end of the century. Heck, we've already got many communities where the majority of the males are only around for conception. It might even be harder to show the pathology of female-only communities, as the majority of the obviously anti-social behaviors connected with father absence (robberies, rapes, murders, etc.) are committed by young men. With no males at all, such communities would almost certainly have a lot less violent crime than current fatherless neighborhoods.


I suppose I don't see the big deal. How is this any different than a gay couple raising a child conceived any other way? "Unnatural" is a fairly meaningless concept. Organ transplants are "unnatural" on an order of magnitude greater than this. That doesn't mean we should quit them.

Tim J.

"'Unnatural' is a fairly meaningless concept"

Only if you find nature to be meaningless.


Well, not meaningless, but ill-defined. The term presumes a priori that their is a natural order, and that that order is intrisically better than the alternative. I don't think that is always the case. Certainly consideration for unforseen consequences should be made, and moral impact be considered, but I don't think natural is always better. Like in the case of organ transplant, for example. Some churches forbid such surgeries on the grounds of natural law. That seems really wrong to me, because the operation causes no harm.

I generally don't think much of expensive fertility procudres, they seem wasteful to me, but I know some people for whom the inmability to have a child is extremely painful, if this can help them, I have a hard time being against it.

By the way, my earlier post comes off sounding really snotty. It wasn't meant that way. Sorry.


Well, not meaningless, but ill-defined. The term presumes a priori that their is a natural order, and that that order is intrisically better than the alternative.

Tim, you may not be familiar with the definitions and distinctions of Catholic natural law theory, but it's a mistake to assume that they aren't well-defined.

For example, you give organ donations as a counter-example of an "unnatural" but beneficial medical procedure. It's a reasonable mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.

"Natural" in Catholic natural law theory does not mean "whatever happens naturally without artificial intervention." Natural does presuppose a teleology to nature and in particular to human nature, so that one can speak meaningfully, for example, of health and dysfunction.

In this sense, a cancerous organ could be called "unnatural" in that it is contrary to the natural and proper function of the organ in question, and medical interventions that are therapeutic and aimed at remediating such dysfunction promote the natural order of the body and are in keeping with natural law.

By contrast, medical interventions that are not therapeutic or aimed at remediating dysfunction, but are contrary to the teleology of the body, from mutilations to sterilizations to artificial fertilization, are contrary to natural law.


I didn't select organ transplant arbitrarily, the Romanian Orthodox Church actually does forbid organ transplant on the grounds that it "confuses the nature" of the individual.

I'm familiar with the concept of teleos. But when i look at that list: "mutilations to sterilizations to artificial fertilization", I start hearing that song from Sesame street, one of these things is not like the others. How is the procedure in the article (assuming, to simplify things, that it is being performed for a sterile man so he can have a child with his wife) any different from growing a cloned organ from the stem cells and implanting it? Both of them divert the function of the stem cell to produce an effect which is beneficial to the patient.

(By the way, if I am being rude by debating this, let me know, I don't want to be disrespectful, I just enjoying discussing religion and philosophy and whatnot.)


Not to worry, Tim, polite cross-examination is not considered rude here at JA.o. :-)

I hear you that my list isn't exactly homogeneous. But neither is yours, in more than one respect.

Sterility is a pathology of a specific bodily system. If medical science can remediate, alleviate or in any way counter that pathology and enable the system in question to function more in keeping with its intended purpose, that is in service to the teleology of the body and in harmony with natural law, and that would indeed be analogous to a licit therapeutic transplant (pace any Orthodox objections).

The stem-cell procedure you describe does not remediate or alleviate any pathology. Moreover, in separating the procreative function from the unitive, it violates the teleology of the conjugal act -- which, in Catholic moral thought, both in connection with the unitive and the procreative aspects, is fraught with enormous significance and sacredness.

With respect to the unitive, the conjugal act makes the couple one flesh, and is lawfully exercised only within the bonds of marriage. With respect to the procreative, it represents an act of potential cooperation with God in the creation of a new human soul.

John Paul II said, "Man must be the master -- not the product -- of his technology." Human life is sacred and in a special way a gift from God. Of course there is a sense in which every gift is from God, but life is more than other gifts; for the one who receives it, it is every gift there is, including the call to eternal life.

A child is neither a commodity nor an organ. No one has a right to be a parent, in a way that we have a right to health-promoting therapies. In a unique way that transcends other areas of life, there is in procreation a divine prerogative to be respected.

We may licitly seek to promote the natural and healthy functioning of the reproductive system, and cooperate with God in having recourse to conjugal union during the most potentially fertile times, etc., but in the end we must respect the limits of God's design for procreation. It is God's will that every child come into existence within the context of a concrete act of conjugal love between a father and a mother.

Besides which, in vitro fertilization invariably involves the creation of "extra" lives that are then frozen or flushed away, but that's another story.


I believe I understand at least part of your point here, about the distinction between healing the process and replacing the process. I am not quite sure I am solid on the importance of that distinction yet, but that may just be because I am up past my bedtime.

Thank you very much for the enlightening conversation, and God bless.

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