STEM CELL RESEARCH
Science and its role are in the news yet again with the recent directives by President Obama on stem cell research. He spoke about the need for scientific research and science policy to be freed from “ideology”.
In announcing his policy on federal funding of stem cell research, President Obama inadvertently cast a bright light on a dangerous temptation in science policy that ought to give Americans pause.
What you think of his policy depends on what you think of the moral status of embryos. If (as modern biology informs us) conception initiates a human life, and if (as the Declaration of Independence asserts) every human life is equally deserving of some minimal protections, government support for the destruction of human embryos for research raises profound moral problems. But if you think an embryo is not quite a person, or that its immaturity or inability to suffer pain or its other qualities mean that destroying an embryo does not amount to taking a life, the promise of stem cell science might well outweigh any doubts. Read the rest........
NEIL POSTMAN AND "SCIENTISM".But the dream for a science free from ideology is an illusion—in fact, it is itself an ideology. As the late agnostic Neil Postman explains in his 1992 classic, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, such a dream is better called Scientism:
It is not merely the misapplication of techniques such as quantification to questions where numbers have nothing to say; not merely the confusion of the material and social realms of human experience; not merely the claim of social researchers to be applying the aims and procedures of natural science to the human world.
Scientism is all of these, but something profoundly more. It is the desperate hope, and wish, and ultimately the illusory belief that some standardized set of procedures called “science” can provide us with an unimpeachable source of moral authority, a suprahuman basis for answers to questions like “What is life, and when, and why?” “Why is death, and suffering?” “What is right and wrong to do?”