Saturday, June 28, 2008

A summary of the USCCB statement on embryonic stem cell research

A summary of the USCCB statement on embryonic stem cell research; These arguments are equally valid for abortion or euthanasia.

The Church teaches that direct attacks on human life are always wrong. The laws of our society are meant to protect human life. The aim of the medical sciences is to preserve and protect life.
However, some claim that in the case of research killing is acceptable [or they try to argue that it is not killing at all]. The Bishops respond to 3 justifications used to promote stem cell research:
The Marxist argument or the ends justify the means.
This is a false argument because evil never results in good only more evil.
“The same ethic that justifies taking some lives to help the patient with Parkinson’s disease today, can be used to sacrifice that very patient tomorrow.”
Recommended reading “1984”
The final solution argument or Ayn Rand would be proud.
This argument tries to sidestep the Marxist ethic by redefining human-ness based on power. It is not genetics that makes a person, rather it is power. Self determination and ability are what count. Where have all the post-modern social critics gone on this one?
“If fundamental rights such as the right to life are based on abilities or qualities that can appear or disappear, grow or diminish, and be greater or lesser in different human beings, then there are no inherent human rights, no true human equality, only privileges for the strong.”
Recommended reading “Atlas shrugged”
The take one for the team argument or don’t confuse me with the logic.
This argument is so absurd I can only conclude it was dreamed up by an east coast politician.
“Finally, some claim that scientists who kill embryos for their stem cells are not actually depriving anyone of life, because they are using “spare” or unwanted embryos who will die anyway. This argument is simply invalid. Ultimately each of us will die, but that gives no one a right to kill us.”
Recommended viewing “C-Span.”
The Bishops continue by observing that increased “need” for stem cells is leading to pressure to legitimize cloning. They then explain the Churches position that cloning is that is intrinsically evil;
1. Cloning is evil because it reduces human beings to commodities with market values.
2. The cloning process is a manufacturing process which shows disrespect for human life in the very act of generating it.
3. Cloned embryos are produced only to be destroyed
4. Congress has already prohibited fetus farming a process in which cloned embryos are placed in a woman’s womb for some weeks to harvest more useful tissues and organs.
Human beings are not tools for our progress to be used as long they benefit us then disposed of like a dead battery. That kind of thinking puts all of us at risk. The culture of death is hopelessly contradicted. In the case of stems cells and cloning they clamor for the right to artificially create life to destroy it. In the case of abortion they destroy life naturally created. In both cases the argument is that somehow by killing a baby this world will be a better place.


Joshua 24:15 said...

Another couple of reading recommendations that are related:
1. Brave New World (the famous novel by Aldous Huxley)
2. The House of the Scorpion-- a teen/young adult level novel about a boy who is a clone whose only purpose is to provide organs for a rich old drug lord, El Patron.

Both of these, as well as the books mentioned in Germanicus' post, are great works that stimulate thought and are still very relevant today.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Church would be better off meeting and debating in person its opposition rather than printing documents which are read by the people who already agree 100% with their view.
I think we have to grow past this document technique which seems infertile per se.
What if our Bishops or theologians sought meetings with the leaders of the opposition and debated these matters rather than accumulating a body of documents read mainly by Catholics who already agree.

Germanicus said...

I am not sure I follow you. Both are occurring. Inter-religious dialogue happens all the time. Last month I recall a meeting to discuss Christianity and Islam with representatives from both sides happily agreeing to many common social and ideological beliefs and just as happily agreeing that we view differently some very fundamental beliefs that can not be reconciled. As to the question of theologians and philosophers debating; it is not a matter of “if” but “how often”.
Bishops on the other hand may be less willing to enter into debate given the pastoral function of their role. Bishops are to look after the “flock”. That is their role. Sometimes that role involves defending the faith. But often a debate is not the best method to defend the faith. There is also the matter of separate spheres of influence especially in this country where often these debates are political or have political implications. That is not to say that a Bishop would not take a public stand on an issue, but they may avoid a public debate.

If I understand your question you wonder why write statements to instruct people who already believe. I can think of two reasons:
“We Catholics” do not all agree 100% with Church teaching. It may be because we don’t really understand it or it may be because we understand it all too well and understand the implications of that obedience. The Churches position of life as it relates to birth control of any kind is one of these issues. I know many Catholics who are zealously pro-life yet refuse to discontinue birth control. Formation is needed.

Which leads to the second reason; Many issues are not open for debate. The documents to which you refer are intended to reassure or correct the faithful. They are not written to convince atheists or Hindu’s or your good timing materialistic co-worker. They are written for the faithful as guideposts to help us navigate our way through life. Once again formation is needed.

You wonder if the “document method” is infertile. If that were the sole means of instruction I would agree but the idea is that you are also receiving the sacraments as often as possible.
Daily Mass is common for some but at least weekly as well as the sacrament of reconciliation. Prayer both in groups and individually as well as reading scripture and spiritual books, like the lives of saints and the gospels is necessary as well.
Finally, we also have an obligation to witness the truth. First, with our lives, living as blamelessly as possibly and always seeking forgiveness and reconciliation and then, if the opportunity presents itself, and we have prepared well, with our words.

Joshua 24:15 said...

Anonymous, I can't say I disagree with your premise as a logical argument. But I do think it's very beneficial to have a robust body of written work upon which to draw. After all, "the Church" is all of us, who should be seeking to debate these issues in the world everyday. These documents can help us understand the Church's position. I know that I personally do not spend enough time fighting the counterculture war.

Perhaps one way the Bishops can get things going, is to require Catholics themselves to understand and practice the faith when it comes to matters of life: birth control, stem cell, in vitro, etc. There is a lot of lukewarmness out there amongst the Body, even regarding something as basic as abortion...

Nevertheless, your idea about a more vocal Magisterium has merit, whether it's applied to Catholics or the secular/progressive world.