Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Divine Embryos

President Bush recently threatened to use his veto power to stop a stem-cell research bill passed by the senate. If Bush does indeed veto the bill, it would be the first time that he has ever used this power. How appropriate that the most religious president in recent memory might go down in history as vetoing only one bill, and having it be a pro-science bill.

Bush said "I made very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life -- I'm against that."

Now we come to the point of this blog entry: Will Bush's veto of this bill "save" human lives (in the form of embryos)? I believe the answer to this question is artistically provided in this cartoon by Ruben Bolling: President Bush’s Photo-op at a Fertility Clinic. It is hosted by pharyngula.com. I didn’t want to post the image directly on my blog due to copyright concerns. So please take a moment to view this link.

Bush is obviously coming from the position that all these embryos have human souls or spirits, and therefore should not be "destroyed" in order to "save" the lives of other humans. For the sake of argument, let's entertain this position of Bush's. Let's imagine that these unborn embryos have human spirits, and that they deserve all the same protections and rights granted to the already-born variety of humans.

So will the defeat of this bill by Bush's veto save any of these embryo-lives? According to the bills supporters, the embryos in question are unused leftovers from fertility clinics that were destined to be destroyed anyway. So these embryos have two possible paths, depending on whether this bill gets vetoed or not:

1. The bill passes, and the unused embryos are "destroyed" in order to "save" lives through research.
2. The bill is killed by Bush, and the unused embryos are "destroyed" without any life-saving research performed.

The most important part to note here is that, if Bush vetoes the bill, these embryos will still be destroyed. The "destroy" factor in this situation never comes into question. The only thing that comes into question is whether or not these destined-for-destruction embryos will be used to save other people's lives or not.

Bush either does not understand the factors involved in this bill, or he is deliberately making false statements about the bill to serve his religious and/or emotional convictions. Personally, I can't figure out which is scarier: ignorance or willful fraud.

Now let's think for a minute about the spirit/afterlife factor involved here. Bush, being a Christian, believes that the spirits of these embryos are destined for heaven. Does Bush think that the spirits of these embryos still exist here, on Earth, inside the embryos themselves? Or does Bush think that the spirits of these embryos already made passage to God's kingdom? If the spirits are still inside the embryos, then destroying them will, in his mind, send the spirits into heaven and amount to "killing" them. But what I don't understand, is why Bush thinks that the embryos will somehow escape destruction if the researchers don't get their hands on them. Is the destruction of excess, unused embryos somehow more humane when they are not allowed to be used for research, but instead disposed of in a biological waste container?

And another factor comes into mind here: the legal factor. If these embryos are to be considered full human citizens with all the rights afforded to other American citizens (as Bush's worldview implies), then these embryos are obviously minors and their parents have full legal custody of them. And if a minor dies or is destined to die, born or unborn, the parents are the ones who are allowed to make the decisions in the minor's life/death journey.

If an already-born child is mortally wounded in a car accident and destined to die, the parents can choose to donate the child's organs to research. So if there are excess unused embryos from a fertility treatment, and they are destined to be destroyed, then the parents of these embryos should be allowed to donate them to research if they so choose. Consider it the ultimate organ donation. If it's noble for a parent to donate the heart or liver of a doomed child, then isn't it even nobler for a parent to donate a doomed embryo in it's entirety?

Clearly, Bush's Christian beliefs are muddling up his "compassionate conservative" side. I am betting that he simply doesn't understand the specifics involved in this situation, and that is why his argument is so obviously flawed. I am betting that he doesn't even realize that these embryos are doomed to destruction regardless of the passage of this bill. I am betting that he doesn't understand that if we are to treat these embryos as full humans and citizens, as he implies we should, then the matter of donating these excess embryos to research should be left up to the parents or legal guardians of said embryos.

Bush wants to save these embryos from destruction, but clearly, his veto wouldn't save them from a Goddamn thing.

Why Bush would want to keep these embryo-citizens from entering a blissful eternal afterlife in heaven is beyond me, but one thing is clear: the only thing his veto would "save" these embryos from, is helping their fellow man learn to survive longer in this life. I find it rather ironic, considering that keeping humans in this existence is exactly what Bush claims to be trying to do.

10 comments:

GeneralZod said...

I wish Bush and the rest of the GOP would be a little more honest when they speak of their "culture of life."

Somehting like this:

Bush: "We are a culture of life...starting...NOW! (Please disregard the record number of executions I administered as governor of Texas, and please disregard the Irag War...er I mean Freedom War I. Also, torture does not kill, so it is compatible with a culture of life.)"

Me, Uncensored said...

The quote below your blog's title is interesting yet I have a different viewpoint.

As shitty as this life is, there had BETTER be an afterlife! What kind of loving God would make *this* as good as it gets? I mean "this life" in general, not my own personal life.

We live in a dangerous world and as humans we do horrible things to each other. About 3/4 of the people who live here go to bed hungry and live in crushing poverty. We don't need to live our lives with our heads in the clouds, ignoring what needs to be done in here while we wait for the afterlife, but the concept of there being no afterlife is probably pretty damn inhumane to someone living in some 3rd world country. I would hope, for their sake anyway, that they'd see a better situation in eternity.

At any rate, I can't prove an afterlife exists, nor can you prove it doesn't. If I'm wrong, I've lost nothing. If you're wrong, you may be screwed, depending.

My take, anyway.

Openly68Atheist said...

Hey openly Atheist here, your anti-after life blog and my blog which supports finding immortality right here right now share the smae ideas. Very cool blog! I will link to your blog from my blog.
http://openly68atheist.blogspot.com/

Aaron Kinney said...

I can understand your frustration me uncensored.

However, I dont think that wishing for an afterlife or hoping for one will make it any more likely.

In addition, I think that having hope for an afterlife while discarding hope for this life is a very big mistake. That kind of attitude will only increase your (I saw "your" in the infinitive sense, applicable to any human on Earth) misery in this existence, for you will not be as motivated to work towards making this life a good one if you think a better life will come along. You will look towards another existence besides this one, and your actions taken in this life will be directed towards making yourself happy in an afterlife, rather than this life. This will only increase your misery for yourself and your community in this existence. And we dont want that do we?

The key here I think, is to recognize the problems that exist in this reality, and work to fix them. Realizing that this life is the only one we have will increase our motivation to make it count. Sure, this life is all messed up! Sure there are lots of problems! But believing in an afterlife will make this life worse, while believing in only this life will help make this life better.

Me uncensored, I contend that aferlife belief and religion are the very big reasons WHY those living in third world countries are so unhappy. They spend all their time trying to make their afterlife a happy one via religious practices, rather than make this this life a happy one via work and self-determination.

Enlightenment said...

I'm going through chemo therapy now, following the discovery of a melanoma and lymphatic cancer--the latter part of which I kept from my friends and loved ones until I knew what my chances of survival were. As it turns out I actually have a very good prognosis. The treatments have worked very well, although I didn't feel like I had cancer until they began to drip this liquid fire into my veins. Through it all my neighbors--who know that I am an atheiast as a vegin have been sending me casseroles and Biblical get well cards. After awhile it got so bad that I had my wife and son draw up a standardized letter in which I asked them to keep their prayers to themselves. I am not frightened by the idea of death and no after life. I like sleeping and that's all death is --a final, dreamless sleep. A lot better than going to Heaven and kising the All Mighty's ass for an eternity. How typical of the religionists to make Heaven eterenal servitude.

Also, my son and I have this theory about religious conservatives. For years these people have been telling us how much they love Jesus and are looking forward to being with him. For years they have been telling us how much they hate the dreaded federal government because it's taking away their civil liberties. But on 911 who were the first people to run to the dreaded federal government? Who were the first people who tried to worm their way out of seeing Jesus? Who were the first people to ask the federal government to use its power to restrict their and our civil liberties? You guessed it--the bloody, stupid
hypocritical, irritiating, superstitious "Christian" right.

Enlightenment said...

Belief in a nonexistant afterlife is a lazy way of looking at life. With God and an afterlife we really don't have to work hard to find a meaning in our life--it's all set out for us in some superstition ridden text. Atheism requires that we create our own meaning for life, and that's a lot harder, although a lot more meaningful and more npersonal than some preconceived pile of crap based on ancient, mideastern mythology.

Enlightenment said...

We see the Bush culture of life in Iraq. Now that Iraq has claimed that 12,000 people have been killed by the insurgency, the Iraqi Ministry of Health has said that American bombing and military action has killed twice as many as the insurgency, which would be approximately 24,000. Let's see now. 12,000 + 24,000 + 1800 = 37,800. I'd hate to see how bad this crowd would be if it were a culture of death.

Aaron Kinney said...

Thank you for your enlightening comments, enlightenment. Im glad to hear that you are recovering! It is a miracle in itself that a non-Christian is recovering from cancer, no? ;-) God must like you. How blasphemous!

Seriously though, you touched on something I think is important. The Christian right is in power, and they paint themselves as having a pro-life stance, a culture of life stance, etc...

But do they REALLY have a pro-life stance? Two blog entries of mine deal with the relevant topics: immortality via technology, and stem cell research. Bush thinks that destroying an embryo (that was gonna be destroyed anyway) for use in medical research (which could save thousands or millions of lives) is wrong. Bush is basically preventing us from discovering cures to things like cancer because of his supposed pro-life stance.

The Christian right gets in the way of technological immortality because of their religious convictions. Therefore, they support a culture of DEATH, not life. These embryos are destined for destruction regardless of whether or not they are used in research. And even if we do sacrifice some embryonic lives, we would save thousands more.

So much for the Christian culture of life.

breakerslion said...

The Christians have a bullshit answer for everything. They would probably say that Enlightenment's return to health just went to show that SuperDadda, being all-knowing or something, a. was giving Enlightenment every chance to redeem him/her self before the bitter end, or b. (my favorite stock answer) still had a purpose for Enlightenments life. Excuse me a sec. while I wash my own mouth with soap.

I think we need to develop a bullshit gene too. Why don't we suggest that someone put those embryos in a tea ball and baptize them! Then they'd be fair game for blowing up, just like the teenagers in Iraq! Hey, they just bought a short cut to eternal bliss! That's the "life" these guys must be talking about in their "Right to life" stance. Otherwise, how do they explain the crocodile tears when the body bags come home and they honor soldiers for their sacrifice?

Aaron Kinney said...

Good one beakerslion.

And why does Bush protect a handful of unborn ebryos at the expense of hundreds of thousands of taxpaying voters?

Things that make you go "hmmm..."