Sacrilege and Medical Science

Fabian of Report from Greater Tokyo has responded to Jerry's stem cell primer.

"On the medical science issue, once upon a time, it was considered sacriligious to cut open a human corpse. Early doctors' methods were notoriously unreliable, and early post-mortems were unlikely to either find the exact cause of death or provide immediately useful data for medical research.

However, although no one knew exactly how that research might be beneficial in the future, we know now that it was invaluable to almost every modern surgical technique.

Similarly, although we don't yet know which way stem cell research may take medical science, and we don't even know of any specific benefits, but it seems reasonable to believe that there will be some tangible medical benefit in the future. If the anti-stem cell research people had won back then, modern medical surgery would still be at the amputate and cauterize stage. Stuff as basic as resetting a broken bone would be life-threatening, and almost certainly result in long term problems.

Comments? Criticisms? My gut reaction is to say that cutting open a corpse is not the same as destroying a living creature. Whether killing that creature is killing a person or not is a matter for debate, but that a living thing is killed is not."

Thoughts? 

Comments 2

  1. h2 wrote:

    I was confused by ta’Lajzar’s post, mostly because I didn’t notice any differentiation between the different types of stem cells. I’d agree with the idea that we don’t know all the effects that stem cell research might eventually have, but that doesn’t excuse the moral breach involved in harvesting embryonic stem cells. Perhaps, if I misunderstood the post, and the writer is actually referring to adult stem cells, well, then I agree even more; but I sense that wasn’t the intent of the post.

    Posted 07 Sep 2004 at 10:49 am
  2. Jerry wrote:

    The blog also fails to differentiate between the very solid and consistent apostolic teaching against abortion in the Christian tradition, where no such thing exists on dissection. Heck, pagans had similar hangups about human dissections. The great Roman physician Galen learned his human anatomy from treating wounded gladiators.

    Also, religion aside, there is an unacknowledged (by ta’Lajzar) huge disanalogy between these cases, as pointed out by Funkydung: cadavers are DEAD whereas embryos are alive. Personhood aside, pick up a bio textbook and you’ll see that life is defined as being cellular. Embryos are made of cells. Embryos are alive. QED.

    I’m glad that my post garnered some attention from the opposition, I just wish that the blogger had based his criticism on a sounder basis so we could have a more productive chat.

    Posted 07 Sep 2004 at 3:47 pm

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