European news is carrying a wonderful story about the first woman to receive a new organ made from her own stem cells. The woman's bronchus (part of her windpipe/trachea) was destroyed by tuberculosis, and without the transplant, doctors would have had to remove her lung entirely.
Our scientist colleagues in the UK deserve our congratulations for this wonderful achievement &ndash Well done! – but it also reminds us Americans of yet another sad example of religion impeding scientific progress.
Anti-abortionists brought stem-cell research in the United States to a virtual halt. Who knows what lifesaving discoveries might have been made in the last decade? Who knows what crippling diseases, painful disabilities, disfiguring conditions, and dementia that robs us of our loved ones, might have been cured?
Religion has, once again, shown that it is the enemy of science, knowledge, and progress. The religious zealots (a minority, by the way) whose disproportionate political power forced this policy on America, directly caused thousands of deaths, and many times that many people to live in misery, of people who might have been cured, if stem-cell research hadn't been stopped.
Why does it have to be this way? Why is religion so consistently the enemy of knowledge and progress?
The answer is plain when you view religion from an evolutionary, memetic viewpoint. Education and science are not the friends of religion, especially dogmatic religions that cling to ancient ideas. Science has a way of undermining religious scriptures, of proving that biblical "facts" are in fact wrong.
Religion memeplexes always evolve toward survivors, the "fittest" ideas, and the memes that encapsulate anti-science and anti-rationalism ideas are very beneficial to the religious memeplexes. They keep believers from learning the facts and logic that would undermine the foundations of these dogmatic religions.
So, while we can lament the unconscionable setbacks that religion has caused, in this case by delaying medical progress, we shouldn't be surprised. A memetic point of view actually predicts that this will always be the way religious memeplexes – and the people who believe them – will respond to science and rational thought.