Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How Many Died from Religion's Opposition to Stem Cell Research?

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.


  1. I think you will find that there are few or no religious views that are opposed to the use of adult stem cells as was used in this case. The controversy is with the use of embryonal stem cells.

    I notice from the topics on your blog that you have an issue with religion. As much as you are entitled to your opinion, you may find it a useful exercise to make the minor distinction between what is true religion and what is false religion. Your wholesale disregard for religion makes you no different from religious fanatics or racists in whose eyes people of a certain colour appear the same.

    1. Wholesale disregard of religion is just as valid as disregard and rejection of the idea the world is flat. Science is not fanatic it is brutal sometimes to the egos of some people whose theories are blown outta the water but a truly virtuous scientist will applaud someone advancing science. Question: would you rather fanatical prayer if goodness forbid you got cancer or aggressive treatment from one the most educated and gifted oncologist for a radius of a 1000 kilometres?

  2. Its going to be OK.

    The UK is a world leader in stem cell and embryonic research. The dumb George listened to the bible bashers and banned stem cell research. He's gone now, Obama has pledged to pursue this vital cause.

    The religious right are in decline..

  3. "you may find it a useful exercise to make the minor distinction between what is true religion and what is false religion"

    wtf? trued religion vs. false religion. wow...

  4. But the fact of the matter is, How can there be any controversy over using embryonic stem cells when the embryos themselves are set to be destroyed anyways? Why let this valuable resource go to waste when it could be saving lives. Religion kept us in the dark ages for much longer than we should have been in the dark ages. The Bible implies that the Sun revolves around the earth. How can a book that doesn't even have real facts in it determine what we can and can't do? What authority does some book have over the free will of people? If they don't want to use stem cells, then they don't have to! Let those of us who can actually see the truth in science and logic advance in this technology while you devout religious members die off from diseases that your "god" says you cannot get cured because of an "Ethical" issue.


Dear readers -- I am no longer blogging and after leaving these blogs open for two years have finally stopped accepting comments due to spammers. Thanks for your interest. If you'd like to write to me, click on the "Contact" link at the top. Thanks! -- CJ.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.