Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The 0.1% Solution

If the Reuters story is correct, British regulators are inching toward approval of the creation of hybrid human-animal embryos for medical purposes. According to the September 4th report, what is being proposed is the creation of a creature that would be 99.9% human and 0.1% cow. (I'm not making this up.)

It turns out that the British institution with the authority to determine this matter, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (I'm not making that up either), in its efforts to plumb the moral and cultural depths of the issue, conducted an opinion poll! (I'm not making this up.)

In the poll, 2000 people were asked whether they would approve of such human-animal hybrids for medical research. When the nature of the research was left unspecific, 35% of those polled indicated their approval of the procedure, but when it was specified that the research was for the purpose of seeking a cure for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, 61% approved.

In an article I wrote not long ago, I offered this:
Ameliorating the suffering of others is a inescapable Christian duty, but today great moral catastrophes are in the making for which the official justification is the alleviation of suffering. Not only is Christianity the world’s preeminent source of that philanthropic ethic, it is the only source of the theology of suffering, without which the ethic will be used to justify moral calamities.
When moral matters of this weight are being decided on the basis of opinion polls, you can be sure that we are teetering on the edge of a moral abyss.

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