June 18th, 2009


Bio-ethics and Scienitific Illiteracy

I was at a science fiction convention not long ago, talking on a panel whose topic was "bio-ethics". The phrase "bio-ethics" as far as I can tell, means the study of how not to apply normal ethical norms to novel medical and biotechnological techniques.

As inevitably happens, some yammerhead began denouncing the religious obscurantism for being "against science" -- apparently on the grounds that abortion is scientific, whereas a descent respect for human life in the womb is unscientific, mere sentiment.

(An earlier generation of yammerheads, following in the footsteps of Wells, for example, would have (and did) likewise argue that contraception and infanticide and euthanasia and eugenics and socialist totalitarianism and wiping out lesser races were scientific, and a descent respect for the sacrament of marriage, the integrity of the human person, and the right to life of other races, the sick, the old, the weak, and the unproductive was mere sentiment. This parallel escapes no one. )

I asked this paragon of unsentimental science whether an undeveloped organism in the womb or in the egg is a member of the same species as its parent organisms?

His answer was no.

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