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Biotech Science

Pope Denounces Some Biotech as Affront to 'Human Dignity' 1158

eldavojohn writes "Today in a speech the pope denounced human cloning, embryonic stem cell research and artificial insemination, citing them as a violation of 'human dignity.' That said, the pope did 'appreciate and encourage' research on stem cells from non-embryonic cells in the human body. The pope encouraged the Vatican to be a leading voice in the philosophy and discussion of bioethics. 'Church teaching certainly cannot and must not weigh in on every novelty of science, but it has the task to reiterate the great values which are on the line and to propose to faithful and all men of good will ethical-moral principles and direction for new, important questions,' Benedict said."
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Pope Denounces Some Biotech as Affront to 'Human Dignity'

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  • As a pope myself (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:46PM (#22250720) Homepage Journal
    I hereby excommunicate this very silly pope.

    PS: Every man, woman, and child is a pope. Non serviam.
  • by krog ( 25663 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:53PM (#22250844) Homepage
    In his defense, basically everyone was in Hitler Youth. It was the Boy Scouts for Good Germans. Most children didn't have a whole lot of choice regarding their participation.
  • by Lady Jazzica ( 689768 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:57PM (#22250934)
    No, that's not the problem. Cloned people have souls - look at twins, for instance.
  • by krog ( 25663 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:10PM (#22251188) Homepage
    Direct hit.
  • Re:Secular Humanism (Score:4, Informative)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:21PM (#22251390) Journal
    That's a lovely sentiment, but the idea of human dignity that most people find familiar does not have its origins in the Church, but rather in the Enlightenment, which was populated by more than a few great thinkers who did not find very much attractive in the Church's history, monolithic structure or its behavior.

    There were enough Popes directly or indirectly ordering the imprisonment and burning of heretics and other non-conformists that it's pretty clear that this modern post-Vatican II church is attempting to rewrite its own history to make itself into the champion of human dignity, when its real history shows it to have been a powerful political force quite willing to trample any notions of human dignity in the pursuit and maintenance of power and influence.
  • by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <<spydermann.slashdot> <at> <>> on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:27PM (#22251556) Homepage Journal
    I don't recall any other popes calling it an affront to human dignity.

    Perhaps not a pope, but the Congregation of the Doctrine of the faith did. Donum Vitae, Feb 22, 1987.

    Are test tube babies not allowed to be baptized because fertilization occurred outside the body?
    It's not the babies that are wrong, it's how they were conceived.
  • by Luke Dawson ( 956412 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:45PM (#22251914)
    Technically, you can prove something doesn't exist by proving that it is logically impossible for it to exist (and this is possible with the Judeo-Christian God - e.g. Theodicy Paradox). The point the GP was making was that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. That said, it doesn't really say anything of substance - the same argument can be made either way, ad infinitum. So the GP could have said just as much by saying nothing at all.
  • by PakProtector ( 115173 ) <> on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:49PM (#22252008) Journal

    The Church did not have a problem with Galileo's Heliocentric beliefs. They had a problem with him telling people how to interperet the bible, which was their monopoly.

    Please, don't just regurgitate what you've been force-fed.

  • by ( 1108067 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:52PM (#22252084) Homepage Journal

    " it's man interfering with the God-given natural order of conception."

    So we shouldn't interfere with nature .... right ...

    So cesarean sections are evil too ... tet the mother and child die instead ...

    And forget medicine - pray instead. After all, why should people interfere with "god-given natural order"?

    Natural order my arse! The bible is fairy tales and hate literature. Stoned any gays or lesbians lately?

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <> on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:54PM (#22252122) Homepage Journal
    John Paul II might have considered it, but Benedict is extremely conservative and is living up to the 'placeholder' assessment that most people had of him at the time of his election.

    JPII was a very conservative pope. He was just conservative with a smile. Honestly, I'd actually appreciate conservatism in religion as something to live up to. We should feel squeemish on some level about creating living things willy nilly, simply so that we can experiment with them. It doesn't even really matter if a human fetus is human or not. It is a life, and we are taking it, and not only for the most noble of reasons.

    Ultimately, the Pope is on the right side of this issue. A few generations down the road, we will look back on what we have done with animal testing and embryonic testing, and realize that we are in fact barbaric.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:56PM (#22252164) Journal
    Oh come on. The widespread sex scandal involving the Church and a good many high-ranking clerics, and Rome was somehow ignorant of it all? For shit's sake, in Ireland alone, it paid out something like a hundred million pounds.

    The Pope has no problem lecturing people on biotech, capital punishment, abortion, but where is the meaningful punishment of these priests? It spent decades moving them around and hiding them. It was an institutional approach, and now to defend as "just a few bishops" is not bourne out by the facts.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:01PM (#22252256) Journal
    Check here: []

    It seems your good Pope was active in covering up Italian sexual abuses by priests.

    What a disgusting, repugnant hypocrite. Let him openly reveal the identity of every abusing priest in Italy, and reveal the compensation given to the victims, and then he can lecture us all on the finer points of morality.

    I can't imagine how you're not ashamed to be a member of such a church.
  • by Confessed Geek ( 514779 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:12PM (#22252454)
    I'm no fan of any of these monotheisms but one correction regarding Women's Rights issues in Islam - They had them LONG before Christians did.

    AT THE TIME when Islam started its teachings were the most progressive towards women of any of the monotheistic religions. Women were considered people, could own land and property _as_individuals_ , could not be forced to marry, were guaranteed support by their husbands, were guaranteed the equivalent or alimony if divorced, were allowed to work and own their own business, were allowed to decide if they wanted children, were guaranteed support for their children by the child's father even after divorce, and could divorce her husband if he did not sexually satisfy her. (I'm not making any of this up.)

    Now mind you her testimony in "court" carried only the fraction of the weight of a man's and there are a whole bunch of other chauvinistic rubbish as well, but up until the 18th Century in western Civil Law an Islamic women had more rights than most women in the western world (in Theory).

    Now in practice a lot of these rights were voided and ignored by those who called themselves Muslim but still practiced their own tribal cultures, but according to the Koran and the teachings of Mohammed she had them. MOST of the practices we find so abhorrent and attribute to "Islam" are also considered abhorrent by the actual teachings of the religion and condemned. They are cultural artifacts, not religious ones. Sadly, like the teachings of Christ, mean spirited, bigoted, hate mongering, power grabbing, control freaks have thouroughly confused most people about what those teachings are and twisted them into an evil that would horrify the original prophet/divinity.

    The ridiculous Scenario you described is more shaming for you than the religion you are so ignorantly trying to insult. The actions you described would have _by_religious_law_ sentenced the Man to death.

    SO now... Who looks like a fool?

    I would never raise a daughter in Islam but I at least did the study to find out before making a jackass out of myself by spraying my bigotry around.

    Is Christian Faith dangerous too? Hell yeah, and more so because while going to a fundamentalist Madrassa is considered a bad thing, going to a fundamentalist homeschool/bibleschool is a plus when running for US government office.

    Many of the teachings are identical. Many of the ideas are equally terrifying for the future of humanity. Its like looking in a mirror. If your not looking its because your afraid of what you will see.

  • by emilper ( 826945 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:33PM (#22252848)
    Galileo picked on the Bible. Not only he said that the Earth is moving, but he wrote a pamphlet where three characters debated the issues and the one defending the point of the view was presented as being kind of ridiculous. Galileo did not resume himself to Astronomy, he ventured to Theology and drew theological conclusions from his work.
  • Giordano Bruno (Score:5, Informative)

    by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:36PM (#22252894)

    That may be the "official" reason, but the real reason is that he found an error in the Flawless Undisputed Work of God.

    A quote: []

    In 1614 a Dominican priest filed charges at the Office of the Inquisition. Galileo was to respond by writing extraordinarily long letters which were circulated and became subject of debate. The most influential churchman of his age, Cardinal Bellamarine was to say of Galileo's theories: "a very dangerous thing, likely not only to irritate all scholastic philosophers and theologians, but also likely to harm the Holy Faith by rendering Holy Scripture false".

    His actual crime was noticing that The Book has A Problem.

    If you'd like to see an even better example of this, check out Giordano Bruno. His crimes were:

    • Holding opinions contrary to the Catholic Faith and speaking against it and its ministers.
    • Holding erroneous opinions about the Trinity, about Christ's divinity and Incarnation.
    • Holding erroneous opinions about Christ.
    • Holding erroneous opinions about Transubstantiation and Mass.
    • Claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity.
    • Believing in metempsychosis and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes.
    • Dealing in magics and divination.
    • Denying the Virginity of Mary.

    What did he say? Basically the same thing as Galileo - that the "heavens" are simply other stars like our sun, the comets weren't messengers from God, etc. Read it here. []

    Oh yeah, they burned his ass at the stake for that.

  • by n-baxley ( 103975 ) <nate@baxleys. o r g> on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:40PM (#22252976) Homepage Journal
    The babies that are born through artificial insemination are great. The problem with it lies in all of the fertilized eggs that are discarded once a pregnancy occurs or that are lost during "handling". Catholics, myself included, believe that life begins at conception and so when you get rid of an embryo, anytime after fertilization, you are destroying a life.
  • by CheekyBastard ( 1142171 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:55PM (#22253354)
    b) ...If you disagree, I challenge you to mention anything evil John Paul II has done, because he lectured A LOT about human dignity.

    Fair enough, how about the needless condemnation of any type of birth control (namely condoms) that serves to prevent contracting AIDS. Countless people, notably in Africa, have suffered and died on account of his convictions. The reason? They were naive to believe the poppycock he & his ilk propagated. That's one example, I'll leave it open for others to add to the list of your hero's actions which I DO consider evil. Human dignity, indeed.
  • by MenTaLguY ( 5483 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:56PM (#22253398) Homepage
    The Catholic position is that human dignity and the value of human life are unconditional. Even if someone was conceived "wrongly", that still doesn't change. That's what unconditional means. This is the reason that the Church objects to the destruction of "surplus" IVF embryos, even while she opposes IVF.
  • by ( 1108067 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @06:37PM (#22254104) Homepage Journal

    > > "The Catholic position is that human dignity and the value of human life are unconditional."

    Here, let me fix that for you " human dignity is unconditional - unless you're a heretic" - that really explains the Inquisition.

    Also, seems to me that the Catholic position is in direct contradiction to the bible - the flood, the 7 plagues, genocide, slavery - hey, tell us how being a slave, or even owning slaves, is congruent with human dignity. And how torture is okay for the church. And how its all right for god to condemn people to starvation, disease, hell, etc because he refuses to lift a finger.

  • by iamlucky13 ( 795185 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @06:55PM (#22254450)
    The issue wasn't just "some book" that said the earth was the center of the universe. Almost everybody was convinced that's what they were seeing when they looked up in the sky. It's pretty darn hard to take a glance and figure all that out for yourself. There's a reason it took all of humanity several thousand years to establish that fact. We're talking generations of really hardcore science nerds like Aristotle, Archymedes, and Da Vinci. Almost no one besides Galileo had seen what he had, and few even had the capacity to interpret that as a heliocentric system on their own, even if they did see it. It may seem simple to you or me, who have been taught it in increasingly thorough steps as long as we can remember, but you do disservice to their intellects by neglecting that point.

    Galileo (who wasn't the first to suggest or even provide evidence of heliocentrism), happened to be the stubborn fool who got caught in the crosshairs of the debate over a dramatically shifting worldview. If you thought the bickering about whether Pluto is a planet was tiresome, just imagine trying to redefine the entire universe to a largely uneducated world. Heck, plenty of people were still claiming "turtles all the way down" into the 19th or 20th century.

    The Church ended up involved largely as a matter of politics, which the Church was unfortunately overly involved in at the time. Galileo actually had a lot of support from the pope at the time until he (apparently accidentally) insulted Pope Urban in his book on the topic. At that point, their friendship ended and the vehemently geocentric half of society was able to sway the board of inquisitors in their favor. Over time the fallacy of geocentrism became increasingly obvious and quietly went away, although the protestants never tired of pointing out the Church's misstep. It only took 359 years for the apology to come out because most people simply saw it as a non-issue that scientific evidence had dealt with. John Paul II, however, wanted to address the lingering resentment. I might also mention that I just happened to read in the paper today that Australia's PM is issuing a formal apology for Australia's mistreatment of Aboriginees. In same tone as yours, do we really want this racist beauracracy clogging down the politics in Australia?

    The Catholic Church's teaching on topics like artificial insemmination isn't some arbitrary whim. It's based on a very deeply founded theology of the creation and nature of human beings, and it's one that does not minimize the value of those who are sterile, for example. Obviously few non-Catholics genuinely understand the main points of the theology, but that does not change the reasoning behind it.

    I am hardly able to see the Church as a solely medieval institution, as you put it, when it is in fact composed of hundreds of millions of modern day people, most of whom are quite capable of integrating history and the modern world in their lives. While we're at it, humanity is a pre-medieval institution. Where does that leave us?
  • by bigtangringo ( 800328 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @08:45PM (#22255900) Homepage
    The greatest [] evidence [] that the God of Abraham doesn't exist, is from the very book[s] that proclaims he does. Then there's the whole mess about it being a ripoff of Egyptian mythology, with a healthy dose of Greek and Pagan mythology thrown in for fun.
  • by Herby Sagues ( 925683 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @08:47PM (#22255928)
    This pope is a pussy. Until he reinstates wife beating, Sunday worker stoning and human sacrifices (all of them promoted by the bible), I'm not going back to church. This pope does not respect the Holy Scriptures. At least they are reinstating pedophilia.
  • Re:Giordano Bruno (Score:2, Informative)

    by jy8608 ( 1221698 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @10:45PM (#22257032)
    FYI Giordano Bruno was not burned for his scientific views:

    From []

    Bruno's crimes were more profound than teaching an alternative cosmology. He taught a humanist, materialistic pantheism, which was rather incoherent. He was a defiant critic of many ecclesiastical doctrines. After rejecting Catholicism, he joined Calvinism, but was excommunicated by them and ejected from Geneva, appearantly because of his outspoken defiance of Church authority in Geneva too.

    He was a humanist who published what he considered humorous works but others found them to be obscene. In 1584 he published "The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast", which was not about cosmology, but an attack on the Catholic Church.

    In 1587, he was excommunicated by the Lutherans in Germany. Seems this guy couldn't get along with anybody.

    In 1591, he went to Venice (not too bright, either), and was tried before the Inquisition (not for his Copernican views, however). He was inprisoned for 6 years. After haven been given several terms in which to retract his heretical teachings, he was handed over to the secular authorities. They executed him.
  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) * on Thursday January 31, 2008 @11:36PM (#22257354)
    The zygote divides because God injected a second soul.

  • by OSXCPA ( 805476 ) on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:36AM (#22260026) Journal
    One interesting bit the Church is all about, and another poster alluded to it, is 'natural law'. The church has spent literally centuries documenting elaborate rationales for their beliefs. The Pope doesn't just bark out something that sounds good to him - he has a team of researchers and theologians write thse HUGE papers on it. The current Pope was, as I understand it, quite the prolific author of these when he was the chief guardian of the faith prior to being Pope (this is the modern equivalent of the Grand Inquisitor, but without the hot pokers and spikes).

    My point - there is a convoluted 'logic' to their reasoning, which you can read for yourself, but having read through the relevant sections for this thread, I found them positively Escherian in their convoluted self-referentialality (is that a real word? You get the idea...) and all lead back to 'because we said so', which is the cornerstone of the Catholic churches' authority. They don't worry about their shrinking domain from an ideological standpoint, as you suggest - they have literally an entire theory of 'law' that says they don't have to worry. The pronouncements they put out are for the faithful - normal, rational people won't understand them because they are written in circular logic tarted up in faux-academic jargon - i.e., nonsense.

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!