Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

03/09/2009 (7:41 pm)

Propagandist Obama to "Restore Science Integrity" (Updated)

In the “shameless projection” department, President Obama today reversed the Bush administration’s policy toward embryonic stem cell research, declaring through advisors that his administration intends to “use sound, scientific practice and evidence, instead of dogma” to guide federal policy.

The Bush administration policy on embryonic stem cells was guided by very real ethical concerns, applied conscientiously. The President believed that allowing research on human embryos would dehumanize man. Whether one agrees with this or not, one should at least acknowledge that medical ethics are a permissible basis for federal policy, and not viciously denigrate any ethical consideration as mere “political ideology.”

Simply ignoring ethical concerns is not “scientific” in any sense. Quite the contrary: people genuinely engaged in the use of science to acquire facts will be the first to acknowledge that there are limits to what science can discover, and that ethics exist outside those limits. The claim that there are no ethics that govern the quest for knowledge is, itself, an ideological point of view that cannot be established by research.

The assertion that imposing that point of view constitutes “a return to science” indicates either that the President does not understand what science is, or that he intends to use rhetoric to win ideological battles using “science” as a pawn. Either way, what we’re seeing is not a return to science, but rather the subjugation of science to ideology. As is invariably the case with the judgmental, President Obama is committing the very sin he claims he’s correcting. God has designed the universe with a sense of irony.

Even worse, Obama’s claim leads to troubling conclusions. Reversing the policy because a different ethical decision has been made would be one thing; dismissing ethical considerations altogether as though they represent “mere ideology” is another thing altogether. The ideological point of view that posits that no ethics govern the quest for knowledge is, at least arguably, responsible for the experiments of the likes of Josef Mengele. The President’s position may do less to “restore integrity” than it does to dismantle medical ethics as a discipline. Let us pray that researchers proceed cautiously despite the President’s dangerous obfuscation.

UPDATE, 3/10/09: It turns out that in addition to issuing a new Executive Order funding embryonic stem cell research, President Obama also rescinded Executive Order 13435, an order funding research into alternative methods for producing embryonic stem cells without destroying human life.

According to Life News,

President Bush put that order in place in June 2007 when he vetoed a Congressional measure that would have required embryonic stem cell research funding.

Instead of signing the bill, President Bush issued an executive order to press for more research into ways of obtaining embryonic stem cells without harming human life. The order was intended to ultimately fund research into alternatives” to destructive embryonic stem cell research such as altered nuclear transfer (ANT), “regression” (reverting differentiated cells into stem cells), and other methods.

Bush could be said to have been ahead of his time since regression, also known as direct reprogramming, has taken off and the new induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are the talk of the scientific world.

The fact that Obama specifically rescinded this EO puts the lie to his claim of “science over ideology.” Given the core assumption of federal funding for research, and given the implication that all federal spending provides stimulus, there’s no good reason for the federal government to stop funding research into ANT and regression — unless the President’s goal is actually the destruction of human life. This comports well with his record of aggressive abortion advocacy but contradicts his rhetoric, a duality with which we’ve become all too familiar since Obama rose to national prominence.

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