Religion and Science… Part 2

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Ok, seems Cardinal George Pell has come out condemning the idea of therapeutical cloning and stem cell research, calling all Catholics to do the same.

One of the best things to have happened over the course of human history was the separation of state and church. Honestly, if this is the kind of thing we’re going to have crop up anytime there is a push for medical or scientific advancement, then I swear, the first lot of aliens that arrive, I’m hitching a lift off planet.

Seriously, what is this guy thinking? IS he thinking, or is this just a knee-jerk reaction?

The idea of therapeutic cloning is pretty straightforward. Take some cells, strip out the nucleus, take an ovum, replace it’s nucleus with that of the cell you just used, and boom… bake for a while, take out of the oven and there’s a collection of undifferentiated stem cells ripe for transplant. No risk of tissue rejection, no messy immunosuppresants and one less person that has to die for someone in need of a donor organ.

I just don’t get why these people won’t get behind something that could ease the suffering of so many people. Are they that twisted that they want to see the world suffering with debilitating diseases? No doubt for some, it serves their moralistic high ground mentalities to stand back, healthy and disease free, and watch those in suffering, ‘ministering’ to them. Please!!! I’ve been at the bedside of someone dying from cancer, aggressively consuming them faster than a Australias Biggest Loser devouring an apple pie off camera… and all the time their priest offering little more than hollow words. And that’s just a garden variety Protestant…to say nothing of the fundamentalists that refuse medical treatment in some twisted Darwinian situation.

Hey, if you like survival of the fittest, let’s take away all your mod cons and put you in the middle of nowhere with nothing at all and see if God helps you out then, eh?

I’d love to see one of these sanctimonious hypocrites in a situation where they find out that they’re kidneys or liver or lungs or nervous system is failing… to realise then that they could have been treated had they opened up their minds and realised the benefits of this research. Imagine the kind of pain someone with a degenerative neural condition would be in. All you can do is dull the pain… it never abates, never goes away, never improves… and all your body needs to do is be shown how to heal itself.

The first few minutes, sure, you’d be strong.

About an hour in, you’d be thinking “this sucks”

After a few more hours, and no respite, you’d be reaching for anti-inflammatories and painkillers. Maybe a hit of oxycontin or pethidine would do the trick. Oh, but this is just a mask…

See, about 6 to 10 hours after that hit, it’s back, and now because your body has had a hit of an opiate based painkiller, it’s starting to shut down it’s own analgesic producing pathways, and producing more of the receptors that said opiates bind to… not so many that you notice right away, noooo… see this is an insidious little beast this one.

So, you start taking more… and more… and for a time it’s good. You almost feel like life is normal again. Then slowly… days, weeks, months… the doses are more frequent. The doses become larger.

Pretty soon, you’ve moved from pethidine to methadone… and then to morphine.

And then one day, your doctor simply tells you that they can’t provide anything strong enough.

Of course, this is no longer important, since you’re hooked, addicted, and now your body is jonesing for it’s next fix just to stay normal, much less deal with the pain that your still degenerating nervous system is putting you through. You’d sell the car and walk everywhere if it meant getting more of a fix to kill the pain, except that your legs stopped working months ago because the nerve trunks in your lower spine are practically nonexistent.

You’d kill yourself if you could… up the dosage, but now you’re in palliative care, because you can’t function well enough to administer your own doses. Of course, if someone helps with your euthanasia, they’re in trouble, so you’re caught in a moral no-mans-land like nothing else.

I’ve known people over the years that prove the stereotypes wrong… junkies that live normal lives, for decades, even though they’re on the gear… people with conditions that doctors say will kill them in 5 years live another 25 years and still going strong… people who refuse to let others dictate to them how and when and why they should do ANYTHING.

My fathers mother (I never knew her) died of stomach cancer. She was pregnant for a time whilst being treated for it, and my uncle was given last rites before being baptised, he was that tiny. Ironic, considering that he’d make most sumo’s think twice, he’s that big. Whenever someone gets on their high horse about drugs and medicine, my first thought is of her, with my grandmother (maternal) a close second. Both died of cancer, only my grandmother had almost 90 years to get used to the idea of dying, whereas dads mother had less than half that.

See, dad’s mum… she took heroin at the end, such was the pain that she endured. Stomach cancer, you see, is INCREDIBLY painful. Ever been punched in the stomach? Ok, that’s about 1 percent of the pain you get with a stomach ulcer… and a stomach ulcer, that’s about 1 percent of the pain of stomach cancer.

it. just. doesn’t. quit.

She took heroin, not because she was a junky, not because she was looking to get high, not because of boredom or to dull the stresses of stardom or life in general. She took it simply because nothing else could remove the physical pain of a disease that took her before her time.

I’ve only ever seen pictures of her, but I tell you this without a word of exaggeration : she was one of the most beautiful women i’ve ever seen. Think Venus. Think Aphrodite. Think Helen of Troy, Guinavere… I could go on, but I think by now, you’ve gotten my point.

Now, she died some 40+ years ago, so medical science was far less developed than now. But in 40 years, our understanding has improved a mere scratch on the cosmic scale compared to what we need to know in order to beat these maladies.

I don’t fear for my eternal soul… but I know that for us all, these illnesses that ravage our bodies engender fear in everyone. See, death doesn’t scare me, but dying does. And having seen someone slip away slowly, piece by piece, I know that I want that experience to be as quick as possible.

Stem cell research and therapeutic cloning may lead to breakthroughs in other areas. Who knows where it could take our species.

One thought on “Religion and Science… Part 2

    […] derived from it could easily yield the ability to replace damaged teeth. I’ve already had a lot to say about stem cell research, so I won’t go into repeating my position […]

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