March 26, 2008

Bailey to Vatican: "Is Suppressing Scientific Research Sinful?"

So, the Vatican has declared "experiments [and] genetic manipulation" as "violations of certain fundamental rights of human nature."

science correspondent Ronald Bailey has put a delightful spin on this and wonders if scientific ignorance and the suppression of vital biotechnological research is the true evil at play here:
First, the Vatican has not spoken with clarity on the issue of genetically improving crops. Back in 2003, the London Times reported that the Vatican would soon come out in favor of biotech crops as part of the solution for world starvation and malnutrition. A year later, a message from Pope John Paul II expressed reservations about biotech crops. Last year, Filipino Archbishop Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales warned that "genetically modified crops and food products could be very harmful to the environment and to human beings." The Archbishop is factually wrong about the alleged dangers of current biotech crops. What are the divine penalties for the sin of scientific ignorance?

The Roman Catholic and generally free market think tank, the Acton Institute, notes that some religious thinkers believe that it might be all right with God for us to modify plants, but not animals. The distinction is based upon the idea that while God commanded Noah to save animal lineages, the Almighty said nothing about preserving plants on the Ark. As evangelical biologist Calvin Dewitt explains, "These lineages are creations of the Creator, and they are... gifts to the whole of creation."

However, the Creator doesn't seem to be much of a steward of His Creation, since an estimated 99.9 percent of all species that ever lived are now extinct. And of course, argument against genetically modifying animals overlooks the fact that the genetic lineages of all domesticated animals have been dramatically modified by people over the millennia. Perhaps the souls of some of our ancestors are roasting in the infernal abyss for the sin of turning wolves into dogs and aurochs into Holsteins.
This is a great article and I suggest that you read more.

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