19 May 2008

You know, I actually agree with Brown

Gordon Brown has stated a moral case for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill:

But I believe that we owe it to ourselves and future generations to introduce these measures, and in particular, to give our unequivocal backing within the right framework of rules and standards, to stem-cell research.

Let me be clear: if we want to sustain stem-cell research and bring new cures and treatments to millions of people, I believe admixed embryos are necessary. The question for me is not whether they should exist, but how their use should be controlled.

I think he's right. If we save one life, make one person's living conditions a little better as a result of research made legal by this Bill, then it will be worth it.

And what of those faith leaders who oppose it?

There are complaints from some quarters that there is a plot to secularise society, to suppress religion and Christianity. There will no doubt be some who see this Bill as part of that move, completely turning society's back on Christian teachings.

But is it?

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

That was the Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 25, verses 34 to 40. I don't quote the Bible very often (or ever) but I remember that quote from RE classes back in the day.

Seems clear to me: Christianity supports treating people who are ill, and this research could help to do just that. But so-called Christians want to stop that research from taking place.

Perhaps they ought to stop shouting, stop accusing politicians of plots to undermine them, stop threatening their opponents with eternal damnation, and start re-reading their Bible, starting with Matthew 25.


Bill said...

If you didn't watch this evening's 'Dispatches' on C4 (8-9pm) it might be worth seeing it on C4's catch-up service. As well as the comedy features such as Stephen Green's 'Christian Voice' it is clear that American-style (and at least partly funded from the US) religious crackpots are already influencing British politicians - notably the Conservatives with their support for the changes to UK abortion law. Naturally enough homosexuals are a target of these bigots, too. Frankly I think writing them off as crackpots who will never affect policy-making in the future would be complacent in the extreme; give it 10 or 20 years then the danger they represent will be all too obvious.

Will said...

Well, Bill, I shall have to watch that, but it strikes me that you should never write off a crackpot - they might still be crackpots, but all it takes is for one of them to have money, or for enough of them to live in marginal constituencies, and they get their way. That doesn't make them less of a crackpot, but it does make them more of a threat.

And what concerns me, particularly about the Scottish dimension, is that the threat comes from both right - in the form of neo-Con tubthumpers in the US style - and left - in the form of the (mainly Labour) MSPs and MPs who follow the more hardline elements of the Catholic Church, as preached by the likes of Bishop Devine. Neither force on their own will hold much sway, but if they combine, even for a moment, we've had it.

Bill said...

Well I certainly agree that if various seemingly disparate groups combine 'even for a minute' then they could prove extremely dangerous - and this may well happen in future years, I have a sinking feeling. The '10 or 20 years' point I was making referred, however, to the relatively small number (so far) of schools where US-style 'creationsism' is being taught in this country. Those kids will be going to university in 10 or so years and having their own kids in 15 or 20 years - and will probably want more similar schools opened for their children; this kind of thinking could grow quite rapidly. Recent US history does not leave me very sanguine that similar trends could not occur here, too. Luckily I'll be quite old, or dead, by then or living permanently in Spain ;)

Ted Harvey said...

Too right we need always beware the crackpot. After all, one of Blair's legacies is the foundation schools/acadamies where any right wing religious zealot with the dollars get's to run a school - with public backing.

But neither would I wholly focus in Scotland on the Labour/Devine danger.
I do think that there is a soft underbelly in the SNP that is prone to what is politely called a 'conservative social agenda' - Hence the unsettling scuttling off down to Westminster this week by Alex Salmond to back the contrived attempt by the zealots to 'piggy back' on the back of the Embryology Bill an attempt to further restrict abortion. This guy has already needlessly gone out of his way to praise sectarian divided schooling here in Scotland... and off course we have that buses man Soutar always hovering around.

Will said...

You're quite right, Ted: I was at pains to qualify my reference to Labour but it does need to be highlighted that, yes, the SNP are vulnerable to both sides of the argument. And given that the Party is a somewhat broader church - if you'll pardon the pun - than most others on account of its roots and what its core principle is, the SNP are more especially vulnerable to the 'pincer' movement. Fortunately, that same breadth of opinion gives the SNP a solid enough liberal base to resist any moves in the short-term, and there are enough social progressives in Labour to keep the faith-based drives in check, but in both parties, work needs to be done to keep things that way.

Ted Harvey said...

Well said will

Anonymous said...

People who want to do dodgy science always claim that miracle cures might result.

I'd be a little more convinced if someone could point to even one miracle cure. Just one.

I don't expect to get knocked down in the rush.

Will said...

Anon: Penicillin.