Both Rusty at New Covenant and Matt at Wheat and Chaff have posted in the last couple days to bash Christopher Reeve for promoting embryonic stem cell (ESC) research. They say that he is selfish and self-serving for promoting "death" to improve his own position.This is a bit amusing considering that my post, Mere Comments on Christopher Reeve, was simply a direct copy of a post by Patrick Reardon over at Touchstone Magazine’s blog, Mere Comments. I clarified this point with Ed but instead of correcting his original post he compounded his error by adding a postscript in which he states,
PZ Myers has also been writing about this subject the last couple days, and as a developmental biologist lends some scientific details to the discussion. In this post, he discusses why ESC is important and why it may also be important to combine the research on adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells to unlock how they work; in this post, he looks at some other right wing nutballs who are tearing down Christopher Reeve far beyond what Rusty and Matt attempt. One of them even wonders if he arranged his death on purpose to become a martyr and help John Kerry get elected. Where do these idiots come from?Now, while I would love to take credit for the wise words penned by Patrick Reardon, they remain his words. Clarifications aside, I believe that the gist of Ed’s post highlights an inherent flaw in the worldview of naturalism. Ed argues that ESCR is, in reality, pro-life. He states,
The choice for ESC research is not between "destroying life" and not destroying life. The choice is between using the enormous store of frozen zygotes that will otherwise be tossed out for promising scientific research that can help millions of people over the next few decades, or simply tossing them out. That's the only choice we face.Note how, in his postscript, he links to posts by P. Z. Myers in which Myers argues for the validity of ESCR and how, in his opinion, opponents of ESCR are idiots. In his post, To people who hate humanity, Myers states,
When you tell me you think an embryo is the same as my kids, you cheapen the worth of my children. They are much, much more than that small thoughtless blob. You reduce the value of family to mindless chemistry and metabolism.Why do both Myers and Ed hold such strong beliefs on this issue? Myers is an avowed atheist, while Ed lives next door in the world of deism. Both follow some form of naturalism. Now, consider for a moment that naturalism posits that nature is all there is. If that is true, then when we die… we die – no heavenly existence, no beautiful afterlife, just nothing. So, if there’s nothing after this life, then how this life plays out in the here and now becomes our ultimate concern. The nihilist will tell you that since the universe has no ultimate meaning, it’s better to live your life to your best advantage – regardless of any adverse impact on society. There’s a bit of a problem with that line of thinking though, and both Myers and Ed know what it is – there is meaning in their lives. Whether it be through a spouse, child, mother, or friend, they are well acquainted with the existence of the abstract reality of love. I would argue that they are also well aware of how living their lives as nihilists, at the expense of those they love, would be inherently wrong. Interesting, isn’t it, how the idea of a common understanding of right and wrong always seems to show up? Think about it. What drives the intense emotion found in the words of Ed and Myers? They believe that this life, here and now, is all there is... or all they think they can be sure of. If you choose not to admit to the total hopelessness of such a position, then all you are left with is the task, pointless as it may be, of making this life as meaningful as you can. The atheist Michael Shermer illustrated the hopeless position of his worldview quite nicely on the recent PBS broadcast, The Question of God. He stated,
I don't believe there's an afterlife at all — this is all there is. For example, when my mother was dying, she had these brain tumors. They kept taking them out, they kept coming back. And this went on and on for 10 years. You know, I felt from the moment this started happening, that since I'll never see her again and she's not going anywhere and neither am I, this is it — every single moment I could have with her, everything I could say to her that was loving, all that just to me was incredibly enhanced by the fact that there is nothing else.You see? This life becomes so important that, eventually, Pragmatic Nihilism becomes our god. If, for the sake of someone like this, we state that this is not a human being... then how far removed are we from stating that this is not a human being? The ultimate reality of our existence manifests itself in many ways, not the least of which is love. Such a reality continues to be the deadly poison afflicting Naturalism. Although there are many people who have strongly steeped themselves in Naturalism’s brew, the poison remains in their bloodstream.