conceptualizer

April 3, 2008

Embryology Bill

Embryology Bill

WARNING: If you are religious and intolerant of other people having a negative view of religion, don’t to read this post.

The discord around this subject fits a pattern I have seen before. Some people, I will call them moral fundamentalists, think they have the right to try to impose their moral systems on everyone. Their guidance and edicts should be directed only toward people who have agreed to adhere to their moral code. They have no mandate to affect anyone else. In this particular case religious moral fundamentalists also presume to know better than anyone else the correct treatment of complex issues concerning genetics, despite having no expertise in the area. They have extrapolated some principles from ancient texts that they have been able to associate with the issues. In truth they have no original text guidance on these issues, the associations they make are loose, the extrapolations fanciful and containing surreptitious motives, and they are made by contemporary administrators, not deities or prophets. Like all fundamentalists, they are a danger to themselves and everyone that comes into contact with them, because they have an uncompromising extreme stance that they insist on everyone conforming to and they cannot see that they are fundamentalists. If you are disagreeing with this now you are probably a fundamentalist, but you will also deny it.
These religious moral fundamentalists are using this issue to support the supposed currency of what is an anachronistic and mostly static system in an increasingly sophisticated and rapidly evolving world. As ever more complex new issues arise this overextending of their original texts becomes increasingly obvious, so that today a smaller proportion of well educated people than ever are interested in their views. Their problems are rooted partly in the need to imply authority through the use of absolutes, tradition, longevity and divinity, and partly in using static texts as a basis for all their views. For those views to be taken seriously they also must either be static or evolve very slowly to give the impression of considered authority. Obviously, this requirement is out of step at a very basic level with an increasingly rapidly evolving world.
Good science can prove itself and delivers tangible benefits, where religion cannot prove it is correct and its benefits are mainly intangible. I suspect that most modern religion is a way of obtaining power and money and to do this it takes advantage of the less well educated in society. As the quality or at least the pervasiveness of education has improved there has been a corresponding decrease in interest. To survive they need to change their strategy to provide other services.
One would think that members of the Catholic church would have the sense to keep a low profile on science based issues, having an extremely poor track record in this area. Are we still supposed to be at the centre of everything according to them, or has that changed now the scientists have shown this to be false? One member of the Catholic church cynically appealed to the least well educated in society with scare stories of Frankenstein creations, shamelessly courting publicity. Worryingly a number of politicians who are supposed to running this country turn out to have sympathies with religious groups. Gordon Brown should remove anyone from government that allows any such views to influence their roles in government; mostly because promoting a religious view is not in their job description, but also because they have a dubious grasp on reality, probably because of a deficiency in their education. Why is he allowing them a free vote anyway? They were given office to serve the people and that includes the people’s well being, not to promote their respective religions. Members of the government need to adhere to government principles and they should be to promote the health and wellbeing of all the people, not the influence any religious group.
Some religious groups believe there is one fundamentally important and valuable aspect of a person, often referred to as ‘the soul’, which is present even in an embryo. The concept of soul is useful to provide differential status and hence treatment, between for example people and animals. Disproving the existence of a soul is probably an intractable problem and a battle that need not be fought. One may circumvent this issue by encouraging the religious to reinterpret their own texts. A new interpretation could extricate them from their moral dilemma. For example, selective divine intervention to prevent misuse of souls, whether retrospective or proactive. One could also envisage a special case where addition of a soul is conditional upon a priori knowledge of the embryo’s destiny. There are probably some other schemes that could be employed, but the latter has the advantage that it could be applied in tragic cases such as prenatal death. All they need do is pick such a scheme and use their talents for interpretation to find some text to support it. Then they can gain even more publicity by announcing that in fact their religion was in already aware and prepared for these discoveries hundreds of years ago and that science has just caught up. Sadly, some people will believe them. Hopefully they will reinterpret, then we can all move on peacefully and the scientists can continue to save lives.

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October 12, 2007

Anglophobic rescue and ‘the thin red line’

Gordon Brown again refuses the UK a vote on the EU treaty. This is apparently because if our ‘red lines’ are unbroken we don’t need one; as if that was ever a good reason. A good reason is the matter of where ultimate authority should exist, increasingly it is in European institutions. However, he has committed a tactical blunder. I think we now can rely on our Anglophobic neighbours to push forward some measures to break those ‘red lines’ and on the opposition to point out their success. He has effectively ceded the opportunity to point out the treaty problems via a referendum, to Anglophobic negotiators who need only cross one of our ‘red lines’. I trust that we can depend upon them if not Gordon Brown.
To cross one of these ‘red lines’ may seem to be self defeating as it promises a veto on the treaty, but the Anglophobic continentals may take a longer view. They can initiate a process of excluding us if everyone else accepts the treaty. We would be marginalised again and eventually forced to withdraw or enter into a second tier less influential membership. This is a high stakes gamble as some other countries may also veto or vote ‘no’. Perhaps we should pre-empt this form of attack by arguing for a lighter European membership project and making it our own. This would in fact be better for us and could also be argued for as a staging point for new country membership. It could ultimately become the more successful European club and would allow us to offer an alternative European vision. Then countries would have a choice of membership styles.

September 29, 2007

The age of politicians

Filed under: Debate, Musings, Politics — Tags: , , , — conceptualizer @ 3:15 pm

What is the ideal age for a politician? Clearly neither extreme is good, so as we converge toward the middle ground there must be a best range, perhaps even a best year. It probably varies a little from person to person, but roughly where is it? I was thinking perhaps 45 to 55 might be the golden years. What do we think? Is Menzies Campbell too old, Davis Cameron too young and Gordon Brown about right?

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