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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Limbo dancing

Today, in the House of Commons, MPs will be voting on three-person babies. For the uninitiated, this is a technique to prevent children being born with life-limiting conditions and disabilities. It has been rigorously tested, and is considered safe and effective. All three people involved in creating the new life are consenting, and a teeny-tiny bit of the DNA (just to replace the faulty part) will be used from the third-person donor.

It stops children dying at birth. At age 2. At age 7. At age 21. It will save hundreds of parents the devastation of losing a child.

This pisses off the Church, who would much rather children suffer (hence "suffer the little children" - they are quite clear about this. I'm not sure why we haven't rumbled them sooner.)

What I really fail to understand is why the Church thinks this is any of its business at all. It's just surreal. I wonder if they regularly phone up Audi and say, "The bishops are divided on the issue of your Vorsprung durch Technik. Therefore, the Church has no option but to condemn your Germanic engineering."

As far as I can tell, the Church's opinion on this issue is totally irrelevant.

It seems to me, far more relevant for scientists to have an opinion on some of the utter guff that the Church puts out there. I'm not talking about the "be nice to people", "try not to murder" and, "why don't you take Sundays off?" I'm OK with most of that (so long as the shops stay open). I'm talking more the Catholic literal belief that taking communion literally (and yes, I do mean literally) turns into the flesh and blood of Jesus once it enters your body.

If I were a scientist, the first thing I would do is fight back. "You can have an opinion on our processes, once we have validated some of your own." I would get some willing volunteers to take Holy Communion, blessed by a Catholic priest, and then do some sort of endoscopy or gastric study to prove, once and for all that bread and wine categorically don't turn into human flesh once you've eaten them.

If they did, I rather think Cafe Rouge might have gone out of business by now.

The Catholic Church believes (or used to believe, until last week, or something, when they - based on no further evidence either way - scientifically changed their minds) the spirits of dead, unbaptised babies fly round an imaginary place called Purgatory.

But, according to the Church, we should condemn a new, evidence-based, life-saving medical procedure, and add to that number of dead Purgatory babies, rather than increase the numbers of live, healthy ones.

Good work, humans!

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