The Vatican Stem Cell Meeting…is mixing religion and science a good idea?

Why does it worry me that the Vatican is having a stem cell conference?

One of the hallmarks of Democracy is separation of church and state. When states mix religion into politics and government, the results have during human history been disastrous.

Equally dismal has been the relationship between religion and science.

Ever since the time when a common myth supported by the church was that the Earth was the center of the universe, scientists have had trouble when their experiments and ideas conflicted with religious doctrine.

You can view the list of speakers here.

Of the speakers, there are only a few names I recognize from the stem cell field including only one established stem cell scientist: Konrad Hochedlinger.

I’d be very interested in hearing about his experience at the meeting if he is interested in talking about it afterwards.

Arthur Caplan, a Bioethicist, is an interesting speaker to be sure who will be there.

Also present will be FRC anti-ES cell guy, David Prentice.

Wisconsin Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Tommy Thompson will also be present. In the past Thompson has publicly supported ES cell research so apparently his position has evolved. It’ll be interesting to hear what he has to say at this particular conference. As with most Republican candidates the safest prediction is that he has flip-flopped on this issue.

Also part of the conference is the biotech NeoStem, which has received substantial funding from the Vatican.

The meeting is to take place in mid-November.

Of course anybody can have a meeting if they like and pay for it themselves, but what we can expect is a slew of alleged news items coming out of this particular meeting about how great adult stem cells are and how horrible ES cells are.

Stay tuned.

 

3 Comments


  1. I checked the list of speakers, and Konrad Hochedlinger does not appear to be on it any longer. John Wagner is excellent, but if you look at the conference program, you will see that he is speaking on bone marrow transplants and related therapies, where he certainly is an expert. Art Caplan is a panel moderator, not a speaker. Peter Hollands, who is on the ethics panel, has done embryonic stem cell research, but now focuses on cord blood stem cells, which he says “have all the potential of embryonic stem cells without the associated problems and objections.” (When has that been shown???)


  2. If the Vatican wants to throw a bone to the adult stem cell community, good. If the Vatican (or some politician/business-wo-man) attacks the science of embryonic stem cells, counter attack. Heck, you should have the intellectual and factual ammunition to demolish their argument. So where’s the beef, or are you just ranting about the scientific status of those who attend this particular conference?

    Yes, Bruno was burned for not being in line with religious doctrine. Scientists also have trouble when their data do not conform to political doctrine (geneticists were executed in Soviet Russia). Business, politics, and religion are self-corrupting and all corrupt each other. Religion, business and political interests are all famously malignant to honesty — and honesty is the foundation of science.

    Scientists are funded in all sorts of impure ways. (The military industrial complex funds a lot of science, and that is almost as loathsome to me as religion.) The beauty of science is that something honest is eventually distilled from the chaos and petty self-interest. Fight on, but it’s a waste of breath to complain that others want to play in your sandbox.

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