The Religion of Stem Cells

A quick followup to the last post. William Saletan of Slate.com wrote a brilliant piece on the debate over stem cells, called Revelation of the Nerds--
The religion of stem-cell research
a few weeks back.

Saletan shows how the fairy tale of stem cells has become a full blown religious crusade, emphasizing "the power of will, hope, and belief in the absence of evidence" that stem cells will actual provide cures.

I've been pretty open about my doubts about stem cells, in this blog and in a recent commentary for Sojourners, and my frustration that it's being covered as a Galileo like conflict--about religion standing in the way of progress, without any one asking hard questions about the research--like how much will it cost, and what are the chances it will work.

As Saletan point out, something dramatic has changed. Stem cells has become religion, and is being sold using the techniques of faith healers and televangelists -- have faith, believe in miracles, and trust us with billions of dollars and your votes. Never mind the evidence, or lack thereof--believe and expect a miracle.

That's not good, enough, says Saletan, in reponse to a Kerry speech on stem cells.

I want to have faith, John. I want to hope and dream. I want to believe in the magic and the miracles and the power of prayer. But if you want to preserve trust in science, stick to the evidence.


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