The biggest news that occurred during my short hiatus was the news that Shinya Yamamata had made pluripotent human stem cells by reprogramming somatic cells from the skin. In short, this changes the debate about destroying human embryos significantly. We have heard since the beginning that scientists needed to destroy human embryos in order to create cell-based therapies that would change medicine as we know it. We also have been told that cloning human embryos was the only way to get around the immune rejection problem. Throughout, scientists have made the claim that they only wish to destroy embryos because there was no other choice. You would think that this latest news would lead many to rejoice that they intentionally destroying embryos is no longer necessary.
Of course, this did not happen. Not surprisingly (nor surprising to Scott), there has been little movement in that direction. The reason is simple: it was not predominately about "finding cures" for patients in the first place. Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt that pro-embryo destruction proponents would be very pleased to find cures for degenerative diseases that up to this point could not be treated. They certainly used this argument to their advantage during the debate on the topic.
However, the main goal was not merely individual cures, but an ideology about science. Science as Savior. Scientific advancement as the only hope for humanity. The idea that ethical considerations could slow down the inevitable advancement of scientific is the enemy in our opponents view.
This is easily demonstrated by the response that many on the other side of the issue have had regarding this news. They used to claim that the destruction of human embryos was a necessity for any chance of amazing cures. Now that that argument has been taken from them, the veil has been lifted and their true reasoning is coming forth. Their argument have also become more desperate and deceitful. I plan on taking them down one by one in the next few posts.
In the meanwhile, I believe we should be relieved yet concerned regarding the future. It turns out that virtually all of the progress that has occurred in cellular science in the last few years has been accomplished using ethical techniques, while the destruction of human embryos has accomplished very little. Nevertheless, our opponents are still going strong, and showing their true colors in the process.