Church

Let the Cloning Obfuscation Begin

Wesley J. Smith in the National Review:

Now that human cloning is upon us, look for many scientists and their camp followers (or ignorant reporters) to mislead about what the technology entails. Human SCNT creates human embryos through asexual means. It does not create stem cells. To obtain cloned stem cells, the embryos have to be nurtured and maintained in a dish for about 10 days, destroyed, and the stem cell lines derived.

But don’t look for the embryo part to make many stories. Early case in point, a story by Loren Grush on FNC:

In a major medical breakthrough, researchers at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) have for the first time ever successfully converted human skin cells into embryonic stem cells–via a technique called nuclear transfer. The research has major implications for the future of medical treatments, as many believe embryonic stem cells are the key to treating damaged cells lost through injury or illness.  According to various medical researchers, stem cell therapy has the potential to treat anything from heart disease and spinal cord injuries to major neurological diseases, like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Through a common laboratory method known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), ONPRC scientists, along with researchers at Oregon Health & Science University, essentially swapped the genetic codes of an unfertilized egg and a human skin cell to create their new embryonic stem cells…The combination of the egg’s cytoplasm and the skin cell’s nucleus eventually grows and develops into the embryonic stem cell.

False! Repeat after me: The unfertilized egg is not turned into stem cells. Rather, in the same cloning process as resulted in Dolly the sheep, it becomes an embryo, which is destroyed to obtain the cells. Moreover, the process is hardly common. In fact, this is the first time SCNT has worked in humans. That’s why it’ a big story!

The human cloning issue is going go be a Mt. Everest of ethical contention. If we are going to discuss this rationally, we need accurate information from the scientists and the media. I plan to hold both to account in this regard going forward.

 

Church

Report: Canadians Turning Away from Organized Religion

Religion News Service reports:

A new national study shows that while Canada remains overwhelmingly Christian, Canadians are turning their backs on organized religion in ever greater numbers.

Results from the 2011 National Household Survey show that more than two-thirds of Canadians, or some 22 million people, said they were affiliated with a Christian denomination.

At 12.7 million, Roman Catholics were the largest single Christian group, representing 38 percent of Canadians; the second largest was the United Church, representing about 6 percent; while Anglicans were third, representing about 5 percent of the population.

Observers noted that among the survey’s most striking findings is that one in four Canadians, or 7.8 million people, reported they had no religious affiliation at all. That was up sharply from 16.5 percent from the 2001 census, and 12 percent in 1991.

The Canadian trend seems to mirror but even exceed levels of non-affiliation in the United States. A 2012 survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life pegged the ratio of religiously unaffiliated Americans at just under 20 percent.

But Pew also has found that more than one-quarter of American adults (28 percent) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion — or no religion at all.

The Canadian study showed that just more than 7 percent of the country was Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist, an increase from 5 percent a decade earlier…

Officials in Ottawa stressed that the NHS results, which also examined trends in immigration and ethnic diversity, could be unreliable. Because it was a voluntary survey, it is “subject to potentially higher non-response error than those derived from the census long form,” Statistics Canada cautioned…

Reginald Bibby, a sociologist at the University of Lethbridge and one of Canada’s foremost trackers and interpreters of religious trends, said the NHS findings “do not point to the demise of religion in Canada. But the findings document the tendency of Canadians to reflect the pattern of people across the planet in variously embracing or rejecting religion.”