Posts Tagged ‘science’

The Morality of “Bodies Revealed”

March 7, 2013

Bodies Revealed is an educational exhibit that is traveling around the United States.   It is a unique display of human bodies in various stages of, I suppose you could say, dissection.  The bodies of people who had donated their remains to science have been disassembled to various degrees, preserved so that they will not decompose or smell, and then posed in various positions.  Some body organs are available for people to handle, so that we can literally hold another person’s heart in our hands.  It is claimed that it demonstrates the workings of the human body in a powerful and unique way.  The hope is that it will inspire a new generation of doctors, scientists, etc.

They are obeying the letter of the law.  The bodies were donated for educational purposes.  The end result may be positive in that it may result in people pursuing careers in the medical field.  It is possible that the driving forces behind the exhibit really do have motives that are more honorable than simply making money.

Even so, it just seems wrong to me.  I recognize that I am primarily relying on an intuition that other people may not share, and so there may not be many who agree that it is wrong.  It is not possible to argue from intuition, all we can really do is see how many other people share our opinion.  We can also challenge some of the claims that provide moral support for the exhibit.

I do not have a problem with the use of human bodies for medical education and research.  However, the  vast majority of people who will be viewing this exhibit will not be  pursuing anything other than a morbid curiosity to see real human bodies.

Yes, people donated their bodies to science, without many restrictions.  I wonder if they would have donated their bodies if they were made aware previously that they would basically become preserved and publicly displayed?  In some regards, they are the subjects of human taxidermy.

Although some will be inspired to pursue medical careers, will some merely have their imaginations further excited?  In a time when we regularly see human bodies in all states of decomposition regularly displayed on our television sets, are there some people who want to see the real thing?  Will this lead some down the right path of medical research?  Will it lead some down a more sinister path?  What will be the true lasting consequences of this morbid display of human remains?

The exhibit has done very well at the places where is has been on display.  I suspect that revenue is up.  That is not a bad thing, our museums do need to meet their operational budgets.  It does make me wonder whether the motivation behind the exhibit is indeed, public education, or does it simply come down to profitability?

Were the scientists/artists who put the exhibit together motivated by a desire to share knowledge, or were they more excited about working with a medium that was taboo throughout most of human history?

As I said earlier, this might all be a perfectly moral enterprise.  I do not know any of the people involved.  They might all be wonderful people, working from pure motives.

It just seems wrong to me.

What do you think?

 

 

 

Science and Religion

September 16, 2009

The best focus of scientific research is the present material realm.  Science is a wonderful tool for examining the workings of the world in which we live.  It provides us with much useful information that helps to make our lives better.

Religion deals with the world around us as well.  However religion goes beyond what we see to the realm of the nonmaterial.  Of course, not everyone believes in the existence of the nonmaterial, but many people do.  Religion provides a degree of understanding, a sense of purpose, and a basis for ethical behaviour. 

Science and religion do not have to be adversaries.  Their areas of primary emphasis are different.  Actually, they are wonderful compliments to each other, when the relationships between them, and the limitations of each are properly defined.

Obama Reverses Stem-Cell Policy

March 10, 2009

President Obama has reversed the Bush administration’s policy on stem-cell research, opening the way for new embryo’s to be processed for use in research, funded by government dollars.  He said “Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values.”

Actually, he is the one making a false choice.  It is not all sound science that is the problem.  It is science that intentionally destroys innocent human life.

As for morality, I hope that we can agree that it is wrong to intentionally destroy innocent human life.

So, this brings up the question of when does human life begin?  This is a religious, or philosophical question, not a scientific one.    There are many people in this country who believe that human life begins at conception.  Therefore, for all of those people, embryonic stem cell research may be  scientific, but it is, and always will be immoral. 

President Obama has clearly sided with a certain philosophical view regarding the beginning of human life.  That is clear from his views, and his action, on abortion and embryonic stem cell research.  That is the choice that has been made, not a choice between morals and science.

It is the wrong choice.