Month Archives: August 2008

Nancy’s War on Science

by Michael Fragoso

August 28, 2008

By the time Nancy Pelosi digs herself out of the hole her abortion comments have gotten her into, she’ll likely have reached some of the crude oil she’s keeping off the market.

In defending her utterly baffling assertion that the “doctors of the Church” never were in agreement on when life begins she now cites some lesser commentary by St. Augustine (Questiones de Exodo), which states, “the law does not provide that the act [abortion] pertains to homicide, for there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation.” 

One gets the impression that Pelosi had some vague memory about Augustine on abortion and then some poor staffer had to go digging around the endnotes of Michael Gorman’s Abortion & the Early Church (a pretty reliable little book, I might add). I’m now curious to know if Pelosi ascribes to all of Augustine’s positions, or merely those that appear to be convenient to her.  Is it wrong to cry over sad love stories?  Must sex always have a reproductive intent?  What’s the moral status of concubinage?  Is slavery always wrong?

Never mind the fact that Augustine still thought embryonic abortion was immoral (see On Marriage and Concupiscence), and later in life complicated his own earlier views on ensoulment.  The fact is that his alleged support for Pelosi is reliant on incomplete, 5th century science.  His determination on the soul of the embryo/fetus is based on the empirical determination of science: does the early child in the womb have “sensation”?  At the time the answer seemed to be “no.”  Now we know, through advances in embryology, that from conception we have a living human being, animated in its self-directed development from the first instant of fertilization. 

Apparently Pelosi would rather base her political opinions on the natural philosophy of ancient Romans than on modern science.  What’s next, a Medicare Prescription Leach Bill?  A Congressional task force ensuring that the American people have their humors in proper balance? 

Lost Without Your Cow?

by David Prentice

August 28, 2008

HappyCow2.jpgLost in the woods and don’t know which way is north? Should have brought along your cow.

Scientists have published a study reporting that cows seem to detect the Earth’s magnetic field and tend to orient themselves in a north-south direction out in the pasture.

The research team used satellite photos from Google Earth to analyze the orientation of 8,510 cattle at 308 sites around the globe. Examining the photos showed that the cows were more likely to be lined up north-south than to be pointing randomly. Of course this is only a correlation study and there may be many other reasons, such as wind direction or sun direction, for why cows line up the way they do.

Still, the idea of magnetic cows is fascinating. Hikers might want to start taking a cow with them. Besides finding north, when you’re lost you could get milk and cheese.

Throckmorton Commentary on APA Abortion and Mental Health Report

by Moira Gaul

August 27, 2008

Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology and fellow for psychology and public policy at Grove City College’s Center for Vision and Values, does a great job of highlighting the major flaws of the recent APA (American Psychological Association) report on abortion and mental health in a Washington Times op-ed today.

He exposes the organization’s conflicting position since 1969 holding abortion as a civil right, the fact that APA leadership has continually refused to meet with women who claim adverse health effect following abortion, the one study basis of report headline conclusion, and other criticisms by pro-choice researcher/reviewer Fergusson.

Embryonic Stem Cells Rejected

by David Prentice

August 27, 2008

Stanford researchers have published results that verify, yes, human embryonic stem cells are rapidly rejected by the immune system, considered foreign enemies when injected into the body. When transplanted into mice with normal immune systems, the cells were dead within a week. In subsequent transplant attempts the embryonic stem cells were eliminated even faster, showing that the immune system had been primed to reject the cells, similar to a vaccination.

The current paper is no surprise. Earlier reports showed the same rejection using mouse embryonic stem cells injected into the heart, with increasing rejection potential as the cells differentiated. With other differentiated embryonic stem cells similar rejection has been observed.

Of course, the FDA has yet to approve any clinical trial with embryonic stem cells because these cells (whether growing or even pre-differentiated) have a nasty tendency to form cancerous tumors. But the current findings show there are multiple problems with potential application of embryonic stem cells for humans.

Take The Shortcut: Making One Adult Cell From Another

by David Prentice

August 27, 2008

Harvard scientists report they have transformed one type of adult cell directly into another adult cell type, producing the specialized pancreatic beta-cells that secrete insulin.  In what some have called a “groundbreaking advance“, three genes were added to pancreatic cells within living mice, and this was enough to directly change the cells into insulin-secreting cells.  Though similar to the reprogramming technique developed by Yamanaka of Japan, this new application eliminates the need to form embryonic type stem cells.  Doug Melton of Harvard reported on the experiments back in June, but this is the first peer-reviewed publication of the results, online in the journal Nature.

Harvard researchers had previously reported production of disease-specific cell lines using the Yamanaka technique. But embryonic types of stem cells continue to show problems forming mature, functional cells, as well as their tendency to form tumors. Melton has worked for years trying to make insulin-secreting cells from embryonic stem cells. This new technique directly turns one type of fully formed adult cell into another type of adult cell, eliminating the problematic step back to embryonic stem cells. It also completely bypasses any need for using embryos or cloning for research.

Minimum drinking age or maximum parental protection?

by Michael Leaser

August 26, 2008

More than 100 college presidents want lawmakers to consider lowering the minimum drinking age to 18, citing current law as an excuse for furtive alcohol abuse on campus. Dubbed the Amethyst Initiative, this movement has sparked intense debate over the efficacy of such a measure, including the argument that it would put more pressure on high schools to deal with near-legal adolescent drinking. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which has come out against this initiative, has compiled a set of statistics that includes data on the costs of underage drinking, as well as the significant influence parents have.


The latest Mapping America goes even further, examining federal survey data which show that one of the most effective extralegal deterrents to abusive youth drinking is married biological parents.

HHS Proposed Conscience Regs Published in Federal Register

by Chris Gacek

August 26, 2008

Today, the Federal Register published the Department of Health and Human Services’ notice of proposed rulemaking that seeks to ensure that HHS “funds do not support coercive or discriminatory policies or practices in violation of federal law” (lower case mine). The notice for these proposed conscience protection rules can be found in PDF via this link. The deadline for filing comments is September 25, 2008.

HHS Announces Conscience Protection Regulations

by Chris Gacek

August 22, 2008

Julia Duin (Washington Times) has written a fair article today on the proposed regulations that HHS will publish soon in the Federal Register and which are designed to “protect doctors and other health care professionals from being fired or discriminated against for refusing to provide abortions for conscience or religious reasons.” HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt has blogged about the regulations and the reasons that make their promulgation necessary. A draft copy of the proposed regulations is available from Sec. Levitt’s blog using this link. Yesterday, Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, released this statement.

Perkins Perspective: The Call

by Tony Perkins

August 22, 2008

I got side tracked this week on presidential politics and did not get to share my perspective on The Call which took place on the Mall here in DC this past Saturday.  It was an amazing day, from the incredibly pleasant August day to the praise and worship to the prayers of thousands being lifted up for America.  I wasable to join Lou Engle for about half of the 12 hour event. 

tony_thecall.jpg

The media had a hard time understanding why 70,000 plus people came to Washington not to call for the reining in of the run-away courts, nor to promote a political party.  Rather, The Call was a recognition of a spiritual deficit in our nation for which we as Christians must take responsible (2 Chronicles 7:14) and that is what happened on Saturday.  That is not to say that the key moral issues that our nation is facing were not addressed. There was clearly a recognition of the threat that abortion and the spread of same-sex marriage poises to the future of America.  But they were recognized for what they are, symptoms of our spiritual deficiency.   What was most encouraging to me was that most of those 70,000 plus who came to DC from across the country were young people.  While those in the media and even some “religious” leaders claim young evangelicals care more about issues other than life and marriage the evidence suggest otherwise.  A Pew poll last year showed that 71% of young white evangelicals believe abortion should be restricted.  The poll shows that these young evangelicals are more pro-life than their parents.  That conviction was clearly visible on the Mall last weekend.

Little Hope for Religious Freedom in China after the Olympics

by Bill Saunders

August 21, 2008

As we saw in the Olympics the problem is not the wonderful Chinese people it is the woeful Chinese government. The government increased persecution in the lead-up to the Olympics and there is no reason to think it will change after the Olympics. See my new paper about the increase in religious persecution before the Olympics, which is a true prediction of what will happen afterwards.

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