Tuesday, July 16, 2013

All Around the Web - July 16, 2013

Joe Carter - The Advent of Three-Parent Designer Babies |

The Story: The United Kingdom may soon become the first country to allow the creation of babies using DNA from three people, after the government backed the in vitro fertilization (IVF) technique. . . . 

Why It Matters: The innovation and its acceptance combine two of the most troubling bioethical issues related to IVF. The creation of three-parent embryos and "designer babies" are each troubling. But to combine them is a significant leap forward into dehumanizing eugenics.
Eugenics is the practices of improving the genetic composition of a population by increasing the number of people who have a more desired trait and reducing those with less desirable traits. Currently, our most common eugenics practice is to screen for children who may have Down syndrome and then kill them before they are born. It is estimated that upward of 90 percent of Down syndrome pregnancies are aborted.

Increasingly, though, IVF techniques are being created that allow certain genetic traits to be eliminated or selected from an embryo before they are implanted. This in itself is not morally problematic, so long as no embryos are being destroyed. But in bioethics the line between therapy (preventing or curing diseases) and enhancement (improving capabilities not related to disease) is often blurred.

Even when such distinctions can be made, our culture of unfettered personal choice makes it nearly impossible to say that certain "enhancements" should not be made. If we allow genetic changes to prevent mitochondrial disease, why should we not allow such changes to make sure a child is born with blue eyes, blonde hair, and a fair complexion?

Added to this concern is the problem of allowing three genetic "parents." Since the creation of IVF in 1978 we've been able to sever sex from procreation; now we are able to sever parenthood from procreation. By mixing in some genetic material, anyone can be added to the "parental line" of a child. A polygamist family could have any number of genetic fathers and mothers. Who then would be legally entitled to be claimed as the "parents"? If current legal trends hold, the answer would be "all of them."

Christians should attempt to do what we can to hold the line against techniques that degrade our humanity. But as long as "what can be done, must be done" is the only ethic our culture acknowledges, we may not be able to stop this immoral advance. We have entered a Brave New World that we are unprepared for—legally, political, ethically, and culturally—and from which we may not be able to turn back.


Thinking Christian - Three Reasons Freedom of Religion Matters |

1. Dethroning the state
2. Freedom of conscience
3. Religion as conscience to the state

. . .

Other freedoms work hand-in-hand with religious liberty, including freedom of speech, assembly, voting, and others. These all work together together to help ensure limits on the state's power. Still there is no other liberty, no freedom-of-something-or-other, that can accomplish the same public good that freedom of religion can.

Thus if current trends continue, and the state mandates that individuals cooperate with gay “marriage” against their religious beliefs, the state will be harming more than just those who are directly affected. It will be encroaching on the very institutions and principles that help ensure liberty for all.
Therefore to the extent that gay-rights advocates look to the state to force “freedoms” down other persons' throats, they're undermining liberty in general. In the end this will prove counterproductive even to their own cause.

Religious freedom is unique.There is nothing else like it to limit the state's bent toward authoritarianism. For the good of all the people — unbelievers included — it must stand.


The Chronicle of Higher Education - The New Theist | Here's a good article on apologists William Lane Craig.

When, during a conversation in a swank hotel lobby in Manhattan, I mentioned to Richard Dawkins that I was working on a story about William Lane Craig, the muscles in his face clenched.

"Why are you publicizing him?" Dawkins demanded, twice. The best-selling "New Atheist" professor went on to assure me that I shouldn't bother, that he'd met Craig in Mexico—they opposed each other in a prime-time, three-on-three debate staged in a boxing ring—and found him "very unimpressive."
"I mean, whose side are you on?" Dawkins said. "Are you religious?"

Several months later, in April 2011, Craig debated another New Atheist author, Sam Harris, in a large, sold-out auditorium at the University of Notre Dame. In a sequence of carefully timed speeches and rejoinders, the two men clashed over whether we need God for there to be moral laws. Harris delivered most of the better one-liners that night, while Craig, in suit and tie, fired off his volleys of argumentation with the father-knows-best composure of Mitt Romney, plus a dash of Schwarzenegger. Something Harris said during the debate might help explain how Dawkins reacted: He called Craig "the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists."


Stand to Reason - Should Christians Impose Their Moral Standards on Society? |

It’s perfectly acceptable to legislate morality. When you think about it, morals are the only thing you can legislate. For example, we have laws against stealing for one reason: it’s immoral to take someone’s property. So, we take that moral rule and establish it in law.

The same is true for laws against murder. The reason they exist is because we think it’s immoral to kill an innocent human being. So, we take that moral rule and make it against the law to break it. By legislating that rule, we are legislating morality.

In fact, it’s the moral rule that legitimizes the law’s power to limit freedom. Without a moral grounding, laws would be unjust. They would be the raw use of power to get what someone wants, not to do what’s right. That’s called tyranny.


Rasmussen - Public Approval of Supreme Court Falls to All-Time Low |

The U.S. Supreme Court finished its term with big decisions on voting rights, affirmative action and same-sex marriage. Following those rulings, public approval of the court has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded in more than nine years of polling. 

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 28% believe the Supreme Court is doing a good or an excellent job. At the same time, 30% rate its performance as poor. That’s the highest-ever poor rating. It’s also the first time ever that the poor ratings have topped the positive assessments. Thirty-nine percent (39%) give the court middling reviews and rate its performance as fair. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

These numbers are even weaker than the numbers recorded following the Supreme Court ruling upholding the president’s health care law last year. Just before the court heard arguments on the health care law, 28% gave the justices good or excellent marks. However, disapproval was far lower than it is today. Then, following those arguments, many thought the court was likely to overturn the law. At that point, positive ratings for the court shot up to 41%, the highest level in years. However, when the court eventually upheld the health care law, the numbers fell again. Just 29% offered a positive review early that September.


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