Inquisition of the scientists

Inquisition of the scientists

The reaction of certain quarters to the Church’s pastors making statements that apply to their flock is often so over-the-top that it’s humorous. Case in point: A Vatican cardinal says that Catholics who kill unborn embryonic children for the sake of stem-cell research are no different than those who kill them for plain-old abortion and thus will be excommunicated. The response? The Vatican “is going back to the days of the Inquisition.”

Dr Stephen Minger, of King’s College London, said: “Having been raised a Catholic I find this stance outrageous. Are they also going to excommunicate IVF doctors, nurses and embryologists who routinely put millions of embryos down the sink [instead of using them for research]? I would argue that it is more ethical to use embryos that are going to be destroyed anyway for the benefit of mankind.”

Minger starts right off with the “raised Catholic therefore I can say any damned fool thing about the Church” fallacy. And he unintentionally steps right on a landmine because, yes indeed, those who engage in IVF may also be subject to the same penalties.

But to assert that we’re going back to the Inquisition is ridiculous. Again, the Church does not have stormtroopers or thought police kicking down the doors of laboratories and hauling off scientists to be burned at the stake. If some scientist wants to kill unborn children for research, then he will do so and unless it’s been made illegal by the state, he will suffer no criminal penalty. But he should have no expectation that the Church will consider him a faithful son of the Church or a good Christian. The Church isn’t going to call evil good just because some scientist somewhere says so.


  • I listened to an audio talk last week titled “Eating Our Children” on embryonic stem cell research by a man, his name was Paul and his last name was something that began with an S.  He addressed compared the statements like that of Dr. Minger to those who experimented on the Jews in WWII. They were tried after the war and used the same excuse of utilitarianism.

  • The point of my post wasn’t clear: the point of it was that there is an excellant talk on it that people should try and get their hands on.  I wish I knew his name.

  • “This amounts to religious persecution of scientists, which has no place in modern liberal societies. Presumably God will be the one to judge the scientists, not Church leaders.”

    Hmmm…this quote comes across showing a high-level of sensitivity. Perhaps a sign of a struggling conscious.