Of mice and men

I’ve never read the John Steinbeck novel I stole this title from – but in a piece of fact from the “stranger than fiction” category – this story just has me scratching my head.

New research from Brazil is pushing the boundaries on human fertility. I know this is a major issue for infertile couples – but surely there are boundaries to scientific research – or at least there should be.

“Our data indicate that the mouse can yield human sperm cells,” said Irina Kerkis of the Roger Abdelmassih clinic and research centre in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Science, like the arts – who are in the midst of their own “boundaries” debate, is a wonderful tool for helping people understand the world around us – and for making life better and more comfortable.

This advance – like many others – comes at a cost. What do you do with the family tree following the application of this research? Is it a reverse Stuart Little? Only with the mouse not actually talking? Do you keep, and pamper the mouse for as long as you both shall live in recognition of its unique place in the family structure? I don’t know – and they seem like stupid questions to be asking, on the back of some pretty stupid research.

My problem with science – and its approach to tackling undoubtably serious issues like curing diseases, healing the sick and helping the barren conceive – is that it tries to fight of the inevitable and creates false hopes, and false securities. Nature is by its very nature natural. There is a place for the natural order of things, as a Christian I see this place as coming under God’s authority – and that forms the basis of some of my objections. Stem cell research falls in the same moral boat – it’s great for those who want to preserve life (arguably at the expense of others) but this is fundamentally selfish. Why do we seek to preserve life? If overpopulation is a pressing concern – and it seems to be one for the sustainability lobby sector – shouldn’t we subscribe to the James Bond theory of “live and let die.” Seeking to prolong life by whatever means necessary ultimately cheapens life and is a real life example of the drowning man clutching at straws.


Anonymous says:

oh brilliant headline! You could have studied journalism or something! This is a bit of a hardcore blog for your return – i hope to see things getting more light hearted and less ‘meaning of life-ish’ in the future.

Nathan says:

Dear anonymous, the artist also known as middle sister – the first entry was much lighter in nature…

DanielS says:

Science is also about money – particularly medical science.

For all the talk about helping people and giving hope, the treatments all come at a (large) cost. So if they can succeed in making men out of mice you won’t cheaply be getting that seed.

DanielS says:

(Sorry, forgot to conclude – but this way I double your comment count.)

… and that is why Science has no boundaries. The ethical questions asked are rarely ‘is it right’ or ‘is it good’ but rather ‘will it sell’.

Anonymous says:

something i was also thinking about today along the lines of death is that suicide seems to be thought of as anti christian because its God’s job do decide when we die. What if he has just given some of us the courage to take life away with our own hands and that is how he planned for us to die.

Nathan says:

Dear anonymous,

I have no idea where that came from or how it relates to the logic of this post.

I’d pretty much dismiss the idea that God intends some of us to die via suicide based on everything Christians know to be true about God.

Having said that – Christians also believe that God is in control of every life – when it ends and when it begins, including suicides.

Really though – that’s a random response to this topic and I’d suggest if you think you have been enabled with such “courage” you should probably call lifeline or something…

Anonymous says:

it relates. stopping overpopulation. people trying to prevent it when maybe its just nature taking its course in another type of way

Nathan says:

honestly anonymous – there’s no way I can constructively engage with your question without knowing your circumstances – and why you’re asking it.

I think it fails to actually address the point my post was making, namely that death is a reality and people need to accept that it will eventually come even if you DON’T want it to.

It was about people selfishly wanting to outlast nature – not about people selfishly wanting to prematurely end their lives.

I think life is to be valued and upheld – but I also think death is a universal truth and we need to be better at dealing with it.

Seriously though – if you think you’ve been suicidally empowered – call lifeline, or your local church, or send me an email and I’ll put you in touch with someone who can help.

If this is just a stupid question it’s a pretty insensitive one.

Personally I don’t think suicide is a result of courage – generally speaking I’d say it’s quite the opposite – but I also acknowledge that mental illness can be a contributing factor and it manifests itself in a number of ways – perhaps even the belief that God has empowered you to take that step.