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Letter to New York Times

Peter Bouteneff

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To the Editor:

You express frustration that the most recent advances in stem cell research have not appeased theological conservatives.

To you, this shows why "the government should avoid making decisions on theological grounds."

You say that the opposition to the new procedure "illustrates the great lengths to which scientists must go these days to shape stem cell research to fit the dictates of religious conservatives who impose their own view of morality on the scientific enterprise."

This sounds as if the "religious conservatives" inherently stand at odds with science and live only to make capricious and unmeetable demands of the rational monolith that is the scientific community.

It would be more accurate and balanced simply to acknowledge that a substantial number of people across boundaries of faith share the honestly held conviction that human life has a critical beginning at fertilization.

These people will naturally feel bound to carry this principle to its practical conclusions when it comes to stem cell use, as well as to abortion and the Plan B pill. It should stop coming as such a surprise when they do.

At any rate, it appears that the recent advance in stem cell research is a huge step in the right direction. Let's all keep working on it together until we get it right. Theology and science need to inform each other.

Peter Bouteneff
Tuckahoe, N.Y., Aug. 28, 2006

Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff is the Assistant Professor of Dogmatic Theology at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. This letter was published in the New York Times, August 28, 2006.

Posted: 05-Sep-06



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