mad in pursuit journal


Stem Cells and Souls

I'm not sure why stem cell research on frozen embryos is so controversial. In medical research, the end doesn't always justify the means — I get that. But every advance has us staring down the slippery slope, so why not dialogue about the dilemmas? We are always polarized pro and con — but I guess voting makes us do that.

I've been trying to think about frozen embryos from a Pro Life perspective. What if, at the moment of conception, a lively little soul ignites in the blastocyst? Then it is stored away in a freezer. Do souls have consciousness, knowledge of God?

One of the most terrifying movie scenes I remember from childhood is the end of "The Fly" (1958). There have been secret experiments, melodrama, death. But in the last scene, when everyone is finally taking a deep breath, the camera zooms in on a tiny housefly with a human head crying, "Help me. He-e-elp me." A soul trapped in the wrong place.

So why shouldn't we respectfully release the spark of a soul to heaven? If life begins at conception and not at birth, why not baptize the fertilized egg immediately to deal with the issue of original sin and give the soul to direct pass to heaven?

Some anxious believers would rather have the frozen embryos thrown away rather than used for scientific research. But my perspective is this: No one asks to be conceived but with life comes obligation. Like the song says: "Everybody's gotta serve somebody." Making a contribution to the betterment of mankind — doesn't that pull you down some grace?

The shadow of Nazi physician-sadists is always in the background, of course. But we are a sophisticated, open society. Parents establish a merciful path for their offspring. If a child dies unexpectedly, the parents allow an autopsy to advance medical knowledge and can donate the child's organs to help someone else. Tough but ethical decisions are made all the time.

So, if Pope Benedict is reading: hey, give the soul a chance to snag some grace and a path to heavenly citizenship. Let the material remains serve somebody. Don't let Hell be an eternity of frozen nitrogen.


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The Fly (1958)

Gotta Serve Somebody, Bob Dylan (1979)