Kevin Drum joins Robert Reich's religious war.
But Saletan goes further than this:In condemning the kettle's color, Drum fails to see his own blackness. Drum is not interested in science, he is interested in ideology, too. You may recall that in the December 2003 issue of The American Prospect, Robert Reich proclaimed that "abortion and stem-cell research are about religious liberty". Drum suggests that they are instead about "science" and "reason", but this is not the "reason" from your Intro to Philosophy class. It is the god Reason around which the French Jacobins established their own religious cult and which they enthroned in the Notre-Dame-de-Paris as a flame.The stem-cell movement has become ideological. One scientist who is organizing his colleagues for Kerry told the Post that stem-cell research has become an "icon" for broader complaints about Bush's policies. He added that his group has adopted "ideology trumps science" as its theme.What Saletan doesn't get is that this is exactly right. Forget the details about whether stem cell therapy is good for Alzheimers, or whether embryonic stem cells are better or worse than adult stem cells. None of that is what really matters.
What really matters is that all of these details ought to be left up to scientists, not to administration ideologues. Let scientists decide what to investigate and when. If they go down a blind alley, funding will dry up and they'll go somewhere else. That's how science works.
It is truly bizarre that Drum thinks those who believe that human life begins at conception are "nihilistic" since it is precisely nihilism that denies the value of what Is. Following his forebears, Drum rejects any material limitations on human freedom, and laments those from which Science and Reason have not yet freed us, such as the unavoidable material foundation of human life.
Thankfully Drum does admit in the end that this debate is fundamentally a philosophical/theological one, not a scientific one. So why the bitching and whining about the 'debasement of science'?