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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Quotes: cloning, cosmology, art and physics

When it comes to embryo research, we confront the tension between familial love and neighborly love, between our hunger to save those we know best and our obligation to protect those we can barely see. When it comes to the new reproductive technologies, we confront the tension between the love that makes parents hunger for “better children” and the love that welcomes children as they are, however “imperfect.” Not surprisingly, we do not always speak of love by name in the public square. We talk about rights and equality and compassion. But it is love, in the deepest sense, that we are really debating.
And real love requires confronting hard truths, which many biotech enthusiasts seem unwilling to do. - "Rival Immortalities," by Eric Cohen, review of Human Dignity in the Biotech Century: A Christian Vision for Public Policy, edited by Charles Colson and Nigel M. de S. Cameron. First Things, January 2005, pp. 38-41. Not that it matters, but Cohen states that he is not a Christian.

If all these factors could be controlled adequately in a cloning experiment and the clones still had distinct personalities, then it would be even more reasonable to suspect that a non-physical mind exists. Mike LaBossiere, "Cloning and immaterial minds," The Philosopher's Magazine

Some cosmologists are convinced that the total volume of the universe must be finite, others that it must be infinite--in both cases without a shred of physical evidence. Usually these beliefs stem from a feeling that the structure of the universe should be describable in a neat compact form.
Once again I can only say, "How depressing." Albert Einstein said, "The Lord God is subtle but He is not malicious." I like to turn this around by saying, "The Lord God is not malicious, but He is subtle." Bruce DeWitt, "God's Rays," Physics Today, Jan 2005, pp. 32-34. Quote is from p. 33.

The eminent English physicist Sir Arthur Eddington once remarked that the difference between art and physics is that art makes the commonplace unusual whereas physics makes the unusual commonplace. Morton Tavel, Contemporary Physics and the Limits of Knowledge. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002. p. 1.

When artists view the world, they magnify and even glorify the subjective aspects of their point of view. That is the sense in which they make the commonplace unusual. Physicists, on the other hand, try to eliminate the subjective as much as possible. Physical description depends on things that we all agree upon and attempts to eliminate (or carefully control) individual perspectives intruding on our descriptions of nature. Morton Tavel, Contemporary Physics and the Limits of Knowledge. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002. p. 6.

C. S. Lewis had some important thoughts on how technology controls other humans, in The Abolition of Man. Bonnie, in Off the top, is doing a series on the book.

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