Shinya Yamanaka on Embryonic Stem Cells

Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka was recently featured in a piece in the New York Times,

“Risk Taking Is in His Genes”.

Dr. Yamanaka does research on stem cells and according to the piece,

Last month, his was one of two groups of researchers that independently announced they had successfully turned adult skin cells into the equivalent of human embryonic stem cells without using an actual embryo.

I don’t believe the good doctor can be accused of being an ignorant rube, yet one of his remarks from the story reveals a viewpoint often attributed to folks who are portrayed as such or as religious zealots with nothing better to do than to stifle so-called scientific progress by opposing embryonic stem cell research.

Here is what Yamanaka said,

“When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters,” said Dr. Yamanaka, 45, a father of two and now a professor at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences at Kyoto University. “I thought, we can’t keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way.”

Most interesting…

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Francis Collins Makes UVA Graduates Squirm

About a month or so ago I was at Barnes & Noble and perused through a copy of Dr. Francis Collins’ book, “The Language of God”.

The good doctor is not only a world-class scientist but a devout Christian who sees no conflict between science and the Christian faith. I’ve blogged about him here.

While I still disagree with his take that Genesis 1 and 2 is not to be taken literally, his Biologos model deserves examination if anything because of his excellence as a scientist.

He covers it in the book, which is where I first ran across the model. I hope to write a couple of posts about Biologos in the near future, based on a couple of interviews Dr. Collins gave.

For now I want to quote something he said in a commencement speech at the University of Virginia back in 2001,

Decision number two: Well, this is the one that makes people squirm. What are you going to do about faith? Uh oh, not that one. But can there be any more important questions than these: How did we all get here? What is the meaning of life? How is it that we know deep-down inside what is right and wrong and yet rarely succeed in doing what is right for more than about thirty minutes? What happens to us after we die?

Thoughts?

Answers in Genesis chimes in on James Watson’s Comments

Paul Taylor from AiG wrote an article, DNA Pioneer in Evolutionary Racism Storm, addressing Dr. Watson’s ill-conceived comments.

Taylor writes,

At Answers in Genesis (both U.K. and U.S. sister offices) we profoundly disagree with Watson’s views on the origin of the so-called “races.” We concede that most evolutionists would share Rose’s non-racist views and that most evolutionists would be equally shocked by Watson. Nevertheless, it is only fair to point out that Watson is actually being more consistent with evolutionary theory than Rose. As soon as one believes that human beings have evolved from creatures of lesser intelligence, it is an easy corollary to assume that some people groups are more evolved than others. Watson repeated these views in the same newspaper (The Independent) on October 19, 2007, while protesting that this was not a comment on the “inferiority or superiority” of any people group. Yet we contend that a comment on the supposed intelligence levels of different people groups is clearly a value judgment.(emphasis mine)

Is Taylor right in saying that Watson is “actually being more consistent with evolutionary theory” than evolutionists who correctly denounce Watson’s comments?

I like Taylor’s closing sentence,

Contrary to the belief of evolutionists, there is actually only one race—Adam’s race. And Adam’s race includes “black” people, “white” people—all human beings everywhere.

Dr. James Watson Makes Regrettable Comments

Dr. James Watson, who along with Francis Crick, “discovered” the double helical structure of DNA, with a little help from one of their friends, X-Ray Crystallographer Rosalind Franklin.

Watson and Crick won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their groundbreaking work as well as worldwide acclaim.

Dr. Watson was to speak to an audience at the Science Museum, but his speech was canceled due to some ill-advised comments he made.

According to this story,

DNA pioneer Dr Watson, who discovered the double helix with Briton Francis Crick, has been roundly condemned for saying he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”.

Also,

Dr. Watson was also quoted as saying that while he hoped all races were equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.”

He also added,

there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of people geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically.

Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so

Then of course, a statement to avoid the inevitable conclusion of his statements,

However, he said people should not discriminate racially, because “there are many people of colour who are very talented.”

These statements seem to be a racist’s dreams come true. One can almost see a collective “I told you so” from white supremacist groups.

I wonder if Watson realizes the import of what he allegedly said, and if he’s going to get Carleton Coon(ed) for said comments.  Probably not since Watson’s words will probably be dismissed as the ramblings of an old man.

Watson has also made other brow raising comments, according to this story,

In 1997, he told a British newspaper that a woman should have the right to abort her unborn child if tests could determine it would be a homosexual.

Wonder what Joel Ginsberg would say to that?