By Dean Burnett | 4 February 2015
The Catholic Church and Church of England have recently been urging MPs to vote against the introduction of mitochondrial donation, a potentially life-saving procedure with little to no evidence of any serious risks. However, despite many years of study and several regulations, the aforementioned churches have surprisingly decided to intervene and urge MPs to vote against approving the procedure.
This has lead to much criticism, especially from scientists. However, following the eventual failure of these efforts, one group of emboldened scientists has decided to go further and pledge to respond in kind by interfering as much as possible with religious matters.
The Federation for Furthering Science (FFS) has promised to intervene with any and all religious issues it can find that could benefit from some “scientific perspective”.
Dr Hugh Briss, spokesperson for FFS, explained the motivation for this policy.
“While they’re often at each other’s throats in other countries like the US, in the UK religion and science have mostly maintained an uneasy peace, largely by both ignoring whatever the other is doing (with some notable exceptions).
“But this interjection in approving a procedure that’s been extensively studied and refined by world-leading experts over several years on very questionable grounds? Well, that’s what we call a “bad precedent”. So if representatives of the churches are allowed to do that, then logically we as representatives of science are allowed to do the same? Or is that “persecution”?
Some of the objections raised by the Church have come under particular scrutiny from FFS, such as the accusation that mitochondrial donation will result in “three-parent families”.
“Even if that was true, which is isn’t, at no point has it ever been explained why this is an especially bad thing,” Dr Briss pointed out. “Seriously though; why is a three-parent family such a negative? Is it in the Bible? Wasn’t Jesus himself the result of a three-parent family? Or did I get the wrong idea there? I don’t see how you can tell people that two parents is the only thing permissible while insisting they call God “our father”, but maybe it’s just me”.
Another objection raised by the Church of England is that there is not 100% scientific certainty that the procedure will work and is safe. Another member of FFS, Dr Black (first name Potkettle) says she looked forward to applying these same stringent requirements to the policies and practices of the church.
“I’ve already produced a new version of the Bible that leaves out anything that can’t be 100% confirmed by science. It’s much more streamlined now, which is handy as you can fit it all on a postcard and mail it to people, rather than going door-to-door”.
Other areas that the Church can expect to be challenged on include anything to do with sexual health, same sex marriage, gender equality or other medical procedures. FFS hopes that, rather than antagonise, this new mutual interjections into each other’s business will lead to greater understanding and collaboration between science and religion.
“There’s a lot of potentially interesting things the church could show us” Dr Briss admitted. “Apparently they do this thing on Sundays where they transform bread into actual human tissue. Such a procedure in the hands of science would be a huge boon to research into transplants and grafts and the like. I’ve no idea what they’re using it for at present, but I guess it’s their business, as long as they’re not eating it or anything”.
Dr Black also hopes that this mutual interference will lead to greater equality and balance between science and religion insofar as matters of state and governance are concerned.
“The Church has a number of representatives in the House of Lords as a matter of course, surely science can have some too? Doesn’t have to be many, just a few, maybe some established figures from the more prominent research groups or universities? They’re used to making sweeping decisions that affect thousands of people then eating big lunches, so it won’t make difference”.
FFS stress that they do not wish to create division between religious people and scientists, given how many scientists are religious and many religious people have no issue with science. Dr Black was keen to emphasise those similarities between scientific and religious types.
“Many Christians believe that God is some bearded man with unfathomable dominance over everything, who can change lives on a whim and expects only unquestioning subservience. Well, that sounds just like the professor who supervised my PhD”.
Dr Black was then informed that some people actually view God as a vengeful, wrathful figure who will not tolerate disobedience or criticism and insists on destruction of any potential rivals, to which she replied “Yes, that’s my professor. You’ve met him, have you?”
FFS then went on to reassure any people alarmed by their intentions that none of them are likely to occur because FFS is entirely fictional, so don’t actually exist. “Not that that’s ever made much difference in this context,” Dr Briss admitted.
Professor Lord Robert Winston: Three parent babies: Mitochondrial donation explained
Professor Arthur Caplan: Three-parent babies could cure diseases
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