New Sins for New Times

This week, the Vatican added new mortal sins to the original seven in an era of “unstoppable globalization”. They include the following:
1- Environmental pollution
2- Genetic manipulation
3- Accumulating excessive wealth
4- Inflicting poverty
5- Drug trafficking and consumption
6- Morally debatable experiments
7- Violation of fundamental rights of human nature

The second and sixth ones on that list are clearly aimed at halting embryonic stem cell research, one of the most promising lines of medicinal research ever discovered. The Pope’s pious, morally indefensible theology is prolonging the excruciating suffering of millions of people. In order to end the stem cell argument, according to the Church, if one can debate the moral worth of an experiment, then it is morally wrong. The Church seems to be implicitly acknowledging that arguing that stem cells are potential human beings does nothing but waste breath.

Given the advances of biotechnology, any cell in one’s body with a nucleus is a potential human being. Every time the Pope scratches himself, he has committed a genocide of potential human beings. A blastocyst is a ball of 60-100 cells. For comparison, there are 250,000 cells in the brain of an ant. There is no good reason to think that a blastocyst could suffer its destruction any differently than a red blood cell does. If the Church was really concerned about ameliorating suffering (instead of pushing its version of morality) on this planet, it should worry more about people stepping on ants than the destruction of blastocysts.

The Vatican also recognized (7) “abortion and pedophilia as two of the greatest sins of our times,” according to the BBC. This is ironic coming from an institution that proclaims to believe humans were created by a perfectly-good, all-knowing deity, and that sheltered many child-molesting ministers. Half of conceptions end in natural abortions, many times without mothers even realizing they were pregnant. One in five acknowledged pregnancies end in miscarriage. As Sam Harris said in Letter to a Christian Nation, “If God exists, he is the most prolific abortionist of all.”

It is also ironic that “inflicting poverty” is on the list when, as this is being written, missionaries are preaching the dogma of the sinfulness of birth control and condoms in places that are being decimated by HIV/AIDS. Often, these places have no other access to information on birth control other than the minister.

However, it is reassuring that the Vatican now recognizes the massive harm done to the environment (1) and widening social inequalities (3,4). Obviously, however, claiming that people will be punished for eternity only works on those who already believe their human personality will somehow survive beyond death. Instead of threatening fire and brimstone on hordes of people, perhaps the Church could actually provide some physical aid in the here and now, and stop trying to discourage life-saving practices.

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~ by jsacc001 on March 13, 2008.

One Response to “New Sins for New Times”

  1. My friend recently pointed out that the “morally debatable experiment” sin would eliminate any and all scientific experimentation because one actually could debate the morality of any experiment because of the knowledge it could give to humanity.

    The Church is also guilty of the seventh one on the list. Its indoctrination process is commonly started soon after birth with baptism. The child starts the brainwashing into religion, obviously, without her informed consent. If this is not a violation of human rights in the Church’s view, then it arguably does not have a good moral compass.

    The “accumulation of excessive wealth” is also one I think the Church is guilty of what with all the donations it gets every Sunday. This is the same institution that owns that owns the Sistine Chapel, and many lands and properties around the world. The pope also wears Dolce & Gabbana, and other luxuries from other expensive clothing companies. The Church is one of the richest organizations in the world.

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