One Life Over Another

I’d like to hear opinions please.

I don’t understand how GWB can state in his argument against stem cell research that (paraphrase)“one can’t put the life of one human over the life of another”, then argue his case for sending additional human resources to Iraq. Isn’t this putting one life (Iraqi citizen’s) life over another (soldier’s).

I am admittedly NOT a great debater. I’ve only posted once in this forum (my first day) and was jumped by so many people I was afraid to come back for quite a while.

If this is a ridiculous question, please just ignore it - please don’t pile on.

I guess it’s a difference in intent. The US soldier will try to minimize civilian casualties; sure, there will be some, but that’s inevitable but should be reduced as far as possible. Whereas embryonic stem-cell research requires willful destruction of lives. It’s a fine line, certainly.

I think the argument could be made that when an embryo is destroyed, a “life” is destroyed without consent. The embryo, as a future human, cannot consent to being killed, and therefore is entitled to continued existence.

Our military, being voluntary, consists only of people who have made an informed choice to go into a situation where they may be killed. Therefore, soldiers have given their consent to be killed should things work out that way.

Welcome back, jali. We’re not all mean here!

If we take Bush at his word, I think he’d point out that American soldiers aren’t sent to die, they’re sent to fight for Iraqis. Since Iraqis and American soldiers are both risking their lives against an injustice, sending more troops doesn’t mean that Americans are worth less than Iraqis, it means that Americans and Iraqis must share the risks equally. At least, that’s probably the thrust of the idea.

But seriously, you’re hitting upon the problem with the state of political discourse today: everything is broken down to facile soundbites. Think about the abortion issue: those against abortion are called pro-life, but that doesn’t mean that if you’re pro-life you have to be against the death penalty. Nor does pro-choice mean that you have to be in favor of legalizing drugs.

It is very tempting to apply a particular soundbite to different issues, but I don’t think it does justice to someone’s considered opinions, even if I reject those opinions as being absolutely wrong. Taking a soundbite and (mis)applying it to some other issue is basically constructing a straw man: someone is underhandedly defining someone else’s position simply in order to knock it down.

The context is different. You have to start with Bush’s premise-- that an embryo is a person. From there, just think how you’d feel about someone making the claim that we should kill person X so that persons A, B, C, and D (all who will die without organ transplants) can live. If you don’t accept that premise that an embryo is a person, then it doesn’t work.

The other problem is that stem cell research is just that-- research. We don’t even know if we can derive any useful therapies. And although it’s quite possible we will be able to do so, we can’t say how long it will take or how many embryos will need to be “sacrificed” before we get results.

He would also argue that there are other techniques to generate stem cells that don’t involve killing embryos, and that we should use those instead.

As for civilian casualties in war, well you try to minimize that and never intentionally kill innocent civilians. That’s next to impossible, though, and I think most of accept that as something that we have to live with if the war is worthwhile.

n.b.: I disagree with Bush on embryonic stem cell research and the Iraq War, and am only trying to explain his position, not justify it. I have different premises than he does, and so I come to different conclusions.

I hope you have a more pleasant experience this time!

There is nothing rational about religious arguments.

And in general, religion aside, society trades lives all the time.
We send firemen into burning buildings, often to their death, to look for people who may or may not be there.
We do a safety retrofit on a major bridge, knowing full well that some steel workers will probably die in the construction.
We innoculate all the old people for flue, knowing that some percentage will die as a result.

The same way he can believe life is precious but allow 150 executions to take place in Texas while governor, or claim that Jesus “Love those that hate you”“Turn the other cheek” Christ is his favorite “political philosopher” but then proceed to start an unnecessary war that kills 10,000s of Iraqi civilians, or lament (today) Gonzales being the victim of political attacks when he came under fire for political attacks against judges who weren’t Bushy enough, or… to quote the White Queen from Alice in Wonderland, when told one can’t believe impossible things,

Once you get rid of any scruples, consistency, or actual religious conviction that’s deeper than a bumper sticker, the rest is pretty easy really.


I find myself in amazing company and I sincerely appreciate the responses. Thank you all.