Imagine that a solar eclipse strikes the nation. Under the guidance of its religious leaders, the government immediately starts to round up people to be sacrificed. The idea is that, once enough people have been sacrificed, the gods will be appeased, and the sun will return. They conduct these sacrifices with assembly-line efficiency. People are lined up, prepared for the sacrifice. laid out on the altar, their chests are cut open, their beating hearts removed, the body and the dead organ are removed from the altar, and the line just keeps moving.
The Manhattan Doctrine advocates something very much like this, only far deadlier and never-ending. It would be more like the scenario above if the priests then say, "We can never stop this ritual sacrifice because, the instant we do, God will take away the sun again, this time for good."
So the line keeps moving, in perpetuity.
The death and suffering that the authors of the Manhattan Declaration are calling for, and that they insist the government help them in providing - is the death and suffering brought about by illnesses and injuries that may be treatable using embryonic stem cells or that would come from embryonic stem cell research.
They are not cutting open the chests of living individuals and pulling out their beating hearts. That would be a quick and merciful death compared to what the authors of the Manhattan Declaration require of us. They require a a slow and lingering death, or even that their sacrificial victims continue living with missing limbs, paralysis, an inability to recognize one's surroundings, a body that does not respond to simple commands of movement.
They would fill the whole world with stories of people enduring these effects, and claim that it is all done for the greater good - to appease their god, who would be angry if we took steps to potentially cure or treat these illnesses and injuries.
Keep in mind, the people who lined up the sacrificial victims so as to cut out their beating hearts to appease their gods did not think of themselves as brutal murderers. They thought of themselves as great benefactors to society doing great deeds. However, the fact is that they did not provide society with any benefit. They provided society with death and suffering that rational minds could have avoided.
Today, with issues such as embryonic stem cell research, the magnitude of the death and suffering they inflict on the world for no good reason has increased by orders of magnitude. The ancient human sacrifices were Sunday picnics in comparison to the global sacrifice certain religious leaders today are demanding.
One may argue that we have a duty to respect their beliefs and refrain from raising questions or objections. In fact, the morality requires that we condemn any who should raise questions or objections so such a widespread practice of human sacrifice. It is not 'politically correct' to question another person's religion no matter who or how many they would maim or kill in the practicing of that religion.
Yet, if anybody deserves our concern it is the victims of this human mega-sacrifice, not its perpetrators. Our first order of concern should be with those who end up dead or disabled for life, not with those who would who insist that the death and suffering be allowed to continue indefinitely.
The major charge that one would make against me is that I am begging the question. The advocates of all of this death and destruction are, in fact, preventing murder by sparing the use of innocent lives. Innocent people ought not to be sacrificed even for the achievement of such noble ends as saving lives and preventing illness.
Yet, they are "sparing the use of innocent lives" in the same sense that the religious leaders in my illustrative example are "sparing the sun". In other words, they are not as a matter of fact saving any innocent lives in any morally relevant way, just as the tribe in the illustrative example was not saving the sun. Instead, they have been driven to set of absurd beliefs that have driven them to commit mass murder and great suffering for no good reason whatsoever - for the sake of a wholly imaginary benefit that exists only in the minds of those calling for death and suffering.
As I mentioned yesterday, embryonic stem cells have no desires. This means that they have no interests and they cannot be harmed in any morally relevant way. What we may legitimately do to an embryonic stem cell is no different to what we may do to a skin cell, a fingernail, or a lock of hair. The pretense that these entities have moral worth is a myth. It is a myth that the myth makers say makes it necessary to engage in human sacrifice on a massive scale.
Once those cells are organized into a being that has beliefs and desires, the situation changes. Now they are the objects of desires that we all have many and strong reasons to promote - aversions to killing and to doing harm to another human being, including one who is either permanently or temporarily suffering some mental or physical deficiency. A lump of cells without desires is just that - a lump of cells. It has no reason to act, and it has no reason to promote or inhibit any particular attitudes in us.
Think of this as your best friend sits in a wheel chair as a result of a spinal cord injury, as grandma sits in the hospital unable to recognize the grand children that come to visit her, or the cancer victim suffers the fatal destruction of an organ that cannot be replaced or removed. These are the people that some religious leaders have demanded be offered up as human sacrifice to their God.