How Powerful is Religion?

Today’s vote on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is going to be an interesting test of the power of religion in 21st century Britain. As far as I can see, there are no reasons to object to the bill that don’t have their basis in Bronze Age myths.

Gordon Brown has been really rather unimpressive since he took over as Prime Minister but I was really impressed by his defence of the Bill in yesterday’s Observer. This is a man who is obviously passion about defending something that he believes in strongly.

Should scientists be given the legal framework they say they need to
pursue new cures and treatments through stem cell research or will we
turn our back on these potential advances?

Should children who
face death or critical illness find new hope in scientific advances
that would allow their new brother or sister to be not just a blessing
to their family, but also a saviour sibling to them? And should people
be able to approach IVF clinics without fear of discrimination on the
grounds of their sexual orientation?

My answer to all those questions is an unequivocal yes.

I believe that he is absolutely right. Stem cell research is a vital tool that enables us to make advances in the way that we treat many diseases. To turn our back on these advances because of how a shaman interprets texts that are hundreds of years old would be irresponsible lunacy.

Religion has had a strong hold on British society for too long. It’s time we said that enough is enough and stood up for a secular society which makes decisions based on rational thought, not on the capricious whims of an imaginary friend. I really hope that parliament sees sense today and votes for rationalism over medieval superstition.

Update: Bid to ban hybrid embryos fails

An MP’s attempt to outlaw the creation of hybrid human-animal embryos has been defeated by 336 votes to 176.

An excellent start. More votes follow over the next couple of days.

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