Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving weekend open thread

I'm not planning on blogging much this weekend, so let's discuss these two news items:

1) Skin Cells converted to Stem Cells - scientists have figured out how to make normal skin cells into stem cells, thus forgoing the need for embryonic stem cells. This seems to be a great win for everyone involved. Is this a victory for social conservatives? Can they rightfully claim that their concerns about human life pushed science in this direction. Is this the direction we should go then for cloning?

2) A new Yale university study showed that babies as young as 6 months old can tell "good" from "bad".
[The scientists] showed 6- and 10- month old babies one character who tried but failed to reach the top of a steep hill. Babies were then shown a second, helpful triangular character, who pushed the climber up the hill, and a third, unhelpful square character, who pushed the climber back to the bottom of the hill.
After the baby viewed the unhelpful and helpful characters aid or prevent the climber from achieving its goal, they were offered a choice between the helper and the hinderer. What is remarkable is that the babies "strongly preferred" the character who had been helpful rather than unhelpful. They seem to know the "good guys" from the bad.

This supports the view that our ability to tell good from bad is universal and unlearned. "We can't say that babies are born with this - just that they have it by six months," she told The Daily Telegraph. "It is present before language and explicit teaching, yes, but perhaps not there exactly from the start."
What does that do for that age of accountability? Does this strengthen the argument for infant baptism? Is it possible to recognize sin, but not be part of it? Does this research help support Christian claims about an innate moral compass?

Discuss in the margins...