Human embryos cloned for 1st time
Massachusetts scientists announced on Sunday that they had conducted the first successful human cloning—successful as in "the operation was a success, but the patient died."

But that doesn't bother them because these scientists were not interested in the clones' survival. They considered these cloned human embryos as a step on the journey toward new medical therapies. Therefore, these were not persons. Therefore, the fact that they didn't survive isn't an ethical problem. "Biologically, scientifically, the entities we're creating are not an individual," said Michael West, president of Advanced Cell Technology. "They're only cellular life. They're not a human life."

People have been wondering about Advanced Cell Technology's ethical sensibilities for some time. Earlier this year, two prominent ethicists resigned from ACT's ethics advisory board because the company was paying for the use of their names, but wasn't seeking their advice.

ACT's impaired ethical sense reflects the disappearance of the Hippocratic vision for medicine. That abandonment of that vision was described by Nigel Cameron in The New Medicine: Life and Death after Hippocrates and in a 1995 Christianity Today editorial. In the inflated rhetoric about therapeutic cloning, ACT's scientists seem to have forgotten Hippocrates' first rule: First, do no harm.

Harm, of course, is exactly what came to the human embryos they tried to clone.

The U.S. Congress is not so sanguine about human cloning, and a bill to ban cloning was on the agenda before the September 11 atrocities. We understand why that bill has been ignored in recent months, but this announcement spur cautious denunciations from both sides of the aisle. Perhaps it will also spur Congress to action. Write your Senator.

Davey and Goliath returns
With Thanksgiving over, television turns to stop-motion animation specials: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Year Without a Santa Claus, The Little Drummer Boy, and the rest of those wonderful Rankin-Bass shows. For many Christians, there's a special warm place in our hearts for another stop-motion show: Davey and Goliath, from the creator of Gumby and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Orlando Sentinel reports that the boy and his talking dog are coming back. "We want to do new Daveys, to bring these moral messages to a new generation of children," ELCA communication director Eric Shafer tells Mark I. Pinsky (who wrote CT's recent cover story on The Simpsons). "That's the purpose of doing it. Davey was always Christian, but his messages went far beyond the Christian community—messages of tolerance, of acceptance, of listening to your parents, against violence. Aren't those messages needed even more today?" But Davey and Goliath's first message won't be tolerance; it'll be "Buy Mountain Dew." The ELCA is licensing the characters for merchandise, toys, and commercials in an effort to raise $3 million to $4 million for a new series. "The big risk is that it comes back as unintentional self parody," says Robert Thompson, founding director of Syracuse University's Study of Popular Television.

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Revival movement "prophet:" American Airlines crash was sabotage
Rick Joyner, pastor of North Carolina's MorningStar Fellowship Church and a controversial "prophet" in the revival and renewal movement, says he knows exactly what happened on American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed in Queens, New York, November 12. "It was not an accident—it was sabotage," he says on his Web site. And he has proof:

Bob Jones dreamed the night before it happened that someone was servicing the hydraulics of a plane and put some kind of explosive liquid in it. He saw them doing this in a reservoir near the engine, and then wiped it off so it would not be discovered. He then saw in this dream something like a piston pushing into a line that caused an explosion, which blew the engine off. Bob knows nothing about aircraft hydraulics, but on every jet engine I have studied in my aviation career, the hydraulic reservoir was on or near the engine. Yes, I did try to call the FBI, but when the agent heard that my information was based on a dream, she understandably did not want to hear anymore.

Talk about self-parody.

(Thanks to for alerting Weblog to this story and the Orlando Sentinel piece.)

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