Sunday, October 27, 2013



Some contend that experimentation with embryonic stem cells violates the commandment prohibiting killing since the embryo destined to be an adult human being is destroyed in the process.  There is some support from evolutionary theory that it is also bad or wasteful science.  Experience in stem cell research also shows that embryonic stem cells have only the slimmest of chances of effecting cures whereas adult stem cells have produced a considerable number of successes.

The evolutionary process whereby organisms were produced involved many developmental steps prior to the adult stem cell production.  Those steps may have been modified in different ways in different species over time.  The same thing may be said for the process of producing the adult organ from the adult stem cell.  But the adult stem cell is programmed to do the right thing in the right place.  The embryonic stem cell is programmed to do everything, but it has been difficult to limit its development to just the job of one type of adult stem cells.  As a result, embryonic stem cell research for cures has mostly resulted in failures, many of which involved induction of tumors or cancers.  The failure is presumably due to the inability to turn off the potential of the embryonic cells in all directions but the desired one.

There is optimism in the recent discovery of methods to produce the equivalent of adult stem cells from some adult cells.  This can be potentially the best stem cell research line for the following reason.  The stem cells produced from this method could come from the individual needing treatment and as a result be free from the danger of rejection of non-compatible donor cells.

For the non-religious or those who have no objections on moral grounds, embryonic stem cell research should not be promoted or receive tax dollars because it is money wasted.  The value all research has for training new scientists and development methods is not unique to embryonic stem cell research and can as readily be had by doing adult stem cell research.

Joseph G. Engemann     October 27, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013



Natural law is a foundation for the morality of some people, probably both those that are atheists and those that are deeply religious.  For those that are religious and believe that God created the world and is the author of natural law it would seem that they would find evolution an aide if they realized God is the author of evolution.

I recently started thinking about this topic when a friend of my wife was discussing with her the relative contributions of men versus women to genetic flaws found in offspring.  The friend thought women get blamed for the preponderance of genetic flaws such as trisomy 21 which occurs with a higher frequency when the mother is older.  I wasn't too quick to point out that males always pass on flaws of their X-chromosome to their daughters and of their Y-chromosome to their sons.

Of course, mitochondria are another matter since they are only passed on through the mother's egg.  So pick an energetic mother and don't worry about having a lethargic father if you want to have plenty of energy.  But it is not that simple.

From an evolutionary standpoint, in vitro fertilization is a terrible mistake.  Old-fashioned sex is the best way we have to deliver healthy sperm to an egg.  Aging and/or defective sperm may not have the energy to reach the egg and be the first to donate their chromosomes to the egg.  How important that is can be demonstrated by the higher percentage of males conceived.  Carrying a large X-chromosome must slow them somewhat compared to carrying a small Y-chromosome.  Not all deleterious genes will be expressed in egg or sperm but those that are can perhaps be selected out by the competition of sperm to reach and fertilize the egg.  The sperm also have to have some teamwork by helping to disperse some of the cells surrounding the egg so one can fertilize the egg and immediately cause the fertilization membrane to form and prevent other sperm from entering.  It makes it seem like males participate in team sports from day 1.

So it would seem that the fertility clinics may be unwittingly defeating the natural selection that helps maintain the fertility of the human population.

Who wins the battle of the sexes in a genetic sense?  I have no idea, it seems pretty even to me.  But sex-linked recessive genes behave as dominate genes when in a male.  For that reason red-green color deficiency in vision is many times more common in men than in women.

Joe Engemann     October 22, 2013