Major breakthrough in adult stem-cell research

There are two kinds of stem-cell research. The first kind is called embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR). This kind is opposed by pro-lifers because it kills unborn persons by extracting their stem cells for use in medical research. The second kind is called adult stem-cell research (ASCR). This kind is supported by pro-lifers.

You may be surprised to know that ESCR doesn’t work as nearly as well as ASCR. Despite all the advocacy from left-wing Hollywood actors, ESCR has not helped a single patient. But ASCR in being used for 73 different kinds of therapies. According to the Family Research Council:

…adult stem cell research had an impressive track record as of 2006-over 1100 FDA approved clinical trials in the United States for 72 different illnesses and disabilities. 2007 has seen further advances in adult stem cell research and therapy. Currently, peer-reviewed studies have documented 73 different conditions in humans where patient health has been improved through adult stem cell therapy, and over 1400 FDA approved trials are ongoing.

Adult stem cells are found throughout the human body from birth onward, in placentas, and in umbilical cord blood. Unlike embryonic stem cell research, no embryos are destroyed in retrieving them.

…There have been no successful treatment trials in human beings using embryonic stem cells.

But there were still a couple of problems with ASCR as Telic Thoughts explains here:

In 2007 scientists found a way to induce pluripotency in adult somatic cells. There were just two problems. First, it was a slow process. Second, the cells were modified via a virus delivery system which increased the risk of cancerous mutation in the future.

Cancerous mutation? That sounds bad. But wait:

Yesterday the second problem was solved as it was announced that scientists had found a way to induce pluripotency similar to that of embryonic stem cells without the use of viral delivery systems.

And their post closes with this:

Last week the Obama administration promised to move soon to repeal the funding ban on embryonic stem cell research. It will be interesting to see if this monumental scientific breakthrough will alter Obama’s course of action.

That won’t happen. For more information about why pro-lifers oppose ESCR and support ASCR, here is a series of 3 Townhall.com articles written by Greg Koukl, (first, second, third). Greg is the founder of Stand to Reason, an apologetics ministry with a heavy emphasis on bioethics.

UPDATE: Video of Michele Bachmann opposing ESCR funding.

Democrat stock-picker Jim Cramer angry with Obama’s socialism

See this awesome post over at Nice Deb. She’s got the videos up showing democrat Jim Cramer complaining about the economic free-fall caused by Obama’s policies.

There are a lot of people in this country who do not know anything about economics, but they’ve been buying stocks based on hype generated by Obama-supporting Wall Street types.These gamblers (not investors) have not read Hayek or Sowell or Friedman. But they hope that Obama’s socialist policies will make the stock market go up.

According to Business Week, Cramer is a life-long Democrat. According to this article, he contributes to Democrats. I think it is interesting to note that it’s probably Democrats who are taking the most damage from the market right now, because they believe in Obammunism – they think that the market will rise as we go socialist.

Check out this video of Cramer being bullish on the Dow when it was around 14000 in the teeth of abysmal fundamentals, and then later denying that he was bullish.

And now Cramer is surprised that the party he supported is wrecking the economy. I hope he loses piles of money, and I hope everyone who voted for Obama loses everything. EVERYTHING.

Remember, Democrats caused this mess by forcing banks to make loans in order to achieve social justice for the benefit of other irresponsible Democrats who signed legal contracts with banks to purchase more house than they could afford. Many of these banks were being run by Democrats who got million-dollar bonuses while fudging the accounting and paying off Democrat lawmakers to block efforts by Bush to regulate them. Now the Democrat bankers are working for Obama.

The Democrats are voting in wasteful spending bill after wasteful spending bill, and none of this spending will help the economy one iota. And it’s not just socialist tax policy, it’s protectionist trade policy, too. And no matter how much Obama raises taxes on the productive class, we cannot afford to pay for this spending.

Democrats in general seem to believe that their socialism will make the economy grow faster. The falling stock market must be a real wake-up call to their ignorant faith in an ideology of feelings and intentions.

The fact that Obama’s policies are likely to cause inflation and/or stagflation means that the rest of us responsible people who have to pay for this crap will have the additional comfort of knowing that every dollar we saved after our hard work will be devalued when he has to print money to pay for his wasteful spending.

Report on Plantinga-Dennett debate

Free Mark Steyn linked to eight of my posts today, so I went over there to see what else he found. Canadian writer Deborah Gyapong linked to a debate play-by-play between Alvin Plantinga and Daniel Dennett.

First off, the audio of the debate is here.

Here is an excerpt from the play-by-play, which has drawn over 100 comments so far:

The debate was between Alvin Plantinga and Daniel Dennett. Plantinga is one of the founders of the Society of Christian Philosophers and one of the fathers of the current desecularization of philosophy. He is widely regarded – even by his critics – as one of the finest epistemologists of the last fifty years and one of the finest philosophers of religion since the Medieval period. Daniel Dennett is one of the New Atheists and is a well-known proponent of atheistic Darwinism and critic of religion. He is widely regarded – even by his critics – as one of the most important early philosophers of mind that opened the field to cognitive science and evolutionary biology. He has contributed enormously to the serious study of the mind and its relationship to the brain. Both philosophers are over sixty and perhaps at the height of their philosophical powers. They have also faced off before but, as far as I know, not in person.

It looks like Plantinga presented on his argument that rationality is incompatible with naturalism and evolution. I actually heard him present this paper live, and the phrase “the probability of R on N and E” is seared into my memory. Here is another excerpt:

Plantinga was the presenter. The session asked the question of whether science and religion were compatible. Plantinga argues that they are and that in fact the scientific theory taken to be most incompatible with religion – evolutionary theory – is not only compatible with Christian theism (the religious view Plantinga defends) but is incompatible with Christian theism’s most serious opponent in the scientific world – naturalism. Naturalism is the view that physics and the sciences can give a complete description of reality. Plantinga defines it as the view that there is no God or anything like God.

Here’s the conclusion of the play-by-play:

On another note, I walked around and listened to various conversations (not eavesdropping really, just listening for loud reactions to the session). The Christian philosophers were particularly interesting. They were not upset, surprised or even moved. They were wholly unphased. They were so unphased that they weren’t even discussing the session. I was floored at Dennett’s behavior but they reacted as if Dennett’s hateful, childish behavior was to be expected. I thought they would be upset, but from what I can tell they simply expected Dennett to compare theistic belief to holocaust denial and to advocate murdering the Almighty. I guess I was wrong to expect more from him.

In my estimation, Plantinga won hands down because Dennett savagely mocked Plantinga rather than taking him seriously. Plantinga focused on the argument, and Dennett engaged in ridicule. It is safe to say that Dennett only made himself look bad along with those few nasty naturalists that were snickering at Plantinga. The Christians engaged in no analogous behavior. More engagements like this will only expand the ranks of Christian philosophers and increase the pace of academic philosophy’s desecularization.

If you guys are into debates, I highly recommend William Lane Craig debates here. Plantinga doesn’t debate much, but there is this book-debate he did recently, that I haven’t checked out yet. Dennett debated twice before that I know of, first, against that wimpy microbiologist Alister McGrath as part of the Greer-Heard series here, and against Dinesh D’Souza here.

Round-up of US media interviews with Stephen Harper

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

I spotted this round-up of media interviews with Stephen Harper on the Canadian blog Blue Like You. I’ve already blogged about the CNBC interview with optimistic Larry Kudlow here. That interview focused on economic policy.

In the Fox Business interview with Alexis Glick, (video here), she explains how Canada was able to avoid the subprime lending crisis.

Immediately after I talked to the vice chairman of the Swedish central bank, I interviewed — in a “First on Fox Business” — Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper about a lot of things: Everything from his meeting with President Obama last week, to NAFTA to the “Buy American” clause in the stimulus to carbon emissions and the Canadian Sands to the banking system. Why has Canada’s banking system withstood the financial crisis while other countries banking systems like the U.S. are in such dire straits? In 2008, the World Economic Forum ranked Canada’s banking system the healthiest in the world. The U.S. was ranked 40th. Canada’s system has much stronger federal regulations and lower mandatory leverage ratios. Canada’s firms never engaged in subprime mortgage lending. For over a decade, Canada has posted budget surpluses; only in the last quarter did they enter into a recession. What is working? What lessons could we learn from them? Take a look. Prime Minister Harper is very impressive.

Canada does not believe in forcing banks to make loans based on ACORN’s vision of social justice. I explained how Democrats like Carter and Clinton forced banks to make these loans and how Republicans tried in vain to stop them, here.

The Wall Street Journal interview was more focused on foreign policy. You may have heard of Harper’s recent free trade deal with Peru. But did you know that Canada also signed a free trade deal with Colombia?

But the mention of Canadian and American political opposition to free-trade agreements with Colombia has sparked a change in the PM’s unflappable manner. For a fleeting moment, what sounds a lot like frustration emerges. “I’m not going to say it’s a perfect government, but we have a government in Colombia that is democratically elected, that has increased democratic norms, that has taken on the insurgency, that is moving that country forward economically and politically. And it is in a hemisphere where we have an increasing number of real serious enemies and opponents.”

Meanwhile, the economically-illiterate, protectionist ACORN lawyer rejected a free trade deal with Colombia.

And did know that Canada has been taking a leading role in foreign policy?

Since establishing a minority government in January 2006, this prime minister and his Conservative Party have restored Canada’s international prestige by increasing military funding and tenaciously supporting Canada’s dangerous NATO mission in the Afghan province of Kandahar. No NATO ally has put more on the line against the Taliban, and Mr. Harper seems to sense not just the opportunity but the need for Canada to capitalize on it. There is a vacuum in conservative leadership in North America and on the world stage, and Mr. Harper is stepping into it. His objective would appear to be the restoration of liberal-democratic resolve against tyranny.

You want Reaganesque? I’ll give you Reaganesque:

An unreliable NATO has implications for Canada not least because Russia is once again becoming a menace. The Kremlin’s claim to the Arctic seabed can be discounted, he argues, because it is being pursued through the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty. But other provocations are worrisome. “They are testing our airspace more frequently than they have been doing in a long, long time,” he says. “It’s the aggression in the Arctic, aggression more generally, an aggression that is increasingly troublesome just to be troublesome.”

Check this out: 2 CF-18 fighters intercepted a Russian bomber that was snooping near Canadian airspace just last week. Look, if Obambi wants to focus on increasing welfare and nationalizing health care, then maybe Canadians will have to pick up the slacker’s slack.

I rarely say this, but I am going to say it for this WSJ interview: READ. THE. WHOLE. THING.

UPDATE: Welcome, Canadian visitors from Blue Like You! Thanks for the link Joanne! I’ve just blogrolled you! I am hoping Stephen Harper gets his majority soon, so he can get rid of those pesky HRCs that keep going after Ezra Levant.

UPDATE 2: I noticed in the comments on Blue Like You that they referenced this interview from CNN with Wolf Blitzer. Here is the video and a news article from the National Post. Ooops. I think the commenter Allison meant a more recent CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria which is here.

UPDATE 3: Welcome visitors from Post-Darwinist! Thanks for linking to me,  Denyse!

Full report from William Lane Craig’s Quebec debating tour

I received William Lane Craig’s report from his Ontario and Quebec speaking tours in my e-mail inbox. The report is not yet posted on his web site, so I reproduce the portion related to his debate at McGill against Shabir Ally below. (I wanted to post everything, but it was too much)

Here’s what Bill says about debating Shabir at McGill University in Montreal:

The next evening was my debate at the English-speaking McGill University with the Muslim apologist Shabir Ally on “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” I began by presenting a case for Jesus’ resurrection, and Shabir then followed. Shabir is a very slick customer, a skilled debater and smooth speaker. Whereas my debating style tends to be pretty formal, ticking off one point after another, Shabir began his opening speech by telling a joke, which got the audience laughing, and even presenting to me a small souvenir gift from Montréal. I thought to myself, “Boy, I’m already ten points behind just on audience rapport!” But my experience is that these first impressions fade pretty quickly as the debate unfolds.

So I figured I should just carry out my plan to attack his view hard, while continuing to be gracious personally. Shabir defends a very strange view of what happened to Jesus. He holds that Jesus was crucified (despite the Qur’an’s denial of that fact) but that he was only apparently dead when he was taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb. Before he could die in the tomb, God assumed him into heaven and thereafter gave visions of Jesus to the disciples. In that way, Shabir is able to affirm the historicity of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, empty tomb, post-mortem appearances, and the disciples’ belief in his resurrection, but all without Jesus’ being raised from the dead!

Unfortunately, to my surprise, Shabir didn’t even mention his theory in his opening speech but just presented a wishy-washy, feel-good talk about Islam and Christianity. “Now what should I do?” I thought. “If I attack his view when he hasn’t even presented it, I’m really going to come across as mean-spirited. But if I wait till the rebuttals, there won’t be enough time to present my critique.” As I said, I decided to go after his view anyway, explaining to the audience that this is his position in his published work.

As a preliminary observation, I pointed out that no true Muslim could embrace his view, since the Qur’an could not be more straightforward or unambiguous: “They did not kill him; they did not crucify him” (4:157). I even quoted the Arabic “wa maa qataluhu, wa maa salabuhu.” I charged that Shabir, in denying the Qur’an, had already deserted Islam for a mishmash of Christianity and Islam, which I dubbed “Chrislam.” I said that if you’re going to embrace Chrislam, why not go all the way and become a Christian?

I then argued that Shabir should do this because his view faces insuperable historical and theological objections. Historically, it has inadequate explanatory scope (since mere visions of Jesus would not explain the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection), weak explanatory power (since the early Church distinguished visions of Christ from resurrection appearances of Christ), and little plausibility (since it is highly improbable that Jesus was taken down alive).

The theological objections are even more problematic: (1) The theory provides too little, too late. For in virtue of his crucifixion, Jesus has already suffered shame, humiliation, and defeat in the minds of his enemies. (2) By misleading the disciples into thinking that Jesus was risen from the dead, Allah himself is to blame for foisting the religion of Christianity on the world, resulting in hundreds of millions rejecting Islam and going to hell! Shabir had little to say in response to these objections, except to reiterate that there’s no way of knowing that Jesus was really dead.

So in the end the palm of victory went clearly to the Christian side. But sad to say, there were very few Muslims in the audience. I hear through the grapevine that Muslims are increasingly disaffected with Shabir because of his compromises on orthodox Islam. In fact the Muslim Student Association at McGill, which had promised to help promote the debate, called at 4:00 p.m. the very afternoon of the debate to say that they weren’t coming and had decided to schedule a meeting of their own that night! So it appears that the Muslim community is losing confidence in Shabir.

His newsletter contains more about his speaking in Quebec at the University of Montreal and the University of Laval. The newsletter also discusses his debate with Shelly Kagan of Yale University, held at Columbia University. And he concludes with his upcoming speaking engagements. Please pray for Bill and consider supporting him by donating to Reasonable Faith.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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