Even Robert Edwards cannot outsmart death.

There’s something tremendously, terribly, comfortingly constant about the death of someone like Robert Edwards.

To be sure, I hope he made his peace with the Lord before he went to his personal judgment, but since he was the scientist who pioneered in vitro fertilization, he would have a lot of collateral damage to account for.

According to an article at BioEdge.org, in addition to being a “crusader” for IVF…

Edwards also laid the foundations for the defence of divorcing conception from sex, and biology from love.

Edwards’s “vision” did not stop at solving the mechanics of IVF. He also argued forcefully that science could not be limited by ethics. As he told a journalist for the magazine Living Marxism, Anne Bradley (later Anne Furedi, the head of the UK’s leading private abortion provider) in 1969, “I cannot accept this hyper-emotional stuff that says that some areas are out of bounds and cannot be touched.”

In 2003 he told the London Times: “It was a fantastic achievement, but it was about more than infertility. It was also about issues like stem cells and the ethics of human conception. I wanted to find out exactly who was in charge, whether it was God himself or whether it was scientists in the laboratory.” And what he discovered was that “It was us.

Yes, well about that… The room temperature-ness of his body ought to indicate a more moderated conclusion, no?


Even scientists die.

The chutzpah of scientists who fancy themselves god-like because they can figure out the mechanics of nature.

As though in the discovery of the mechanics they thereby established, or created, those mechanics. Nonsense. Science is nothing more than the discovery of how it all was designed to run and, where appropriate and possible, harnessing the powers and processes discovered for our own purposes.

I brew beer with some friends. One of our mottos is “beer wants to be beer.” By that we mean the ingredients that go into beer have the enzymes and sugars and acids that make beer—all we do is introduce water and heat and combine the ingredients at the right time and the natural process will make beer. Basic beer will just happen, almost naturally. But the process was discovered, human persons, as rational beings, have studied it, tinkered with it in controlled environments, and have refined it over the millennia so that we don’t get “just beer,” but really amazing beer. It’s still just a natural process according to what is in the ingredients already.

Since we are rational beings with morality, part of the process must be determining whether something we are able to do is also something we ought to do. Making beer is a good thing according to the natural processes of the ingredients. On the other hand, I can punch my neighbor in the face for no reason at all. I am able to. But I ought not, so I don’t. Just because someone, including a scientist, is able to do something does not, ipso facto, mean he or she should.

How many of us wish no scientist had ever put forth the work to figure out how to build an atomic bomb even once they realized they probably could?

But the march of technology continues and we devise ever new and more powerful means of communication, transportation, leisure, medicine, construction, and, of course, destruction. None of this puts us ahead of God—He plays a longer game with an overarching and irresistible set of rules.

In the end science stays on this side of grave and while it can delay death, it cannot keep death at bay forever. Each and every one of us will have to pass through death to the hereafter and make an account for what we did in this life. We’ll have naught but our record of love, service, and responsible use of the powers and abilities and gifts given.

That is when we will realize, if we stubbornly refused to accept it in this life, “God is God, and I am not God.”

I hope in the end Robert Edwards realized that fundamental truth, if only for a moment on his death bed, and he accepted it.


Categories:Breaking News Culture Health Care

  • MLF

    I can honestly say that I have never wished ‘no scientist had ever put forth the work to figure out how to build an atomic bomb even once they realized they probably could’.

    My father and numerous other Americans might well not have lived to father their children had the bomb not been built. In fact, it could be that the United States would no longer exist, or at least not as we have known it, without the assured mutual destruction provided by the Cold War – as opposed to the hot war that the Soviets proved themselves willing to pursue.

    I wish there had never been reason to bring the bomb to fruition, but given that there was I, and in my personal experience with members of that generation, and most of the ‘greatest generation’ of Americans share a similar outlook.
    On my iPod in the car I have Nena’s ’99 Luftballoons’ for my children. Most times that I hear it I am reminded of the naivete of the left back then…and now.

  • Antonio A. Badilla

    Tom, what about Margaret Sanger? I would be surprised if she is in Purgatory but the damage the woman did is still being felt today!

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      Antonio— The only “rulings” we make is to affirm that certain persons are most definitely in heaven—those whom we canonize to hold up for veneration and example. Beyond that, we make no definitive statements about who else is in heaven, who is in Purgatory, or who is in hell. Rather, clinging to the virtue of Hope and God’s unfathomable mercy, we hope that all make a sufficient act of contrition before death so that they might avoid hell. We hope this for ourselves individually, so we should hope for it for all persons. I know I do. Imagine the power of the prayers of Margaret Sanger if she realized the horror of her eugenicist ways, cast herself upon the mercy of God, and is now basking in the glory of His mercy, knowing full well just how dependent she is and was upon it and how great it is—moreso than those who had not sinned so grievously. Her prayers of intercession would be especially poignant because of her knowledge of the great pain her former positions caused.

      • MLF

        True, but I do remember thinking after Teddy Kennedy’s death that if there is justice I will not see him queued up in front of me in any line to get into heaven once I’m under the dirt ;p



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