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.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author

Tom Crowe is a cradle Catholic with a deep love for and commitment to Holy Mother the Church, colored by a rather interesting life-long relationship with her. Born during the great liturgical upheaval of the 1970s, Crowe was brought up in a parish that continued using the Missal of 1962—the Traditional Latin Mass—for which he developed a love. Crowe learned the faith as a child from the Baltimore Catechism, and didn’t stop learning and wrestling with the Church’s teachings at his Confirmation. Through reading and many conversations with friends and converts far smarter than he, Crowe came to know, accept, and love the Church and what she proposes far more intimately. For three years these conversation took place in seminary before Crowe, with the blessing of the formation team, determined that seminary was not right for him. In the wild and humorous ways of God, Crowe landed on his feet in Steubenville, Ohio, where he manages the online presence for Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he also trains altar servers and is the head master of ceremonies for the Mass in the Extraordinary Form on campus.

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