Skip to comments.The ‘End of Men’ is postponed
Posted on 04/15/2007 5:59:15 PM PDT by bruinbirdman
You would have thought that the prospect of an end to male infertility would be enough to get the media excited. But when news broke that scientists had taken a step towards creating artificial sperm from stem cells, a funny thing happened. Most commentators didnt seem bothered that medicine may soon be able to help men who make no sperm to become fathers. All they wanted to do was to debate the end of men.
The story went like this. If it proves possible to make working sperm from a mans bone marrow, couldnt you make them from female cells too? Then lesbians could become fathers by fertilising their partners eggs. Their children would bear the genes of two women. Men would become redundant, unnecessary even to fill the turkey baster. Cue much outraged speculation about the dawn of an Amazonian dystopia.
The indignant railing against Nature usurped, of course, conveniently forgets that most women are not lesbians and will always find it more fun to breed the old-fashioned way. It also ignores the science, because none of this is remotely close to happening.
Artificial sperm are going to be hard enough to make from male stem cells; there is an even bigger biological barrier to creating them for women that many experts think will never be overcome. To make a working sperm cell, you seem to need a Y chromosome and women, by definition, are always going to be lacking in that department. Female fatherhood could pose ethical questions if it were possible though Im not convinced they are big ones but it almost certainly isnt. We may as well worry about the moral implications of raising the dead.
Such thought experiments are often harmless. Not this one. Impassioned debate about the implausible is obscuring the real purpose of this research and risks turning public opinion against it for the wrong reasons. This technology could allow boys sterilised by cancer treatment, who are too young to bank sperm, to father their own genetic children. It will help men, not threaten them. Silly fears about lesbian dads are an irrelevance today, and may never amount to more than science fiction. Bioethical bridges are best crossed as we come to them. The Vatican is growing uneasy about evolution. Although his predecessor endorsed it as more than a hypothesis, Pope Benedict XVI thinks it is not a complete, scientifically proven theory and has come close to backing creationism in its new guise of intelligent design. His reason: We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory.
Not with humans, true. But as a comment on P. Z. Myerss magnificent Pharyngula blog points out, bacteria take only 200 days to cover so much evolutionary ground. Scientists study this all the time and the results fit Darwins theory rather well. Even if we cant repeat human evolution in the lab, we should at least haul the Bible out from it.
No, you still need a human wallet to pay for everything.
> No, you still need a human wallet to pay for everything.
I want to shake hands with the guy who can "fill" a turkey baster, in anything under a month.
Well, wait... maybe not "shake hands"....
Cheer up! The same stem cells can be used to make uteruses! Good news for both gay men and gay women!
In fact--each partner could make both ova and spermatozoa. Each could fertilize his/her partner's ova with his/her spermat...uh...
This is getting pretty complicated.
But it is beginning to make a case for gay marriage...uh
...I think...uh...I'm getting confused...uh...
That's easy. Just snip a leg off of an X-chromosome, and presto! A Y!
LOL ... snorting water all over my keyboard.
And also you need men to blame for everything wrong in the world.
That’s right. Everybody is obsolete. We need to get rid of the people and go back to being stem cells as Nature intended.
How about “nod” in their general direction.
> How about nod in their general direction.
You mean, just a tip of the head?