Merry Micemas

The gift of science and its greatest substitute

Whether myth or metaphor, during the Christmas time and celebration, many Christians worldwide are contemplating on what they consider the greatest sacrifice — Jesus being born to substitute himself and sacrifice his life for anyone’s sins. In other words you could be a serial killer, a rapist or a child molester and all you have to do is accept that Jesus died and paid for your sins. Although paying for someone’s sins especially if he wronged others and not you is unrealistic and for many people worldwide no short of grotesque, could this be a metaphor for something of immense scientific proportions?

Others just enjoy family time and the gift exchange tradition, keeping it a fun activity for children and family and not worrying too much about the religious aspect of Christmas. But as we go through different shops looking to get impressive gifts for our loved ones to let them know that they’re special in our life, it’s perhaps a great time to think about the gift of science and its substitution we get year around although we never celebrate its birthday. Not many Christians realize that science provides us the realistic and evil truth about substitution and the sacrificing of lives for our sins so that many of us could truly be saved! One doesn’t have to look too hard to find the evidence; all scientific labs using the mouse model are proof of great sacrifices where millions of mice give their lives so that millions of humans can be saved as they commit all kinds of health and lifestyle sins. As science came to stay with us for good perhaps in some ways like Jesus, we should always take time to celebrate its uncounted miracles, Christmas time especially. Some may be quick to ask, “What do you mean? Where is Jesus? I don’t see him!” Well, all the science we benefit of today, secular humanism, the western civilization, democracy and more, are all proof that Jesus stayed and continues to stay with us just like science does and always will!

Many of us, Christians or not, have heard sermons and talks on various parallels of certain Bible characters or even common people about how they were/are born to be a “type” of Christ, sacrificing their life for the benefit of others. However, many modern Christians will admit that they don’t believe Jesus died for our sins as they could not comprehend why an intelligent and all powerful God could not resort to better modes or means. But for those of us that enjoy metaphors, whether religious ones or secular ones, in a sense Jesus may have died to save us from some sins (not all) by establishing a foundation where science can begin and exist. When it comes to science, sacrifices are a necessary evil which must happen in order for us to be saved from our many sins. Among the many sacrifices performed in scientific labs, mice are the greatest and most valuable offerings because of their genetic similarity to humans and their overall practicality. Millions are sacrificed worldwide in order to save people that sinned, sin at this moment (especially with all the food from Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s day) and will sin in the future (you name it — lack of exercise, pollution, stress, etc.). The most important health related discoveries and the best drugs and medicine ever produced are the result of their great sacrifice and substitution.

Although the word sacrifice comes from religion, there’s nothing religious about sacrificing a mouse and certainly no one prays to a mouse for forgiveness although it would make more sense to do so than praying to any deity for the available treatments of diseases. The profound and touching experience I get from my research studies related to cancer biology is that each and every time I receive a batch of new mice for my studies, I know they were born and pre-destined for a life of torture and sacrifice so that the many lives of humans could be saved in the literal sense and have another chance at this truly and amazing thing we call life. As I watch the mice’ tumors grow and get bigger, their health getting worse, hear their pain and affliction for our sins going on for weeks or months, there’s no doubt in my mind they suffer terribly as they give up their lives for many of us to be saved from our sins.

Science and technology cannot yet show us how to produce life, let alone create complex human life at this stage in our existence and evolution. It is why we consider life of both humans and animals special, sacred and something we should cherish, value and celebrate. Some of us certainly do, whereas others do not really cherish life, not even their own, for if they would, they will take better care of their bodies, eat healthier, pollute less and be more considerate towards others and the entire environment they live in. Perhaps they take a different metaphor the wrong way. They feel that just like “Jesus” died and you can be forgiven no matter what you do, science and medicine will come up with all the solutions for any health problems caused by bad choices in diets, lifestyles and ways of thinking. Thus, why worry so much when you can enjoy life and sin a little?

There’s a good chance science and technology will forgive and save us from some of our gravest sins! But why commit them in the first place if we have a conscience? Oh, but that is one of the greatest problems and the most interesting crossroads of religion and science. We often hear of preachers, priests and other religious personalities committing all kinds of grave sins (money laundering, sexual misconduct, etc. etc.), having lifestyles completely opposite of what they preach. Likewise, many scientists and healthcare providers live some of the unhealthiest lifestyles, not taking care of their bodies, smoking, and committing all kinds of health related sins. You’d think both parties should behave or know better! Thus, the essence of this metaphor is, why not become better people, non-believers and believers alike, by treating ourselves and each other better, being more ethical and living healthier so that no one must be sacrificed on our behalf? As scientists we hope we do not have to sacrifice the life of lab specimen in order to save that of humans. But if we do not have other means, we must resort to this unfortunate, yet, amazing procedure which makes the exchange of life or restitution possible in a way that in my humble opinion religion cannot and will never accomplish, at least not realistically.

Perhaps religion and science both have a common problem, addiction. There are those addicted to sinning and praying and there are those addicted to sinning and taking drugs, both groups thinking and wishing for a quick fix of their problems. Unfortunately, many humans find it difficult to rely on common sense and rationality when they can rely on religion or drugs; the sad truth is, when under their influence, life is somewhat more bearable for quite a few people. Reality is often cruel, it discriminates and doesn’t offer much relief and acceptance to most people. Either way we go, religion or science, there is some substitution and some acceptance in both cases and both require some sacrificing, depending on your sins. With religion, fundamentalists must always sacrifice their intellect, whether they realize it or not. But with science, we can presently stop sacrificing our intellect and perhaps some day we can stop the sacrificing of life altogether.

Now that we can grow limbs and organs in the laboratory, we will soon start experimenting directly on growing human limbs and organs and if successful, we could cease the sacrificing of various lab models. Such a revolution is a step forward in ethics and morals that only science can bring about. We can also perform all kinds of organ transplants, and someday we may be in a place with no more physical pain and suffering; perhaps we might even bring humans back from death. But if ever, it is science and technology that will certainly take us there as we do not have much evidence that religion ever will. And just as many folks believe that Jesus was born to save us, some could certainly use this as a metaphor to save themselves from an intellectual death and start a new life, improved by science, technology and common sense. As this is the only life we know of and are sure of living while we still have it, Christmas could be a good way to remind at least some of us about the greatest sacrifices in science which give many humans a chance to a new and better life while saving them from both a physical and intellectual illness and death and restituting their health. In addition to the Christmas carols we like to sing, we should all carol to science in excelsis!