Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Dobson's Nazi Analogy for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Al Mohler blogs this morning about James Dobson, Stem Cells, Nazi Medical Experiments, and the Theater of Politics and finds the criticism wanting. Steve Wagner has more on Dr. Dobson's comments: "Right on Target": Part 1 and Part 2. See also Dennis Prager's clarifying column (which Dr. Mohler cites), where Mr. Prager concludes that Dobson said nothing wrong.

It's no surprise that I agree in the main with Mohler, Wagner, and Prager on this. However, I would add that one of the components of obeying Jesus' command to be wise as serpents may be that we remain exceedingly careful in drawing any sort of analogy with the Holocaust, even when it is true. We live in a day and age when the cultural rhetoric is inundated with inexact claims of parallelism between Nazi Germany and today (e.g., Bush = Hitler), such that to draw any comparison may simply be ineffective. I wonder if it's not time to think of more creative ways of making the case against utiliarian presuppositions. In some sense, hearkening back to the Holocaust is just too easy.

Another reason to consider avoiding the comparison is that we also live in a culture that does not think or read very well. (As evidenced by the widespread misunderstanding of Dr. Dobson's modest claim.) The Holocaust analogy is often perceived as code or boilerplate, with people dashing off refutations before stopping to consider the way in which the claim is being made. Again, I think we need to do a better job of coming up with creative ways to make people think, using the Socratic method and thought experiements.

This is one of the reasons I so appreciate my friends at STR, who are continually laboring to say old truths in such a way that provokes new categories of thought.