As we noted at the end of our conversation last week, the recent days have brought a real flood of science news, some of which touch on topics we’ve wrestled with before.
Three developments in particular came up. The first revolves around vaccine hesitancy. With the key to beating the COVID pandemic seen to be getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, a lot of people have been surprised to learn that there’s real reluctance in the minds of many about getting any of the available vaccines. That one was temporarily suspended because of a link to an extremely rare type of blood clots has only fueled that reluctance.
So the first topic we’re going to touch on is COVID vaccination, why some might be reluctant to get those shots, and whether that makes sense. This article from the Philadelphia Inquirer is an interesting place to start. We can think about this as a medical issue, a scientific issue, or an ethical/spiritual question. In fact, we’ll probably do all three.
Another big story from recent weeks is the ongoing robotic exploration of Mars, and especially that milestone moment when a miniature helicopter took to the Martian skies, the first flight ever on another planet. All of this is part of what has been a decades-long search for signs of extraterrestrial life.
So our second topic is to revisit the idea of life beyond the Earth. And in particular what would the discovery of life, or evidence of past life, on Mars tell us about our own place in creation? This article from The New York Times has the latest on the Martian helicopter and the research under way on Mars.
Finally, we learned recently that a team of researchers had for the first time successfully managed to grow monkey embryos containing human cells, so-called “chimeras,” intended to be a step toward developing new technologies for things like testing drugs or growing organs for human transplant. Of course, as we discussed a couple of years ago when we first wrestled with this topic, such research poses all kinds of thorny ethical and theological questions.
So we’re going to talk about that too. This article from Nature is a great starting place as an overview on both the research and some of the reservations and objections that are being raised to it.
In short, our conversation tomorrow evening is going to be heavy on science talk, but with our own Pub Theology spin on it. Join us for the virtual discussion beginning at 7pm. Click on the link below the be part of the conversation.