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Balance between science and faith


At Issue: Cloning returned to newspapers’ front pages last week after South Korean scientists said they’d succeeded in creating human embryo clones. Several scientists have praised the breakthrough because of the effect it could have on treating people’s medical conditions. How do you view such ‘breakthroughs’ in science?

Response: I must admit, I was more interested in the daily routine of Dr. Hwang — who is described in some of this week’s articles as a Buddhist workaholic — than his recent accomplishment along with Dr. Moon in cloning a human embryo.

Supposedly, Hwang gets up at 4 a.m., hits the public baths, then practices a style of Korean yoga before arriving at work at 6 a.m. After a jam-packed day of office and field research, he returns home at midnight for a few hours of rest before starting again in the early a.m. He proudly announces his office is open seven days a week with no time off. I found myself asking such philosophical questions as: Does he have a wife or family? How long can he go on? And, how is morale at his workplace? In all seriousness, the revolutionary contribution of Zen is to look for “breakthroughs” where “no man has gone before,” that is, right under our very noses. I don’t mean to undervalue the fantastic contributions scientists have made in both explaining some of the great mysteries of how life and the universe are constructed, and also relieving some of the great suffering caused by disease.

But I will hold my excitement for the time when all children receive equal education and healthcare, when people stop killing one another in war, on the streets and in prisons and women can finally live without fear of rape or domestic violence.

– The Rev. Carol Aguilar

Published: February 21, 2004