Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Sequel to Se7en is Going to Suck

So a Vatican newspaper listed seven new Deadly Sins. It's apparently a little more complicated than that: it wasn't the official new deadly sins, but rather Bishop Gianfranco Girotti's comments about sins. However, he still did list seven new sins, and while they might not replace gluttony and envy, they are still considered really bad by the Vatican. Here they are:

  1. genetic modification;
  2. human experimentations
  3. polluting the environment
  4. social injustice
  5. causing poverty
  6. financial gluttony
  7. taking drugs

I'm not Catholic, but I don't think it's my theological background that makes it difficult for me how to exactly comprehend why some of these things are really that bad, or even how to judge that they're happening.

Genetic Modification

I don't have enough knowledge of science to know where the whole genetic modification thing begins: does plant grafting qualify, and if not, why not. Also, I fail to see how some things, such as implanting human genes into pigs so that pigs can grow organs that aren't rejected by humans should be a sin. I guess that all sins have some gray area, and I guess here the church is concerned that scientists can make some sort of super human like in Gattaca.

Human Experimentations

Again, where do you draw the line? Obviously, if it's involuntary human experimentations, that's bad, but I doubt that the bishop is trying to be so specific here. However, in some cases, human experimentation can yield great results. In 1967, South African Louis Washkansky had incurable heart disease. Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed a heart transplant at Groote Schuur hospital in Capetown. Mr. Washkansky lived only another 18 days, but an operation on Philip Blaiberg provided another 19 months of life, and Dorothy Fisher's heart transplant allowed her to live an additional 24 years. If Dr. Barnard had not "experimented" on Mr. Washkansky, Mr. Washkansky would have met his demise 18 days earlier, but the other patients would have lost considerable time.

Polluting the Environment

I guess the question here is how much and for what purpose? I don't think that many people would disagree that dumping your trash next to the road is a bad thing, or dumping used motor oil into your local pond. But we need some pollution: without any pollution, there would massive starvation. So I guess this must mean against excessive pollution, but again, but there's probably some way to get less pollution in exchange for higher cost or lower production of just about anything. Obviously, no one really wants pollution, but we have it because it's the result of a trade-off. Having no pollution just isn't feasible. Well, a government could mandate no pollution or very low pollution, I guess, but then they'd be guilty of "casuing poverty".

Social Injustice

This is one of those vague terms that can mean all kinds of things like living wage, and various mandates for economic equality. Many of the things adovated by social justice types are pretty much incompatible with economic reality. According to Wikipedia, Pope Benefict said, "The encyclical says that social justice is the primary responsibility of politics and the laity; the church itself should inform the debate on social justice with reason guided by faith, but its main social activity should be directed towards charity."

That sounds like a sensible approach...

Causing poverty

I'm at a loss here. I mean, the first guy that jumps to mind is Robert Mugabe. In fact, it would seem to me that the only people that could actually cause poverty would be people with the backing of a government or outright criminals. The former could mean heads of state or heads of government agencies or departments, or anyone else who implements disastrous economic policies. An industrialist who bribes a government to stop competition so he could charge more for his products would be causing poverty.

Criminals can cause poverty: an arsonist can burn down a building, which would result in someone being poor. Vandals (people who vandalize, not the Germanic tribe) can cause poverty. Thieves also can cause poverty.

Besides criminals and people with the backing of the government, I don't see anyone falling into this category. An industrialist may make a product that is better than existing products and put a lot of people out of work, causing poverty. However, without this, there'd be no progress: if a new technology is accepted by the market, it will lead to disruptions. The first lightbulb companies put candle makers out of work.

Financial Gluttony

This one at least features a word that indicates a degree of something ("gluttony") and not an absolute. However, just because one guy amasses large sums of money doesn't mean he's depriiving someone else of the ability to earn more and save more. And while I undertand where the Church is coming from on this one, it's sort of ironic that a lot of churches were build on the fact that some financial glutton died and left his money to a church.

Taking Drugs

Well, obviously, this must mean drugs that have no medicinal value for you. At least I hope so, lest the Catholic Church is preparing to do a merger with Chrisian Scientists. I hope that caffeine and alcohol get an exemption, or is the Catholic Church trying to also merge with the Mormons...

Anyway, one thing we can be sure about is that if this is the new seven deadly sin list, the sequal to Se7en (the movie starring Brad Pitt and Morgn Freeman) is going to suck. Unless they can bring Mugabe to a premature demise...

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