Body Worlds

Aaron Ginsburg sent me a link to his Stop Body Worlds page. He’s got lots of useful links on facts and criticism of this macabre exhibit by Gunther von Hagens that has traveled throughout the world.

Earlier this year in Pittsburgh, Eileen Catz, an employee of the museum that was to host it, resigned in protest. “We don’t know how these people died or why they died.”

“We don’t need actual human bodies to educate people about smoking,” said Mr. Ginsburg, the pharmacist. “The bodies are there to sell tickets. My issue is not just the source of the bodies, but the use of them. It cheapens humanity and that’s a dangerous direction to go.”

Mr. Geller said he believes the opposite is true.

“People who haven’t see the show can only speculate about it. If you see it, it takes away all the negativity.”

I haven’t seen the exhibit in person–but I don’t have to. When it was in Houston, the macabre images were plastered over billboards, in newspaper ads, on the internet, and on TV. These human beings were made in the image of God; while alive they were mothers and fathers and children and brothers and sisters; they once loved and were loved; now they are stripped of their dignity, plastinated, partially dissected and placed in ridiculous poses–riding a horse, playing cards, etc.

This is a voyeuristic spectacle, not science.

There are two issues here. One is this desecration of the human body. The other is the source of the bodies. China, a land where life is very cheap, is the leader in this industry. Many plants have opened up in China to process these bodies–but where do they come from? Who are they? How did they die? Did they know this would happen to them? Did they give their consent? These are other ethical questions the promoters can’t answer.

But even if they did answer these questions, the insult to human dignity remains.

Here’s an excellent statement from the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Unfortunately, in other cities, religious officials have been too often silent (Dallas) or have defended the exhibit (Houston). This is an issue where all men and women of conscience, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Agnostic–all who believe in the dignity of the human person–should be united.

What is our society coming to when this passes as entertainment?

2 thoughts on “Body Worlds

  1. That’s an old fallacy.

    The photos of the exhibit are all over the place (even in “Casino Royale”).

    One doesn’t have to look at a macabre posed corpse to say, based on a belief in the dignity of the human person, that this is morally repugnant.

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