Stem Cell Injunction Dictated by Doctrine

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Last week two people I know were diagnosed with colon cancer, one of the deadliest of all cancers.

Because my wife and I are cancer survivors, and because my mother died of cancer because she was afraid to go to the doctor, I've come to know a little about the disease.

My friends have a serious illness, but there is a path to recovery that was not there not so long ago. And as I talked to them last week, I was again struck by the remarkable progress science is making to give them that path.

Being told we have cancer no longer means we've been given the death penalty.

Like all scientific breakthroughs, advances in cancer research began and depend on basic research - science's ability to go not where doctrine or tradition dictates, but where research takes it.

Ironically, my friends were diagnosed about the time a federal judge issued the injunction placing limits on stem cell research, an area that holds the greatest possibilities for medical breakthroughs since penicillin.

I have the greatest respect for those who disagree, but to me putting restraints on stem cell research is not far from those who refused to look through Galileo's telescope because they believed their doctrines and tradition had already told them what they would see.

Their beliefs, too, were deeply held - but where would the store of knowledge be had their view prevailed?

As we again try to untangle the arguments over stem cells, let us also consider this: No civilization, no society, has survived if its people came to believe they knew enough and needed to know nothing more.

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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.