Clash: Dr von Hagens and the Bishop
Science v Religion
The human body is the ultimate machine. And soon to be showing alongside the engines at the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) is an exhibition of real human corpses. But is it a lesson in science? Or ‘a little shop of horrors’? Join the debate:
Since it first opened ten years ago, 25 million people have been to see anatomist Dr Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds show and its human bodies, preserved using his ground-breaking technique of plastination.
Respectful? Showing at Body Worlds
Now Body Worlds 4 is coming to Manchester (from Feb 22) displaying dozens of real bodies stripped of their skins and arranged in a series of lifelike poses, dancing, playing football, cards or musical instruments.
And an almighty clash with the city’s religious leaders awaits.
The exhibition is no stranger to controversy. But now, the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev Nigel McCullough has condemned Body Worlds saying that the human body, made in God’s image, should be shown respect and not used for profit or entertainment.
"My concern is that the bodies of people who have lived lives, some of whom, I suspect, with quite a bit of suffering, are simply being used effectively for a kind of freaky horror show."
The Church has also set up a campaign website www.corpseshow.info which attacks the museum for allowing free entry to under 5s, and claims that Body Worlds could result in a reduction in organ and body donation in Manchester.
Dr von Hagens, meanwhile, has stressed that all the body specimens used were donated freely. He also argued that Body Worlds’ origins were not in the Victorian freak show, as the Church is claiming, but ironically in religion itself!.
"Anatomical exhibitions originated in churches during the Renaissance,” he said, “...when church leaders viewed anatomy and dissection as a window into God's work."
Tony Hill, acting director of MOSI said: "As well as being a fascinating insight into the human body, the exhibition is very educational, as it demonstrates to people the impact of unhealthy lifestyles on our bodies."
He also added that the museum was only promoting Body Worlds to children aged 11+.
Have Your Say
What do you think? Is Body Worlds a science show? Or a freak show?
last updated: 21/02/2008 at 18:33
Have Your Say