Embryonic Stem Cell Research - The Heart of the MatterWith new technologies come new frontiers. Sometimes, this new territory presents ethical challenges never previously considered. And, every once in a while, just the research itself creates the challenge - before any advance has even been realized! Such is the case with Embryonic Stem Cell Research. At the time of this writing, the extraction of these stem cells for research kills the embryo. If cures are discovered, a full scale cultivation - and harvest - of embryos will then ensue. So, what do Naturalists think about this? What about Biblical Theists? And where do Humanists stand?
The Naturalistic View. The Naturalist is for the life of an embryo over any present, malady-ridden human. Beneficial mutations arise randomly, and the new life of any species has always been the engine that drives evolution. But even more importantly, in light of our impending doom [our sun is dying], any one of these new lives may possess the needed genius to deliver us from our coming fate. Currently, few embryos have been killed. But even this loss is totally unacceptable to the Naturalist, as our next Einstein may now be strewn in some lab somewhere. But if this research does lead to cures, embryos will be grown for harvest. So, here is the question. What is it called when a species consumes its own? You already know the answer. Therapies coming from embryonic stem cell harvesting will be a sophisticated form of cannibalism.
I hear the screeching even now. "What kind of radical lunacy is that? Cannibalism? Cannibalism is the eating of the flesh of ones own species! Nobody is eating an embryo! They will enter sick bodies by injection, implant, pills - or some way other than eating. And besides that, eating is for nutrition - and the embryos will be consumed for medicinal purposes!" Well, are you done yet? "*#%@* no, you twisted, *#+%*, ! These embryos will be used to heal people of all kinds of horrific diseases. Do you want to let these people suffer and die? And what if it is your Mom or your Dad, or child - or you - that can be cured? Your tone will change real quick. And what if ...." I know you are still screeching, but I am temporarily cutting you off and will now address those not ruled by emotion.
Embryonic stem cell therapies will be the consumption of one genetically complete (and unique) human life form - by another genetically complete (and unique) human life form. Any biologist, researcher, or doctor who denies this physical reality has left the realm of science - and opted for some kind of metaphysical speculation. An embryo is human flesh. It is nothing else and it cannot become anything else. It's just very young and very small - and unable to defend itself.
As far as "eating" an embryo, from the embryo's point of view, whether injected - or chewed up - this is a distinction without a difference. The embryo's life ends - with a member of its own species consuming its stem cells. This is at least "a sophisticated form of cannibalism." But, the more I think about it, this is just plain old cannibalism with a high tech twist.
Concerning "nutrition versus medicine," our body often uses food to heal and repair itself. And if it is my Mom or Dad, or child (or me) who would be cured by this cannibalism, what does that have to do with anything? Does personal need supplant fact? It might for the Humanist, but never for the Naturalist or Biblical Theist. The Naturalist would not be concerned if we consumed the stem cells of pigs or cows, but a species growing and consuming its own preborn? Even the desire to do such a thing sounds alarms in true Naturalists. Surely the desire, and practice, of the cannibalization of one's preborn population should be a part of self-extinction science. Maybe the dinosaurs started eating their own eggs.
"Ah! But these research embryos are destined for the dump as frozen "extras". And if cures are found, the embryos grown for harvest would be grown only for that purpose." This is not the speech of the Naturalist. Read on.
The ability of making "test tube" embryos opens a whole new world for the thinking, non-cannibalistic Evolutionist! Rather than growing embryos for harvest why not grow them for birth and unique adulthood? With current technologies, the "test tube" would be replaced by a "rubberized womb" - programmed to imitate a mother's daily range of activity. And here's the best part. All fluids would be absolutely free of pollutants! No crack babies, no junk food babies, no babies damaged by alcohol .... These newborns would have no impurities - other than what was present in the first two original cells! What an enhancement to evolutionary development! So, what makes more sense scientifically? Cannibalize the coming generation for a current, malady-ridden, older one, or bring all embryos to fruition as they may hold the beneficial mutations we desperately need? For the Naturalist, the answer is evident.
The Biblical Theistic View. Before the advent of artificial insemination, egg fertilization occurred only in the womb at the discretion of the Creator. But even in the "test tube," man cannot make the egg fertile - much less make an embryo. These "test tube" embryos are simply the result of humans manipulating other human life. Manipulation into life does not translate into creator rights over life. Embryos are not reduced to fodder for cannibalization or the garbage dump. These "throw away" embryos are as human as you and I. Whoever manipulates these humans into life are responsible for their well being. The manipulator becomes - a surrogate parent.
Man will always be subject to the decrees, standards and judgements of the Creator of life. The Author of the Bible claims to be that Creator, and there is no indication He ever intends on relinquishing this position of sole dominion. "See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me. It is I who put to death and give life ...." (Deut 32:39). I believe "the spark" that makes something alive (when all the elements are innately inorganic) will always remain in the hands of the Creator. Man will never figure it out, replicate it, or bottle it.
Once alive, no human can act against the life of another human unless that human is guilty of a capital offense. An embryo is fully - and only - human life. These lethal attacks on embryos are premeditated - and future therapies will add charges of cannibalism. "All unrighteousness is sin" (1 Jn 5:17).
The Bible maintains that human life is the most important object in our observable physical universe. It would be better to face the Creator as a lying, adulterous, murdering drunk - rather than an embryonic stem cell research advocate or participant. The eternal punishment will be less severe.
Some contend these "extra" embryos should be used for the greater good - research now and therapies later. After all, these are not scheduled for implant - and will simply perish. This is an amoral position based upon an assumption that the embryo's perilous plight is now no one's responsibility. This assumption will not prevail before the Creator.
The Humanistic View. It is only here that embryonic stem cell endeavors have a home. Because the embryo has been declared nonhuman, or subhuman, then anything can be done with this blob of protoplasm. The life of the embryo can be experimented with, removed, or given to another human. After all, an embryo is only the size of this period. (Your eye just skipped it.) For the Humanist, an embryo's life is trumped by any contrary consideration. The curiosity of researchers trump the embryo's life. Cries for cures trump the embryo's life. Economic gains for a State (i.e., California) trump the embryo's life. Politicians, who smell the gain of votes, trump the embryo's life. Any grounds which the Humanist envisions as some kind of gain for somebody - other than the embryo - trump the embryo's life. The unscientific declaration - "the preborn is not human life" - fosters all kinds of predictable atrocities. With science abandoned and Biblical Theism gone, the sole authority for valuation is opinion - grounded in nothing. Humanism's "substance" is thin air....
[When abortion on demand was legalized, many pro-lifers warned of a "slippery slope" with human life being devalued in all kinds of ways. But, I doubt anyone envisioned cannibalism of the preborn.]
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About The Author: Robin’s soul-stirring Ebook on the abortion argument contains the Article above. He has other Ebooks that address death, no tithe for the Christian, capital punishment, and love. You can find each Free Christian Ebook at www.freelygive-n.com ! Robin earned a BA, Bus. Admin (Milligan College '90) and Master of Divinity (Emmanuel School of Religion '92). He will challenge you!