Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

President Obama, as expected, recently lifted the ban on federal funding for most embryonic stem cell research that George W. Bush had put in place early in his presidency. Conservative Christians are saying this will kill living human beings, while others are saying this is a victory for science. Let’s take a look at what all this means.

When some say that science should not be dictated by ideology, that is a false, dangerous, and misleading statement. Science should be controlled and guided by ethical standards. The ethics you use can be derived from Scripture (my preference), your society’s tradition (shaky ground), or something made up as you go along (worst way to go). As we all know, science can be abused and misused. There is plenty of “junk science” out there, and there are quite a few poorly done studies or fudged numbers masquerading as science. We should remember that science should not be our god, nor is it infallible. Just as the medical profession takes an oath to do no harm, scientists should be similarly responsible.

Many people, if not most, believe life begins at conception. There are many reasonable arguments to support this belief. Interestingly, the Bible is silent on the matter. If you believe that life begins at conception, then these embryos are living human beings. Given that fact, the next question is, What do you do with them?

Ideally, these embryos would be planted in a woman and would be allowed to develop into a baby. However, there are so many of these “leftover” embryos from fertilization procedures that there aren’t enough women to have these babies. So what do we do? Keep them in the freezer forever? Thaw them out and let them die? Let scientists experiment with them in the hope that some good will come out of it, even though we are killing them in the process? This is at the heart of the ethical dilemma.

My own personal opinion is that if these embryos can’t be harvested and implanted in a woman, then we should do the next best thing, which is to free their spirits to go to heaven. Right now, their spirits are trapped in a suspended life, which seems cruel. Rather than let these little lives be lost for nothing, we should let scientists experiment using their stem cells. However, in no case do I believe it is moral or ethical to create embryos solely for the purpose of experimentation or therapeutic purposes. Only these “leftovers” should be used, so their lives are not lost in vain.

In addition, I feel that fertilization clinics should limit the number of embryos created so that we don’t have thousand of these little lives being lost. I might also add that those on the Left seem so sure about the promise of embryonic stem cell research. They seem to think that this will be the next great breakthrough in science and medicine. However, scientists have also seen very promising results from research on adult stem cells, a fact that isn’t mentioned as much in the mainstream media. I would be willing to bet that adult stem cells will ultimately be more successful than embryonic stem cell research. Why? Because God won’t bless endeavors which kill human lives. Given the large number of these embryos, I believe we have to use them to learn for ourselves which type of stem cell works the best.

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