Time Magazine on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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  • Time Magazine on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

  • - 06/16/2009
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There was a recent cover story in Time magazine that proclaimed “How the Coming Revolution in Stem Cells Could Save Your Life”. Once you go to the article inside entitled “Stem Cell Research: The Quest Resumes” by Alice Park, it features Dr. Douglas Melton who is more than just a little pleased that what he considers are the backwards restrictions of George W. Bush have now happily faded into history.[1]

Even more Melton is pleased that now we live in the enlightened age of Barack Obama who campaigned on the forward thinking progress of lifting Bush’s research ban on embryonic stem cell research. According to Melton, this means that “we can stop the silliness”[2]. In fact, to demonstrate just how silly the ban against embryonic stem cell research really is Melton—much to the delight of an undergraduate class at Harvard—asks a Catholic Bishop if “he considered a day-old embryo and a 6-year-old to be moral equivalents.” When the Bishop responds “yes,” Melton countered by asking, “why society accepts the freezing of embryos but not the freezing of 6-year-olds.”[3] The implication is that the Bishop must be left stumped and speechless by our brilliant doctor.

So what’s wrong with the above picture? First, I would say historically society has accepted all kinds of atrocities. Atrocities like slavery, the subordination of women, and the horror of eugenics, and that’s just to name a few. As such to ask why society accepts the freezing of embryos is to ask the wrong question. Society is not the arbiter of truth whether that be moral truth or otherwise.

Furthermore, as the good doctor must surely know, embryos do not have a fully developed personality, but they do have full personhood from the moment of conception. You did not come from an adolescent; you once were an adolescent. Likewise you did not come from an embryo; you once were an embryo. All human beings are created in the image of God and endowed with the right to life, regardless of size, location, or level of dependency. Make no mistake about this; extracting stem cells from an embryo kills a human being.

Additionally, killing human embryos in the search for cures is tantamount to subjecting one class of people to harmful experimentation for the sake of another. To do so violates the biblical injunction against murdering humans made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:5-6).

Finally, let me point out that when a woman conceives a child, she doesn’t conceive a mere body but rather she conceives a body-soul unity. As such the extraction of a stem cell from a conceptus causes an unnatural rending of body and soul. Despite the horrors of this experimentation on human beings we can take solace in the fact that God will restore what the doctor has temporarily destroyed. The hope of Christianity is that those who die will yet live. Whether one dies at age sixty, six, or as a six hour old embryo, all will be resurrected at the end of time.

For further information on this topic, please see my Complete Bible Answer Book, Human Dignity in The Biotech Century: A Christian Vision for Public Policy by Charles W Colson and Nigel M. de. S. Cameron, and my new CD or DVD resource Heaven: What is it? All this is available at our website of www.equip.org

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[1] Alice Park,  “Stem Cell Research: The Quest Resumes,” Time (http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1874717,00.html). Accessed February 19, 2009.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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