SPidge Tales

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Stem Cell Research--A Brave New World Indeed

Recently, it was discovered that the Korean doctor who claimed to have cloned embryos for purposes of stem cell research actually had not cloned any embryos yet. In a not unrelated story, Judge Samuel Alito, Bush’s nominee to the Supreme Court, went through three days of questioning this week before the Senate Judiciary committee. I am not a fan of Bush. I do not like the direction he has been taking the country, particularly regarding health care, social security, tax cuts, and what increasingly appears to be an un-winnable war. Yet, with issues such as embryonic stem cell research, and the albatross of Roe V. Wade weighing down state and national legislatures abilities to enact reasonable curbs on the unmitigated “reproductive rights (wrongs)” prevalent today, sometimes I am glad that it is Bush, and not Kerry, making judicial appointments. Mind you, I would rather have Kerry leading the country in just about every other area, but not here.

While I would still disagree, I could understand if all that the proponents of embryonic stem cell research were asking for was the right to create stem cell lines out of left over embryos from fertility clinics that would otherwise just be thrown out. However, scientists know that, even if they used every single “spare” embryo (what happened to the days when spares dealt with bowling and tires), they would still need more for the purposes of working towards creating cures for diseases. This is why they advocate for, on top of the use of “leftovers”, the donation of eggs and sperm for the express purpose of creating embryos to use for research, and the right to begin “therapeutic” cloning to create embryos for research. What this will entail is creating life purposely to destroy it so that it can be used for other causes.

This would bring us into an entirely new era of humanity (if we could even call it “humanity” anymore). Humans have always justified killing other humans for various reasons. Other than absolute pacifists, all people have justified killing in some way or form since the beginning of civilization, whether it be self-defense, war, capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, or sacrificing young women to the crop gods for a better harvest. We have all supported at least one or two of these, at the very least in certain instances (personally, I would justify killing in self defense and occassionally war). But, embryonic stem cell research brings us into a whole new world. Never before have people justified creating human life with the express intention of using the people created, killing the people created, for some other cause. We are perilously close to trying to play God. I want to see debilitating diseases such as paralysis and Alzheimer’s cured just as much as anyone, but we need to remember that the ends do not justify the means. This is an important time for us to read books such as C.S. Lewis’s Abolition of Man and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Before we go forward with the newest “fad” cure, we need to ask, what will lose? In remembering the clichéd warning, “be careful what you wish for, you just may get it,” I fear that we will lose our humanity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

While you are certainly correct in that we are launching ourselves into a new age of humanity- the prospects of our technology are getting more amazing and terrible by the day- you are naive to consider anything from solely the confines of religion. This is not a Christian state. No matter the religious opinions of the Commander in Chief or the most forgotten of beggars in D.C.- these are not considerations of politics. Religion is a subjective choice, not a means by which to create law. If you are a true Christian, you would understand that in giving us free will, God gave us the ability to choose our lives. Those who are pro-choice respect the same. They are not pro-abortion... who could be? It is an unfortunate and devastating occurence that no women would WANT to choose. But there are occasions, based upon the experiences of the individual alone, that result in this end. IT is neither favorable or desired. IT is just truth. And there is no one that has the right to take that choice, the agent of free will, from any other human being. IT is shortsighted to think otherwise. Your experiences are your own, and no one should tell you what to believe. Similar, no one should take away the ABILITY for you to believe and choose accordingly. Matters of God, matters of the heart, matters of the human body need to be left up to the human being his/herself.

7:57 PM  
Blogger SeanPatrick said...

Dear Anonymous,
That is quite the response, and I wish that you would have left your name. I enjoy dialogue, debate, etc. I am not going to get into a discussion on abortion, per se. I know all the arguments on both sides, as I'm sure you do, and neither of us will change the others' mind. The argument I was making was not specifically Christian, or necessarily religious. One need not be Christian to oppose embryonic stem cell research, abortion, etc. There are rational arguments outside the realm of religion to be used. Likewise, one need not be secular to support stem cell research, abortion, etc.--there are religious arguments (though not Catholic) in favor of them. Just look at the books I mentioned. C.S. Lewis, though a Christian apologist, does not use religion in his argument in Abolition of Man. He just points out that all cultures throughout history (until the "Enlightenment") believed that right and wrong are independent of what man believes--it is our responsibility to correspond ourselves to objective reality. Modernity has inverted this, and made man the measure of all things, wherein man gets to decide for himself what is right and wrong. When man thinks he is free to do as he pleases, he just ends up controlling other men. Take contraception; yes, we can control whether we get pregnant or not--but the children born after this age simply become, rather than gifts of God to be appreciated, slaves to to the whims and desires of their parents.

As for your comment that God gives us free will to choose to live our lives the way we wish, this is true. However, there are right and wrong choices that we can make, and just because God allows it, it does not mean that he supports every choice we make. The point of the Garden of Eden myth is that when we use our freedom to disobey God, we end up making ourselves unhappy.

Feel free to respond again. And, reveal yourself if you wish. I do not mind discussion off ideas :-)

10:53 PM  
Anonymous Peter Henneveld said...

Yes, God gave us free will. But this free will comes to an end where the free will of another human being begins. In regarding "spare embryos" as material from which one can take what one needs in order to do stem cell research, one denies the humanity of another human being, taking away his or her rights, such as the right to life, the right and opportunity to exercise free will. Man cannot use his free will in order to limit or completely suppress the free will of another human being.
As for the argument in favor of separation between religion and state: While it is a fact that this argument is used in almost every instance to excuse immoral actions, it is also true that religion and state affairs are separated. However, this separation is not an "either-or" kind of opposition, as if by making decisions based on religion (or divine law), one would have to step out of state affairs. Divine law is always superior to any other law, be it natural law or instituted law. Anonymous said that "in giving us free will, God gave us the ability to choose our lives." Not every choice is right, and if I'd count every single occasion on which I have made a wrong choice, I'd never come to an end. Nevertheless, I have made a choice - whether it was right or wrong, the outcome will reveal. There are wrong choices, and they are also covered by the free will. "In giving us free will, God gave us the ability to choose our lives." OUR lives, not the lives of others. We certainly are capable of doing so, yet we do not have the right. For instance, "pro-choice" is an excuse for making a choice we do not have the right to make.
Divine law vs. state law? Religious life vs. political life? Is that really the question? "In God We Trust" - why do we print these words on our dollar bills and imprint them on our coins when in real life, we have lost this trust in God - which we prove by making wrong choices?

8:52 PM  

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