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Stem Cell Ethics

QUESTION: Stem cell ethics - Is embryonic stem cell research ethical?


Stem cell research has become controversial because it focuses attention on moral and theological issues as well as medical ones.

When we consider stem cell ethics, we immediately find we are balancing what medical good might come from using embryonic stem-cell lines against the possible harm, not only to an embryo, but to a society that already may place too little value on human life.

Further complicating the issue is our very view of God. Some Christians believe that God Himself has blessed mankind with the ability to understand and act on complicated scientific matters. They feel we would be poor stewards of these gifts if we did not use them.

Others believe we are "playing God" if we delve into these mysteries; that these scientific "advances" are little more than extensions of Adam and Eve's ill-fated choice to eat of the tree of knowledge.

Christian theologian C.S. Lewis warns against separating nature from God in his book The Abolition of Man:

"We reduce things to mere Nature in order that we may 'conquer' them. We are always conquering Nature, because 'nature' is the name for what we have to some extent conquered. The price of conquest is to treat a thing as mere Nature. . . .The stars do not become Nature till we can weigh and measure them: the soul does not become Nature till we can psycho-analyse her.

". . .But as soon as we take the final step of reducing our own species to the level of mere Nature, the whole process is stultified, for this time the being who stood to gain and the being who has been sacrificed are one and the same. . . It is like the famous Irishman who found that a certain kind of stove reduced his fuel bill by half and thence concluded that two stoves of the same kind would enable him to warm his house with no fuel at all. . . . [I]f man chooses to treat himself as raw material, raw material he will be."

We must be about more than just "doing good." We are called to discern God's will as best we can and implement it. We should be very careful when it comes to tampering with the very fabric of life.

Learn more about Stem Cell Research!

What do you think?
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