Embryonic Stem Cell Research
I got emails at the last minute from people who wanted me to post on my web site a more detailed, more nuanced position on embryonic stem cell research. We exchanged several emails, because I wanted to understand their side of the issue. Their case is:
Wouldn't you have to agree about the sanctity of life and that opening the flood gates to embryonic stem cell research carries with it many risks of creating embryos to do research on vs. creating embryos for the purpose God intended (to create human beings)?First of all, consider "God's intentions"
I think the question really comes down to protecting the sanctity of life. Doing research on already existing embryos that have no chance at life now is different from allowing embryos to be created for the sole purpose of research.
We don't want to see embryos being created for the sole purpose of being sold into the research market and, in turn, being killed. Killing a child for the purpose of research is wrong.
When Albert Einstein said, "God does not play dice with the universe."
Niels Bohr replied, "Who is Einstein to tell God what to do?"
God made scientists, gave them their brilliant minds with which to explore and understand various facets of the universe. Perhaps God intended for them to do this research.
Second, consider "the sole purpose of research"
Research for the purpose of curing diabetes, curing Parkinson's disease, curing multipule sclerosis, and a lot of other possibilities. Not research just 'cuz we're curious. In order to get funding for their research, scientists write grant proposals explaining why they want to do the research. If they don't have a good reason, they are denied funding. The scientists believe they can end a lot of human suffering with this research. If life is sacred, then isn't alleviating suffering a noble purpose? Is a life of constant pain and crippling deformities so sacred? If life is sacred, isn't the attempt to cure life-threatening diseases a way to protect the sanctity of life?
Third, compare "embryo" to "child".
Any time a researcher combines human sperm and ovum in a laboratory petri dish, thus creating an embryo, does that researcher have a moral obligation to implant that embryo in the womb of a woman, so that it can develop into a baby and be born? If that's your real concern, why limit your discussion to stem cells? Research in birth defects and research in fertility, I suspect, often mix sperm and ovum under various conditions. How many women are eager to be the mother of a science experiment? It's only recent advances in in-vitro fertilization that make it possible to confuse such an embryo with a child. In-vitro fertilization is what opened the floodgates to these moral dilemmas. Is this the way God intended children to be conceived?
Finally, "sold into the research market."
I share your concern that greedy people might use their patents and other exclusive trade mechanisms to extract excessive profits from researchers who do their work to further the public interest.