Human-pig Embryos: A Question of Morality
by Brian Thomas, M.S. *
This article is part 3 of 3 in a series.
Researchers at the University of Warwick are attempting to develop human-pig hybrid embryos. The project's application received approval from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the U.K.'s fertility watchdog agency, in January 2008.
Dr. Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat science spokesman, told the Telegraph, "This application is a further indication of the interest in this sort of research by UK scientists, the decision of the HFEA to issue a license following stringent checks demonstrates that it is considered both necessary and ethical."1
However, no reasons are given for why it is necessary or why it is ethical. Since the experts are interested in it, and the HFEA has licensed it, this is evidently considered sufficient justification to pursue the project.
This is an argument from authority, a logical fallacy where an assertion is deemed true because of the authority of the person asserting it.2 Harris' rationale also may reflect a relativistic morality, where good and right is defined by majority opinion.
There are serious problems with relative morality.3 First, it is possible, as in the case of Nazi Germany, for the majority vote to be disastrously wrong. Second, while there are differences in perspective and practice, there is objective knowledge of the same basic moral laws in all people groups, indicating the presence of a universal moral law.4
This is evidenced, for example, by the fact that tribalistic cannibalism (murder) is always accompanied by an atoning ritual. Why have a ritual, unless there is an underlying sense that some moral violation has been committed? Knowledge of a universal moral law is also shown when people react defensively or incredulously when they are wronged. This very reaction betrays an innate knowledge of right and wrong. So, since there is a universal moral law, it must have been authored by a Lawgiver, as all laws and all information have been authored. This matches the biblical description of our Creator.5
We cannot deem what is right or wrong based on the authority of one human or human agency, or even a majority. The only complete law that has ever existed for the benefit of every part of creation, especially humans, is found in the everlasting Word of God.
- Highfield, R. Human-pig hybrid embryos given go ahead. Posted on Telegraph.co.uk July 1, 2008c accessed July 2, 2008.
- List of fallacies. Wikipedia. Accessed July 7, 2008.
- Beckwith, F. and G. Koukl. 1998. Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Midair. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. See the chapter titled "Monkey Morality" starting on page 151.
- Romans 2:14.
- Exodus 20:1-17.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.
Article posted on July 11, 2008.
To read the first article in the series, go to "U.K. Grants Approval for Human-pig Hybrid Embryos."
To read the second article in the series, go to "Understanding the Stem Cell Debate."