What about Stem Cell Research?
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
"The preacher sought to find out acceptable words:
and that which was written was upright, even words of truth." (Ecclesiastes 12:10)
Stem cell research and utilization is much in the news. Since it involves the "harvesting" of living human tissue, everyone recognizes the difficult ethical questions involved. I suggest that a creationist viewpoint is necessary for proper decisions.
Human stem cells are those embryonic cells which result from the uniting of human egg and sperm and the first few cell divisions to follow. These magnificent cells carry the potential to construct any type of cell—flesh, blood, bone, teeth, heart, liver, hair, etc. Specialized growth comes later as proteins and enzymes trigger their differentiation and specific development. By harvesting the original stem cells before their specialization and by controlling their environment and later growth, medical science hopes to be able to regenerate damaged tissue in patients.
Biologists know that life comes from life—that there is no time during which life ceases and then restarts—thus, the inescapable conclusion that the new life begins at conception. In humans, life does not "begin" after the first trimester, or when the fetus could survive outside the womb. The only defensible, logical position is that it begins at conception. The cessation of that life must be called death, and its willful death constitutes murder.
Creationists additionally recognize human life as "the image of God," to be valued and protected. To destroy purposefully the image of God reveals an underlying attitude toward God Himself. Humans, healthy or unhealthy, young or old, born or unborn, deserve this protection.
Thus the question, "Should the stem cells of an unborn human be harvested to save the life of an ill human?" is fraught with difficult decisions. Should one life be valued over another?
While Christian/creationists can hardly support murder, we do support medical research and treatment of the infirm. Surely there must be a better, less destructive way. An analogy might help put the issue in perspective. Hopefully, all reasonable people would oppose "harvesting" the healthy heart of a living but unwilling individual to save the life of one in need of a heart transplant. Is this any different from harvesting an unborn's cells to save another? I think not.
There's a better alternative. In adult humans there remains the possibility of triggering certain cells to return to their stem cell capabilities. Likewise, umbilical cords retain much of this versatility. Who knows what other options are present? Let's look for them rather than focusing on killing the unborn.
Much of this destructive impulse derives from possible huge profits as well as personal pride. But I think the issue goes deeper for many. Evolution has often been exposed on these pages as the anti-God religion. It has justified untold brutality and death throughout the millennia, including racism, the holocaust, abortion, etc. Could we not conclude that hatred for the "image of God in man" is a major doctrine of this religion, and destruction of that "image" its sacrament? Nothing else explains the fervor with which it is demanded and the unwillingness to consider options.
Cite this article: John D. Morris, Ph.D. 2001. What about Stem Cell Research?. Acts & Facts. 30 (11).