Along with the rest of the nation, ICR mourned the recent death of former President Ronald Reagan. From all accounts, he was truly a dedicated Christian, as well as creationist. We will see him again.
Surrounding his death has been a clamor for increased spending for stem cell research, touting its potential medical benefits, including treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, from which President Reagan suffered. One of his sons even addressed the Democratic National Convention with this message.
To be sure, the disease is tragic. In fact, my own mother suffers from Alzheimer’s and for several years has been slipping into her own special world. (Parenthetically my father’s sacrificial care for her, honoring the vow he once made to her, has been an inspiration to the whole family.) An effective treatment would be such a blessing to many. No one resists efforts to discover such a treatment.
But “Stem Cell Research” is a multifaceted concept which needs to be dissected for a clear understanding. Stem cells are potent cells which can be stimulated to grow into any type of cell, including bone, skin, muscle, organ, brain, etc. In theory, they could even regrow a damaged brain in an Alzheimer’s patient.
There are two basic sources of stem cells. In an early embryo, the cells have not yet differentiated into their specific forms, and can be “harvested” for other uses. Unfortunately, the embryo (i.e., baby) dies. Early attempts to utilize stem cells in needy patients have yielded questionable results.
Stem cells can also be obtained from an adult donor, with absolutely no harm done. They can be obtained from various organs and even from the “throw away” placenta and umbilical cord. Stem cells reinserted into the donor’s own body after stimulation and multiplication even circumvents the rejection usually faced. Adult stem cell research is widely pursued in Europe, with promising results.
In America, however, the clamor is overwhelmingly for embryonic stem cell research, with adult stem cell research barely mentioned. Why is this?
Remember, this is a country which dotes on abortion. Acceptance of abortion has become the “litmus test” for politicians and judges. Those insisting on abortion also insist on sexual freedom for teens and oppose abstinence education. Slaying the unborn has seemingly become a “sacrament” in some circles. Similarly, assisted suicides are championed and unproductive elderly are in mortal jeopardy in some cases.
Without denying that circumstances can sometimes be tragic, and burdens borne by loved ones unthinkably heavy, I suggest we all remember that every human being bears “the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). None of us is the exact image, but we all carry it. How can one imperfect representation of that Image deem another imperfect representation unworthy of life?
Are we not justified in concluding that a “cult of death” has sprung up among us? Those fascinated with and insisting upon death all seemingly share a common perspective—rejecting the Biblical truth that we are created by God in His image. This leads to more than simply not honoring and protecting that Image, but a malicious desire to mar and destroy that reminder of the Creator’s authority over His creation. As Christians, and especially as creationists, we must march to a different drummer.