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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Why do we oppose embryonic stem cell research?

It's come to mind a few times before, and this statement from Dr. Markus Grompe, director of Oregon Health & Science University's Stem Cell Center since 2004 nails it right -- painfully, as I've never come right out and said it before:

The reason we object to embryonic stem-cell research is not because the cells are not good or the adult cells are better. The real reason is that we have moral and ethical objections. We have to stick to our guns. Just because a medical procedure is immoral doesn't mean it will not work.

I've been sticking to the "embryonic stem cell treatments have never worked but dozens of adult stem cell treatments have" slogan for years because it's easier to cite that. I feel more comfortable citing empiricals to non-believers. But Dr. Grompe is right: it's far more courageous -- and utterly important -- to declare what is not so easy to say. We oppose it because it is wrong, regardless of how effective or ineffective it is.

On the other hand, I cannot shake this feeling that the science behind embryonic stem cell research are futile simply because nature rebels against it. The physical universe is not the chaos that some, particularly atheists, declare it to be, whether they are aware of it or not. This does not square with the evidence. Physical laws of nature exist, and everything in the physical universe complies with those laws consistently and constantly. Certain realities even in the field of medical research have yet to be bent to man's will, such as the propensity of tissues, e.g., grown from embryonic stem cells, to become cancerous when transplanted to a host other than its own source. This is the primary hindrance, the way I understand it, to embryonic stem cell treatments: cancer cells are created in the patient because.. well.. that's just how it seems to go.

Still, since I am no expert in the medical sciences, I had best keep to what I know more about. Embryonic stem cell research is wrong simply because it destroys countless human lives -- that of the embryo. Even if intending to save other human lives, it simply does not square. It is one thing to voluntarily sacrifice one's own life to save another, it is quite another thing to make that decision for someone else.

[Full article here. Link found via the Curt Jester.]

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