The Expository Files

Stem Cells: Faulty Thinking Exposed

{I wrote this article the day after the President's speech. I published the article to a list and sent it out through my Monday Message service. The response was entirely positive, and including some helpful comments I have appended below the article. -web}

Holding no credentials as a scientist, there is a natural restraint I have in addressing the stem cell issue that has consumed the news lately.

Objectively, I believe life begins at conception, so the weight of my thinking prompts great caution and resistance. I detest the possibility of saying anything that would favor the destruction of life, even at the earliest stages. Thus, I am opposed to the killing of human embryos to acquire anything, however promising it may be! And, I entertain serious reservations about "the slippery slope," that is, the probable future steps that could follow (gruesome industry of harvesting and destroying human embryos for medical use; cloning; selective breeding of humans, etc.). The limitations imposed by the President may afford us some encouragement here.

Subjectively, I want there to be hope and help for those who suffer daily with serious illness. My sister suffers with diabetes, and my step-father died after suffering with Alzheimer's disease. We can pray that the stem-cell advisory commission authorized by the President will yield promise, without any violation of human life. But we must guard our hearts and tongues against uninstructed emotions and vague, unexamined notions.

Throughout the debate, I've heard two arguments that concern me. Apart from the specific issue of stem cell acquisition and use, these arguments seem to me to be unsound:

"Much good will be done; many who are ill may enjoy a cure." This argues from the anticipated consequences. The essence of this is - if there is a good result, the means and methods to that result are justified. Christians should shun this kind of thinking, reject it and never use it to prove anything. We must never argue from the consequences, but from the principles involved. Those who advocate, "let us do evil that good may come," deserve just condemnation (see Rom. 3:8).

Many have said, "if the embryos are going to be destroyed anyway, why not use them for medical good." On the face of it, this sounds reasonable: use them to help somebody instead of throwing them away! But this assumes what isn't established, that there is no moral wrong in throwing them away. A wrong is never made right, by another wrong (see Isa. 5:20)! The core issues and principles relative to human life must have priority. The argument is, "a decision has already been made" relative to human life. Perhaps, but shouldn't we raise the question, was that prior decision correct?
Ronald Reagan performed a great service in his statement of the issue: "...anyone who doesn't feel sure whether we are talking about a second human life should clearly give life the benefit of the doubt. If you don't know whether a body is alive or dead, you would never bury it. I think this consideration itself should be enough for all of us to insist on protecting the unborn."

May we never stop thinking of human life as a person made in God's image. Jesus died to redeem that life!

Comments I Received In Response:
What most people do not know and the tightly controlled (socialist new world order) media will not tell you is the following interesting fact:

Scientists do not have to get stem cells from aborted fetuses because anyone can be a donor; yes, you and I while alive can donate stem cells.

Stem cells for research into specific diseases are best taken from those who already have the disease. Why take healthy cells and expose them to disease then try to cure them? That is crazy!

The whole stem cell debate (debacle) is designed for one and only one purpose: to impress upon the general population that abortion (murder) is ok because it may help someone else in the long run.

I have a Ph.D. although not specifically in these areas. I have taken several physiology courses, and in fact, my M.S. degree was in Veterinary Physiology. I totally agree with your summation of the Biblical values at stake. I also take issue from a practical point of view, because rarely does science ever deliver on its promises. Even in our lifetimes (I'll turn 50 in October) we have seen many advances in science and medicine. However, science and medicine have made some pretty bold claims and much money has been spent on "promising research" only to find out it was just another "dry hole".

Also, as I get older (and I pray earnestly more mature as a Christian!!); I find life on this side of eternity has so very little to offer me when compared to the other side! (2 Cor. 4:16-5:2). If stems cells don't involve the taking of life and can ease someone's pain, fine. But, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

I appreciate your article. I am against this research. He has now set the country up for a great difficulty in banning abortion. Even though he has approved the use of tissue for already aborted babes, what happens when the existing lines become depleted or there are some breakthroughs demanding more stem cell lines. Then there will be greater difficulty in banning abortions because people will say they need abortions to provide the stem cell lines.

By Warren E. Berkley
The Front Page
From Expository Files 8.9; September 2001