Tuesday, July 25, 2006

EU to fund stem cells - Europe - International Herald Tribune

EU to fund stem cells

Stephen Hawking, one of the world's best-known scientists, who suffers from motor neurone disease, lashed out Monday at what he called the "reactionary" forces in the United States and Europe that are trying to ban research on stem cells from human embryos.

Hawking said banning the use of stem cells from human embryos was the equivalent of opposing the use of donated organs from dead people.

"The fact that the cells may come from embryos is not an objection because the embryos are going to die anyway," he told the newspaper The Independent in London. "It is morally equivalent to taking a heart transplant from a victim of a car accident."

Read the full article here


The Hedonese said...

IMHO, the argument that "they are going to die anyway" is flimsy...

Who is NOT going to die anyway? hehehe...

The difference between an accident victim and an embryo destroyed for research is tat the embryo's life/death is not accidental... It's intentional. And unlike the accident victim, the embryo (technically) can be saved.

So to make the analogy work with intentionality, this accident has to be preplanned by the organ receipient AND though the accident victim could be saved, he took the organ anyway and in the process take his life.

Just my 2 dimes :)

jacksons said...

Dave buddy,

I think you didn’t quite get what Hawkins was talking about – he was talking about the extra embryos that are thrown away from IVF’s on a weekly basis. In a normal process of IVF, and least 2-3 embryos are thrown away after one embryo has been successfully put back into the womb. This to me is also the tricky part where Christians have to be consistent – how come we don’t oppose IVF, which kills embryos all the time? Can we face the childless couple and deny them their dream?

Personally I have no problems with Embryos being destroyed at the blastocyst stage as I consider them a clump of stem cells with the potential to become a human only if they are in the right environment. Should we modify the environment, we can turn the stem cells into any other organ one day. In the position I take, the start of human life is the granulocyte, embedded on the uterus wall and giving instructions for the building of the placenta.

As for Koukl’s argument that since we can’t point out which is the starting point – I think there are many good schools of thought in modern science has done fairly well in pointing out a good solid and moral position of the beginning of human – that is later than the standard evangelical blastocyst position.

jacksons said...

Don't miss Dr. Alex's article on this issue;


The Hedonese said...

Hmmm.. i think Greg Koukl and Scott Kluscendorf wud not say we absolutely dunno where a human, living organism starts... They wud give scientific and philosophical reasons why it starts at conception

As for IVF, I think evangelicals are being consistent here ie we do not oppose the procedure itself, (which is not immoral) but we do think Christians oughta plan ahead in view tat the embryos are human, not to 'waste' them.

So u prayerfully do not plan to 'throw away' any (human) embryos... find alternatives like letting these 2-3 'extra' ones get adopted by other childless couples who may not afford it for example. Or u go against the 'normal' process by not fertifilising more than enuff...

If we are talking abt human lives here, the element of cost, hassle and risk should be kept in perspective here.

This element of intentionality is missing from Hawking's analogy too

But of course, the issue is "What is the embryo? Human or not?"

If the embryo is not human until it gets the "right" environment, then throwing or destroying 'iy' is a non-issue.

But wat if 'changing environments' does not change the ontological status of our humanness? Just as I was no more human inside my mother's womb than outside :)

alwyn said...

i think a good way forward would be for those who oppose stem cell research (on moral/ethical grounds) to take definite steps to help those most in need (emotional, financial, etc.) of such research.

This would take the issue beyond the argumentation impasse and into the domain of real support, encouragement, compassion for ppl like Hawking (who is unlikely to see 'pro-life' arguments as anything more than cold irrelevance, however logically 'tight').

I think this is the challenge for "Christian ethics". To be a community so in love with God and united for the good of people in need (irregardless of ideology), that one's actions shout louder than any words can.

Dave said...

Thanks for pointing tat dimension of the issue, bro... In fact those who oppose *one type* of stem cell research which destroys embryos do have a simple, compassionate and viable alternative... do stem cell research on adult stem cells!

It seems that "adult stem cells found in the bone marrow can be coaxed to provide “an abundant
and accessible” supply of nerve cells for the brain. This confirms earlier studies suggesting that adult stem cells are not restricted, but more flexible than previously thought (i.e., able to develop into other types of tissue)"

Now, it must be said also tat in order to fight cancer, a community is not necessarily morally obligated to also fight against AIDS... one may still speak openly against the destruction of human lives in embryos even if one does not also fork out money as donations to Mr Hawking!

If one has to do tat, wouldn't it be nice if those who support stem cell research for whatever ethical/scientific reasons wud also move beyond the argumentations and provide some financial and emotional supports to people in need like myself! :)

alwyn said...

Thanks for the info about adult stem-cells...this is very new to me, :)

I can understand your arguments and I agree that there is a true and godly way of treating embryos. However, I also think that the embryo debate (its ontological status, personhood status, developmental possibilities, etc.) cannot be divorced from the social/emotional/physical crisis of abortion or (in Hawking's case) severe handicaps, surrounding it.

I guess I'm urging us to look at the argument at a second level, to ask ourselves if the ontological status of embryos (even if AGREED TO by all parties!) is what should drive the Christian response to the issue(?).

But for the record, I'm actually with David on the embryo-status thing i.e. I think the reasons for ascribing adequate 'human' AND 'person' status to the embryo outweigh those against.

The Hedonese said...

amen, bro! i do agree in the case of abortion for example, tat christians offer real alternatives like crisis pregnancy centers which help in child adoption, counselling, practical helps to pregnant teens and so on...

Evangelical churches in US have been doing this level 2 help.

Proclaim and demonstrate the truth in word and deeds...

Wat i'd like to highlight is another angle (3rd level?) of the discussion... tat often among activists, "To oppose X, u must also do Y and Z" is often used as a rhetoric tat u have no right to talk abt X until u do this and that

for example, we never require supporters of embryonic stem cell research to provide financial/emotional compensations to victimised embryos before they earn their right to speak their minds :)

Glad to see the convergence here

From Biola said...


by that logic, why dun they use children in africa and india for research since they are dying anyway?

What nonsense!! We should know better than that

Dave said...

Ya, we need to be aware of not only the content and person who made the statements in press...

we also need to be aware of the rhetorical tactics and language used to camouflage the real issues.

The issue is the human status of embryos. Is 'it' human or not?

Instead of doing tat, people who disagree are labelled 'reactionary'

Emotive analogies like "taking a heart transplant from a victim of a car accident" misses the point.

the victim of a car accident is DEAD! hehehe... while the embryo is alive.

and yes, we dun nid to be a physics scientist to know tat!

jacksons said...

Good one Dave! Amen! Though I still think that calling an embryo in a petri dish a human being is an over-simplification, I think your thoughts and summary on comment #10 is just sharp and great.