Stem Cell Research ???

Fred M. Fariss

It is said: "That God is sovereign. That he has a plan for every detail of the universe and for all that is in it. This includes the personal life of every person. Nothing occurs in the universe until it comes before the review of God." Furthermore, It is said: "That God executes his plan through his directive or permissive will." However, in the final outcome, the directive will of God reigns supreme i.e., God has his way. It is said: "That God moves in the world by the exercise of his directive will. His motive for the move is - 1. To give blessing. 2. To teach his creatures lessons. 3. To punish for disobedience."

An example of this operative is a story of a man born blind. There were philosophical questions that traveled around the village. "Who sinned to cause this man to be born blind - him or his parents?" A traveling Rabi answered the questions with this retort. "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."

A close study of moral and religious teaching will disclose the anomaly between the implications of the teachings and the actualities of life.

In the light of the above considerations, let us first look at the realities of life on an every day plane. There are the medical scientists that are willing to delve into the mysteries of the universe, taking upon themselves a privilege only granted by their own curiosity and arrogance. The scientists only discover the secrets of the universe, but as they make the discoveries, it changes their role of research from scientist to deity. There are ethical questions raised today that never existed two hundred years or more ago before some of the mysteries were unveiled. It was not the intent of the scientists to set themselves up as a god, but the practical outcome of scientific research created the phenomenon. The destiny of life, the quality of life, the extension and preservation of life, fell within their control, like it or not. Now, scientists and people in general find themselves in a moral dilemma. Creating life where it naturally would not have occurred, extending life where it would have not occurred, and ending life by a simple withdrawal of a feeding tube, has elevated medical scientists to thrones of power that is both awesome and scary.

What has made all of this possible? Research. When one looks at what has been accomplished over the years, the benefits that we personally enjoy, it moves one to be thankful that we are alive at this point in history. We live longer, have a better quality of life. The possibilities for the future are staggering when one considers what might be accomplished through further research. In the near future, there is the hope that all of the major diseases will be conquered. There is also the possibility that humans will be able to live to be one hundred and twenty years old or more!

Think of the price that had to be paid to make the medical discoveries that we have made. First, thousand of animals were laboratory specimens that made the research possible for discover. Think of how they must have suffered. We owe those animals a huge debt of gratitude. Immediately, the PETA people will up rise and say that using those animals for research was utterly immoral. While we are at it, let's look at the religious dimension, in the use of animals as sacrifices, ordered by none other then God himself. It was the laboratory of religion. The animal sacrifice went on for at least five thousand years. Those cute little lambs were laid upon a altar, their throats were cut and their blood sprinkled around as a religious symbol. Obviously, in those religious rituals, animal life was of no value. There will be those who will say that their value was in what they symbolically represented in the coming of a savior who would die as a wounded lamb upon the altar of the cross.

How could scientists and religionists be so heartless as to disregard the intrinsic value of animal life? What about God? In all of his infinite wisdom, could not he have found another way? Answer this question and maybe you might be able to come up with a viable understanding of stem cell research.

Medical scientists have drifted into another morass of their exploration. They have dissociated themselves from the thesis of natural creation to embrace a theory invented by a man, as the foundational bases for their research. How were they able to make so many valid and productive discoveries where the foundation of their research is flawed - predicated upon organic evolution? One would think if the medical scientists were believing that God was active in his creation with the exercise of his directive and permission will, that consulting him - his perspective about creation - would be the most wise and sensible thing to do.

There was a time, as early as the fifteenth century, that scientist in general - mainly the clergy - took the Bible literally and espoused a theory scientifically that was far more incredible than evolution. Their foundational belief was the flat earth theory. Because of this, Columbus was forbidden to make his voyage. It would be disobedience toward God and the outcome would be tragic because they would fall off the edge of the earth.

The medical scientists have come up with a new venture into the land of discovery - stem cell research. The animals have been given a reprieve. They have turn their research upon their own kind. How sinister can one get? Human life is now discounted to the level of the value of animal life. Does this mean that human sacrifices are not very far down the road?

This is where the "anti" people come in on the stage of life. The "anti" people are a barrel full of contradictions. Many of them say that their view of morality represents God's point of view. What about the lambs? What about all the men, women and children in those cities that God told Israel to kill. Sounds like ethnic cleansing. What about all the women born with the inability to bare children? Why are those women, their husbands and the medical boys playing around with the will of God? God has a plan as to how the destiny of every person should work out. When the medical doctors, husband and wife interfere with the natural process, they are interfering with the directive of God. The implications here are far more serious then what to do with stem cell research. The morality issue has gone up to a higher level.

It is interesting to listen to people when they pray. In most cases, it sounds like the person has a wind-up God whom he tells what to do. The prayer is full of commands to God. It seems like these same people carry the idea of what they want God to do over into their experience of life. They create a system of morality which includes and excludes what they want and don't want conveniently. Their system can be altered when its beneficial to them. For example, a mother can be one hundred per cent against abortion until her daughter gets pregnant outside of marriage. People who are against stem cell research will go to a medical doctor whose medical education is predicated upon organic evolution and the use of animals for research. Here is the big one. The person is critically ill - terminal - the doctor offers treatment discovered in the laboratory where they used stem cell research. Morality goes out the door. The person immediately accepts the treatment .There is nothing new here. My question is: "Why did those clergy give up their beliefs so easily in the flat earth theory? I still believe in flat earth theory because it appears to be so - because there is that reference to "the four corners of the earth."

Most of those people who are against stem cell research, are also against abortion, birth control and capital punishment. Some religious leaders believe and practice that if a woman is in labor giving birth to a child, and the situation rises where both the mother and child is in jeopardy for survival, than the mother is the one who should die. This is a god-like decision made long before the woman became pregnant. The weight of the argument of the "anti" people is declared to be upon the value of human life. Because of its intrinsic value, the fetus has the right to live. Where the paradox lies that those very same people who claim their belief in the value of human life, are also, the ones who define the nature of the fetus to be flawed even before it is born. The point is to preserve the fetus because it has worth so you can later discredit that its essence lacks worth since it is flawed. The fetus is declared to be by nature sinful, depraved and alienated from God. If this fetus comes to full term and is born, and never finds redemption, it will die and spend eternity in Hell. Hell is a place of some form of punishment for being conceived. There are various opinions on the idea of life after death, depending upon which religion one might be aligned. Once the fetus is born, the course of the life of the developing fetus is one of discount as a human being - a kind of progressive abortion - which hurts a lot more because of a conscious awareness of its affect going on in the life of the recipient. For many people, their life is a Hell on earth before they get to the Hell of eternity. One might say, what has all of this got to do with anything? It is the paradox. Thousands of years passed before the emergency of medical science. In that time period, many suffered because of ignorance. The God of the creation just arbitrarily chose to keep all the secrets to himself and allowed man to stumble through life in a primitive mode of thinking. When science began to emerge, it started on a tract which ran parallel with the present knowledge of the time. At first, there was a powerful conflict between the two systems of perspective. As time went on, the scientific people moved over to their own little corner and basely ignored the primitive teaching. From time to time, there were moments of conflict. However, the scientists learned that their task was not to re-educate the religious system, but to discover the reality of how and why things work in the universe the way they do. We, the people of the world are the lucky ones who have become the beneficiaries of this legacy.

Miscarriage is a natural form of abortion. With God in charge of all things, and he destined the miscarriage, there seems to be some kind of conditional recognition of the event. When the doctors realize the fetus has no brain, should they take every measure to "save" the existence of the fetus? With the advancement of the technology of medical science, it may be very well possible to bring the "no brain" fetus to full term and hence, to birth. Who profits from this episode? The doctors? Who might get an ego surge because they were so resourceful with their knowledge and skills? Or would it be the parents, who would be able to be center stage for the rest of their lives as they care for what amounts to a fetus who could never develop beyond being a vegetable? Without extra ordinary measures, left to the natural course of things, the fetus would take care of itself by surrendering to the process of letting go - and die.

Just think, at the Jones Institute, in Norfolk, Virginia, there are many frozen embryos. Who gave those scientists the authority and right to create them in the first place? The need of so many childless couples created a situation that made it right to create embryos. Are these doctors, and their clients, playing God? Who says who can create embryos? Who says what you can do with the embryos after you have created them? Why is it so noble to create embryos for childless couples and not create them for other purposes as well? The moralists will say: it is right because we are creating life and promoting life. They would say that using stem cell for research is taking life. The question is: are the doctors at the Jones Institute just as guilt of the abuse of the value for human life by creating embryos in such a careless fashion to put the embryos up for sale? It this some form of prostitution of embryos? One might say, who cares, it provides opportunity for childless couples to have a baby - even if it takes five or six episodes at five thousand dollars a shot. Somewhere in all of this there seems to be some self-serving motive. If childless couples really and sincerely want a baby, the world is full of them. They can adopt one. There is the nasty word no one wants to hear.

The dilemma of the childless couples has created another dilemma more complex and far reaching in its scope. Society allowed the research boys to find a way to meet the needs of the childless couples. Obviously, these research people have very curious and enquiring minds. But they also love the taste of the accomplishment when they are able to unravel the mysteries of the universe. As we all know, humans in the fifteenth century were not satisfied with the discoveries that Columbus made. Once they had evidence, that indeed, the earth was actually round, then the challenge was there to circumvent the globe. And so they did.

There was the unraveling of the DNA. The successful reproductive procedures. The experiment in cloning. The accomplished insights into the gnome structure. And now, gene research. The taste is sweet. The medical scientists can look back into history as to how far they have come in the discover of how the human organism function. Many lives have been saved. The quality of human life has improved greatly. With that tract record, the medical scientists look for ward to new hopes and discoveries that can eliminate many of the dread diseases off the planet Earth.

One popular radio preacher said that God what never let man get to the moon He preached this often during the time the space program was doing research and preparing to go to the moon. When man landed on the moon, that preacher never apologized and admitted what he said was wrong.

The Big Controversy

When is a rose a rose and not a dandelion? The point of discussion is the state of being rather then the existence of being. The qualities of the characteristics that define the existence of being is progressive. This means that the organism goes through stages of being which manifest itself in each stage of being as a state of being. As the stages of being develop, the states of being changed to become something that did not exist in the previous stages. The collective development of stages must be present for the organism to come full term in its evolution. If something interferes with the process of the development and the growth stops, then the organism remains in the state where the development stop. Wherever the point of cessation is short of the full term of development, then the organism is short of being what it was potentially designed to be. At the point of impregnation begins the potential what the organism can be. That potential is realized actually as the evolution of development takes place. The potential and the actual are regulated by the process in the development of the stages. Each stage is defined by its state of being in the moment of the stage - it is in - at the time of development. What the organism can be potentially is not the same as what the organism is in the state of whatever stage it might be in at the time. The organism has a significant different intrinsic value in each stage of development because the extent of its state of being is different then in its previous stages. The collective value of the organism emerges as the organism develops through its potential states, adding a new state of being to each stage. For example, the embryo must develop to a certain stage with its actualized state of being before the fetus can survive outside of the womb. This is a given. If through natural causes - illness or therapeutic abortion - should occur, then the fetus will die. If at a later stage, a trauma should occur, deliberate or otherwise, the fetus will die if the organism is damaged in any way that interferes with being able to autonomously survive.

The crucial question is: at what point has the fetus reached its full development in the range of its capacity to be a human being? For example, if in the last stage before birth, the organism is without a brain, is this organism a human being since certain characteristics of the state of being is missing. Remember this is not a discussion about abortion or late term abortion. This discussion is about stem cell research. Those frozen test tubes of embryos are embryos that are also frozen in time of both the potential stage of development, but also the presence of the states of being since there are no stages for them to actualize in at the time. What is occurring is a impregnated ovum with sperm that is existing on a low level of energy. If unfrozen without being placed a viable womb, it will die. This puts us back on the morality tract, what right do the doctors at the Jones Institute have to freeze the impregnated ovum to begin with? Answer this question and you answer the question about stem cell research.

Joe and Alice came to the Jones Institute in Norfolk, Virginia. They are childless. They had hope for a "miracle" that the medical wizards might do because God was not able or willing to perform for them. They begin the experiment at five thousand dollars a hit. It took five "hits" before there was success in getting an embryo to take. Four of the embryos were ejected by the rejection process of the body - four embryos down the drain, so to speak. Four embryos died with all of their potential. Who is sad for them? It does not matter. What matters is the pursuit of getting a woman pregnant. The cost of the experiment, the number of fetus involved is not important on the priority scale. With the success of an implant comes happiness and rejoicing. The wizards are happy. The couple is happy. And most people who hear about the results are happy. No one thinks or remembers the other four fetus who did not make it. They have no glory.

Baby Thalia goes full term and is delivered without complications. The dilemma of childlessness has been solved. All of the family is elated, particularly, the parents and the grandparents. It looked like for a while that the family was going to be under the curse of childlessness. But the medical wizards came with their research and solved the problem. For most childless couples, the ethics and moral implications doesn't make any difference. What is important for them is an opportunity and possibility to make their long time dream come true.

As is the case, time passed for Thalia, her parents and grandparents, with the usual development of childhood. There was much fulfillment with the first time pleasure of happiness and joy as Thalia went through the growing up stages.

Then one day it happened. When Thalia was ten years old, she became very ill. Joe and Alice took her to the emergency room. After many tests, it was determined that Thalia had a rare form of incurable cancer. It was inevitable that she would not live a full span of life. It is at this point that Joe and Alice decided to return to the medical wizards. The medical wizards were able to solve what, at the time, seemed an impossible undertaking. Surely, the wizards would be able to come up with a solution to this problem and save their "miracle" child. When they consulted with the doctors, they were utterly shocked to hear that the doctors could offer no cure. It was at that time that the doctors told Joe and Alice about their program to do stem cell research. They mentioned how the program was stopped by the government as a result of powerful lobbying in Washington, DC, by a right-wing element in the country. It was all because the lobbyist were ignorant of the dynamics of the environment in the early stages of the fetus. The doctors went on to say that many mysteries of the human organism are locked up in the early developmental phase of the fetus. If they had access to the fetus in that stage they would be able to unlock the secrets. The revelation of those secrets would be the means to preserve and extent human life. Joe and Alice said they were confused. "How was it possible for you to use those fetuses to make it possible for us to produce a child and not use the same means to find a cure for the cancer that is killing the very child you gave us?" The doctors said it is ignorance. The same ignorance that challenged Columbus about his trip around the world. It is the same ignorance that rejected the discovery that the earth rotates around the sun, rather than the contrary. Joe and Alice became very angry. "But this is the very survival of our precious child." "It does not matter, the importance of a system of morality is of more value than the survival of your child." retorted the doctors. Then Joe and Alice replied: "What about the four embryos that didn't take? Because they did not take, was that not a waste of life? Do we give more value to the fetus that took and disregard the ones that did not take of no importance? If those four fetus were used in an experiment of research to discover the cure for deadly diseases, would it not give those fetus the same elevation of importance?" The doctors responded: "That is the paradox of the dilemma. We kill off four fetus in order to find opportunity for one fetus to survive. It is a kind of Russian roulette. It is not a moral issue. It is an operative issue."

Joe and Alice asked the doctors what they could do in the meanwhile. The answer was nothing so far as Thalia was concerned. All those embryos sit in the laboratory are a waste so long as they are not being used as an instrument for research. The irony is the very instrument that was used to establish life is now by default being used to bring death.

If using the stem cell in research to discover the cure for the many dread diseases is unethical and therefore immoral, it is equally as unethical and immoral to use them as a vehicle for reproduction. In either case embryos will die. As a memorial to this stand down, let us remember all of the Thalias of the world, who were given the gift of life through embryo research, only to have that life taken away by refusal to further use stem cell research via embryos.

(C)2001 Fred M. Fariss All Rights Reserved