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Stem cells: Ethics before science

This year?s linkurl:Keystone meeting;http://www.keystonesymposia.org/Meetings/ViewMeetings.cfm?MeetingID=786 on stem cells -- surrounded by the dreamy mountains of Whistler, British Columbia -- started not with science, but with ethics. Specifically, the ethics of embryonic stem cell research, and what the scientists who study them need to remember. linkurl:Anne McLaren;http://www.cmgp.org.uk/research/people/mclaren_a.html of the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gordon Institute, Cambridge Uni

By | March 28, 2006

This year?s linkurl:Keystone meeting;http://www.keystonesymposia.org/Meetings/ViewMeetings.cfm?MeetingID=786 on stem cells -- surrounded by the dreamy mountains of Whistler, British Columbia -- started not with science, but with ethics. Specifically, the ethics of embryonic stem cell research, and what the scientists who study them need to remember. linkurl:Anne McLaren;http://www.cmgp.org.uk/research/people/mclaren_a.html of the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gordon Institute, Cambridge University, provided a basic overview of all of the ethical aspects to the work?a talk that lasted close to an hour. Some highlights: The "dishonesty" of unduly raising patients? hopes about the benefits of stem cells, whether it?s more or less ethical to create embryos versus using donated embryos, and research that has ethical impacts on society. A fascinating example of the latter: Creating gametes from pluripotent stem cells, perhaps enabling same sex couples to have a baby that is genetically from both parents, or a single parent to provide both egg and sperm. ("I would fine that a little difficult, but will my great-grandchildren?" she asked.) Her conclusion? That stem cell scientists are not ethicists, but they have more knowledge about stem cell science, and therefore a duty to explain what they are doing to the general public. McLaren told me after the talk that the meeting organizers asked her to start the meeting off by discussing the ethics of stem cell science. The remainder of the meeting is all science, she noted, and the ethical considerations provide an important backdrop for everything else to follow. It?s embryonic stem cell scientists? "responsibility to society" to always consider the ethical side of what they?re doing, she said.

Comments

Avatar of: Doyle Doss

Doyle Doss

Posts: 1

July 19, 2006

Perhaps now that the Stem Cell debate has heated up we can get this unique perspective on the ethics put inot the mix of the national debate.\n\nLife Begins When?\n\nI would like to bring a new perspective to the divisive debate surging around stem cell research by asking Christians, and non-Christians, this question: When does life begin?\n\nEvery Christian I have approached with this question has immediately replied, "With conception." And I have asked, "How do you know that?" And have received the same answer from all, "The Bible says so." "Oh," has been my reply, "where, exactly, does the Bible say that life begins with conception?" And no one has been able to show me where the Bible says that life begins with conception. I am usually quoted just this one verse as the authority, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." (Jeremiah 1:5 NKJ) And I am quick to point out that "formed you in the womb" does not say life begins with conception. And then I am sucked into the Ultimate Christian Rationale for when life begins, "Well, it is better to err on the side of caution . . ."\n\nWhy is better to make a mistake instead of getting it right? I believe the Bible does tell us when life begins, and it is not at conception! The Bible clearly states in Leviticus Chapter 17 Verse 11, "The life is in the blood" and in verse 14, "for the life of all flesh is its blood." And even earlier in God?s instruction to Noah, the Bible says, "you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood" (Gen. 9:4). And again in Deuteronomy 12:23, "the blood is the life."\n\nIn fact, from the Garden of Eden to the Book of Revelations the Bible is one Great Big Teaching on the importance and value of Blood. It is the shed Blood of Christ on the Cross that "makes" a person a Christian in the first place. Christianity is the ultimate sacrificial Blood-Based-Religion in the world! If there is no Blood, then there is no Life. No one in the Christian community has ever debated this point with me.\n\nAnd that is my point, if there is no blood, then there is no life! And it is many days after conception that a fertilized embryo can be said to have rudimentary blood cells. And if there is no blood, and "life is in the blood," then an embryo without blood cells has no life. If you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, if you believe that "life is in the blood," as the Holy Scriptures state, then embryos without blood cells should be made available for stem cell research because they have no life, and this national debate on embryonic stem cell research can be resolved and we can move on to other important issues of the day.\n\nAdditionally, in the normal course of things, it is several days after conception that an embryo arrives "in the womb," conception usually occurring in the fallopian tubes. God knows what He is saying when He says He formed us in the womb. By the time you arrived in the womb, or very shortly thereafter, you had blood, you had life, and you were subsequently formed and in due time brought forth into this world we all share.\n\nIt is quite easy to fall into the common trap of believing man?s doctrine and dogma to be more important than Scripture, especially if you have not read the Book. My informal survey of Christians finds that the majority have not read the Book they love to quote. Instead they allow someone else to tell them what the Bible "says" and then they mindlessly parrot what they have been told to believe. (Is this you?)\n\n"Life is in the blood," and bloodless embryos should be made available to researchers who envision treatments and possible cures to debilitating illnesses that you, or someone you love, may one day encounter.\n\nDoyle Doss\n\n? May be reprinted and distributed in its entirety only --
Avatar of: Rebecca Taylor

Rebecca Taylor

Posts: 2

September 1, 2006

You do not need to consult the Bible to know when a new, genetically distinct human life begins. Embryology books start at conception (not with the formation of the first blood cell) for a reason!\n\n
Avatar of: liz

liz

Posts: 1

September 4, 2006

There is life Before conception: Genesis 2:7, "And G-d blew into his nostrils the soul of life; AND MAN BECAME A LIVING BEING" - Adam was not conceived and yet, he was a living being! Although the Bible doesnt say that Adam had any blood, should we entertain the thought that Adam had no life? Since Adam was never an embryo? His entire generation never lived?
Avatar of: JP

JP

Posts: 1

October 26, 2006

In response to your logic that the of life of human beings begins only after a bloodless state in early stages of growth: This is quite misleading and smacks of hostility. For certainly without the blood of the mothers womb and her life giving protection to the newly created being there would be no life. Does not the newly formed girl or boy attach in this fertile environment? You overlook the elegance of this process as if life emerges independantly, it does not: life begets life. Not to mention the spark of life and all that makes up a person, personality and all, on the minute head of a sperm and an egg which have no blood, yet blood is all around the process. Further more, the actual person who is a human being is more than it's accumulation of parts, material, or biology; there is soul and spirit. The end of the logic you use in this promotion of experimentation is that you, the scientist decide when a person is worthy to be called a life and a being independently, not God who created life. And now you want to use the bible to defend this arrogance. It does no good to argue what the bible says or doesn't say about conception if you don't believe you were created. The fact remains you wouldn't be here to argue any points if your mother had given you up for scientific research as a so called embryo or, chose to abort you, yet God would still know you and care for you if that had been the case.
Avatar of: IJM

IJM

Posts: 1

December 1, 2006

What is Life?\n\nWhat is Life according to the bible?\n\nThe principle of life or living of an individual. As to earthly, physical life, things possessing life generally have the capabilities of growth, metabolism, response to external stimuli, and reproduction. The Hebrew word used in the Scriptures is chai·yim', and the Greek word is zo·e'. The Hebrew word ne'phesh and the Greek word psy·khe', both meaning ?soul,? are also employed to refer to life, not in the abstract sense, but to life as a person or an animal. \n\nWhat is a Soul according to the Bible?\n\nThe original-language terms (Heb., ne'phesh [;ÇÅ]; Gr., psy·khe' [yucª]) as used in the Scriptures show ?soul? to be a person, an animal, or the life that a person or an animal enjoys.\n\nThe initial occurrences of ne'phesh are found at Genesis 1:20-23. On the fifth creative ?day? God said: ??Let the waters swarm forth a swarm of living souls [ne'phesh] and let flying creatures fly over the earth . . . ? And God proceeded to create the great sea monsters and every living soul [ne'phesh] that moves about, which the waters swarmed forth according to their kinds, and every winged flying creature according to its kind.? Similarly on the sixth creative ?day? ne'phesh is applied to the ?domestic animal and moving animal and wild beast of the earth? as ?living souls.??Ge 1:24.\nAfter man?s creation, God?s instruction to him again used the term ne'phesh with regard to the animal creation, ?everything moving upon the earth in which there is life as a soul [literally, in which there is living soul (ne'phesh)].? (Ge 1:30) \nNotably, the Christian Greek Scriptures coincide in applying the Greek psy·khe' to animals, as at Revelation 8:9; 16:3, where it is used of creatures in the sea.\nThus, the Scriptures clearly show that ne'phesh and psy·khe' are used to designate the animal creation lower than man. The same terms apply to man.\n\nThe same Hebrew phrase used of the animal creation, namely, ne'phesh chai·yah' (living soul), is applied to Adam, when, after God formed man out of dust from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, ?the man came to be a living soul.? (Ge 2:7) Man was distinct from the animal creation, but that distinction was not because he was a ne'phesh (soul) and they were not. Rather, the record shows that it was because man alone was created ?in God?s image.? (Ge 1:26, 27) He was created with moral qualities like those of God, with power and wisdom far superior to the animals; hence he could have in subjection all the lower forms of creature life. (Ge 1:26, 28) Man?s organism was more complex, as well as more versatile, than that of the animals. (Compare 1Co 15:39.) Likewise, Adam had, but lost, the prospect of eternal life; this is never stated with regard to the creatures lower than man because they where never given eternal life. ?Ge 2:15-17; 3:22-24.\n\nIt is true that the account says that ?God proceeded to blow into the man?s nostrils the breath [form of nesha·mah'] of life,? whereas this is not stated in the account of the animal creation. Clearly, however, the account of the creation of man is much more detailed than that of the creation of animals. Moreover, Genesis 7:21-23, in describing the Flood?s destruction of ?all flesh? outside the ark, lists the animal creatures along with mankind and says: ?Everything in which the breath [form of nesha·mah'] of the force of life was active in its nostrils, namely, all that were on the dry ground, died.? Obviously, the breath of life of the animal creatures also originally came from God.\n\nSo, too, the ?spirit? (Heb., ru'ach; Gr., pneu'ma), or life-force, of man is not distinct from the life-force in animals, as is shown by Ecclesiastes 3:19-21, which states, ?They all have but one spirit [u·ru'ach].?\n\nSo what does blood have to do with it?\n\nBecause the creature?s life is so inseparably connected with and dependent on blood (shed blood standing for the life of the person or creature [Ge 4:10; 2Ki 9:26; Ps 9:12; Isa 26:21]), the Scriptures speak of the ne'phesh (soul) as being ?in the blood.? (Ge 9:4; Le 17:11, 14; De 12:23) This is, obviously, not meant literally, inasmuch as the Scriptures also speak of the ?blood of your souls? (Ge 9:5; compare Jer 2:34) and the many references already considered could not reasonably be applied solely to the blood or its life-supporting qualities.\n\nNe'phesh (soul) is not used with reference to the creation of vegetable life on the third creative ?day? (Ge 1:11-13) or thereafter, since vegetation is bloodless.\n\nLife-force and breath. In earthly creatures, or ?souls,? there is both the active life-force, or ?spirit? that animates them, and the breath that sustains that life-force. Both spirit (life-force) and breath are provisions from God, and he can destroy life by taking either away. (Ps 104:29; Isa 42:5) At the time of the Flood, animals and humans were drowned; their breath was cut off and the force of life was extinguished. It died out. ?Everything in which the breath of the force of life was active [literally, ?in which the breath of the active force (spirit) of life [was]?] in its nostrils, namely, all that were on the dry ground, died.??Ge 7:22; \n\nTransmission of Life-Force. The life-force in creatures, being started into activity by Jehovah in the first of each kind (for example, in the first human pair), could then be passed on by the procreative process to offspring. In mammals, following conception the mother supplies oxygen and other nourishment until birth, when the infant begins to breathe through its nostrils, to nurse, and later to eat.\nWhen Adam was created, God formed man?s body. For that newly created body to live and continue alive, both the spirit (life-force) and breathing were needed. Genesis 2:7 states that God proceeded ?to blow into his nostrils the breath [form of nesha·mah'] of life, and the man came to be a living soul.? ?The breath of life? must refer to more than just breath or air moving into the lungs. God evidently provided Adam with both the spirit or spark of life and the breath needed to keep him alive. Now Adam began to have life as a person, to express personality traits, and by his speech and actions he could reveal that he was higher than the animals, that he was a ?son of God,? made in His likeness and image. ?Ge 1:27; Lu 3:38.\n\nOrganism. All things having life, either spiritual or fleshly, have an organism, or body. Life itself is impersonal, incorporeal, being merely the life principle. \n\nI hope this has enlightened you in the way you look at life and what it is. As for the question of when life begins then I would agree with JP.\n\n\nGod is not a God of confusion."?1 Corinthians 14:33\nlife begets life?its that simple!\n\n\n\n\n

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