| Embryo Ethics
The world cringed in 2002 when an obscure religious group,
the Raelians, claimed to have cloned the first human baby. Though
it later proved to be a publicity stunt, the story preyed on our
fears and launched yet more ferocious debates over the science
But the issues are much more complex than do we or don’t we endorse human
cloning. Reproductive cloning is one thing, but what about “therapeutic
cloning”? And what about the use of stem cells required for therapeutic
cloning? Stem cell research is itself a hotly debated subject that has eroded political
ties, spawned international disagreements and even divided the church.
On one hand, public figures such as Christopher Reeve, Nancy Reagan and
Michael J. Fox argue that stem cell research could lead to cures for disease and
debilitating physical conditions. “Never before has there been such a powerful
tool, such a resource that can give so much hope,” Reeve said in a CNN interview.
The opposing side, including the Bush administration, offers arguments that are
just as emotionally charged. White House spokesman Scott McClellan told the press
in June, “The president doesn’t believe we should be creating life for the sole
purpose of destroying life.”
How can Christians evaluate the issues of cloning and stem cell research? “We
should found our ethics on reason and understanding, not hysteria,” argues Ted
Peters, author of such books as Science, Theology, and Ethics and Playing
God? Genetic Determinism and Human Freedom. Peters lectured at Seattle Pacific
University last spring as part of the Science and Religion Dialogue Series spearheaded
by SPU Professor of Wesleyan Theology Randy Maddox.
Peters’ lecture with his provocative analysis of cloning and stem cell
research has been adapted for publication in this issue of Response.
Responding to his arguments are Maddox and Associate Professor of Biology Cynthia
Fitch. “I don’t have the answers,” Peters admits, “but I hope my ideas will help
to generate conversation among Christians, and between Christians and the broader culture.”
BY YORGOS NIKAS/GETTY IMAGES
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