Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Embryology Bill update

Sadly the challenge to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill failed in the Lords yesterday.

This means that we have given our scientists permission to create new human-animal species, for research purposes. Adult stem cell research, which is yielding many results in new treatments for disease, may be bypassed in favour of research into chimeras. Embryonic lives are being created purely for the purposes of research - Rowan Williams rightly slates this as turning people into mere instruments, rather than creatures with innate value and God-given worth.

My life expectancy of 75+ is down to scientific advances in the cure of disease, for which I'm deeply thankful. It means I should live to see my childrens children (if they have any, and if we don't melt ourselves into oblivion first). But there's a cultural change in attitudes to suffering and death - we believe we're the first generation that can live free of these things, and pursue eternal youth at the gym and under the cosmetic surgeons knife. There's no disease we should simply sit back and accept, but we do seem to be in denial about the fact that we will get older, get sick, and die. Is avoiding this such an absolute moral imperative that it justifies pretty much anything the researchers want to try? If saving life and postponing death is so important, that must be premised on human life having value, yet we're giving our scientists permission to play around with embryo humans at will.

Jesus "shared in our humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death— that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (Hebrews 2:15) What happens when a whole culture fears death?

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