Thursday, November 9, 2006

Christianity Today: "Worth Protecting"

From Christianity Today, if we are called to defend innocent life, what are the implications for embryonic stem-cell research?
Back when Steve Martin and Saturday Night Live were funnier, the ubiquitous comedian starred in a dark sketch in which he played "Theodoric of York: Medieval Barber." Theodoric attempts to heal using primitive techniques, usually involving bloodletting or leeches. Not surprisingly, most of the patients end up dead or deformed. Toward the end, Theodoric ponders the destructiveness of his "cures," musing, "Perhaps I've been wrong to blindly follow the medical traditions and superstitions of past centuries. Maybe we barbers should test these assumptions analytically, through experimentation and a 'scientific method.' … Perhaps I could lead the way to a new age, an age of rebirth, a Renaissance!"

But Theodoric then delivers the devastating punch line: "Naaaaaahhh!"

Unfortunately, Christians who express moral qualms about embryonic stem cell (ESC) research, which currently requires the destruction of nascent human life, are being typecast as medieval barbers holding back a golden age of scientific discovery....

According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 68 percent of those surveyed favor more taxpayer money for ESC research, with just 27 percent opposed....

Why then this blind faith? Certainly compassion for the suffering is one big factor. Another, unfortunately, is widespread fear of disabilities, such as spinal cord injuries and Alzheimer's. Frightened citizens are willing to grasp at any elixir, however dubious. As Ronald D. G. McKay, a stem-cell researcher at the National Institutes of Health, acknowledged, "People need a fairy tale."...

Is the embryo really a precious human life made in God's image? Or is it simply marvelously complex raw material to be exploited for the greater good? [Joni] Eareckson Tada is unwilling to cross that moral line, even in her wheelchair. How about the rest of us?...[W]e should not expect any quick and easy solutions. Defending human dignity may be the work of years, even decades. Amid much opposition, in 1791 William Wilberforce presented his first bill to abolish the British slave trade. Finally the odious practice was outlawed 16 years later, and British slavery not until 1831.

We need the conviction and endurance of Wilberforce. Even when they call us medieval barbers.
[full article]

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