In a blog post that could be seen as more science fiction than reality, the director of the National Institute for Health on August 4, asked for permission to fund research that would involve inserting the stem cells of animals into a human embryo (unborn baby). This so-called “Chimera” research, named for the Greek mythological creature that was part goat, part snake and part lion, would be attempted to generate organs like kidneys and pancreas for transplant into human beings.
While the outcome may be promising since we have a chronic shortage of healthy organs for transplant, the research also involves inserting human stem cells into animal brains, producing a hybrid animal-human or an animal with some degree of human intelligence. Have we gone too far in science?
In a culture where literally, science is regarded as the ultimate authority and the ultimate good by many if not most, we are now dabbling in the human genome in a way that could have drastic and dramatically negative outcomes.
On the first level, it seems this research is moral and well-intended. However, it will involve over and over the destruction of human embryos for the research to be continued. The question becomes, at which point does the end no longer justify the means? While I have no moral struggle with a pig that is able to grow a human kidney that can be harvested and the rest of the animal eaten for breakfast, I must draw the line at the intentional destruction of a viable human embryo being discarded and disregarded for the sake of “progress.”
And on a deeper and not-so-fanciful level, what if this animal with a genetically modified brain manages to reproduce? Though they have promised safeguards would be set in place to prevent this (which means it COULD!!!!!!) anyone who has been around animals much would take issue with their promise.
So to answer my own question, YES we have gone too far. The fact that we can do something doesn’t mean we SHOULD do it. The fact that there may be some immediate benefits, say to a person needing an immediate kidney transplant, the slippery slope we find ourselves on is not going to end well for us.
God made man in His image. He could have made animals in His image. He didn’t. He could have chosen a monkey or an elephant or a leopard. He chose an Adam… a man… to breathe His breath and His Spirit into… relating man to God in a unique and singular way. There was a reason God did this… and a reason we are distinct and created this way.
To play with that formula will only lead us downward.
FOR MEDITATION: So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him…. Genesis 1:27
FOR REFLECTION: What does being made in God’s image mean to you… and how does it affect how you think about what is right and wrong in life… what is moral or evil?