Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Playing God or Fighting for God?

I'm sure you may have heard or read about the 'hybrid embryo research' in the news. I'm sure it's sparked discussions all over the place about ethics versus scientific advances. It certainly did in our house!


I have to admit that I've only had a quick glance at the story really but I thought I would share some of my own thoughts and also some of the things God says about these kinds of issues that we should be aware of if we want to do things right by him. I'm not arguing one way or the other, just throwing some things into the discussion and I hope they might be useful...

Do embryos feel pain?
I think this is a critical issue if we're talking about manipulating life in its early stages, particularly human life (because we're made in the image of God - Genesis 1:27) but also animal life (because we are charged with taking care of them - Genesis 1:26). After sin and death came into the world, God said we could kill animals for our food but I think we should do everything we can to avoid animals suffering unnecessarily and going through pain needlessly. If pain can be experienced at the embryo stage, then I think we need to be very careful about what we do with them. On the other hand, if we can be sure they don't feel any pain then it follows that we're not hurting them by intervening and experimenting.

Sanctity of life?
The Bible makes it clear that murder is wrong and that only God can give life and only he should take it (Exodus 20:13). It also says that death, sickness and suffering only exist in our world because of sin (Romans 6:23). God is telling us that we should be fighting to reverse the effects of sin wherever we see them. We should fight for life and use everything we can to preserve life and improve the quality of it. This is what the principle of the sanctity of life is all about as I understand it and it seems thoroughly biblical to me too. So, if the motives for scientific experiment are to improve the quality and quantity of human life, then it could be a great thing to be involved in but if the motives are less than honourable to human existence, then it could be a horrific thing to be doing.

What are the risks?
A very practical question really. If genetic experiments could end up in human life being tragically shortened or diminished, especially on a large scale such as a pandemic, then this would surely overrule any noble aims to improve and prolong life.

Is it equal to bestiality?
Someone suggested that it's just wrong to mix human and animal genes because it's the same thing that's wrong with bestiality. I'm not convinced of this myself. In the Bible when God condemns besstiality (Leviticus 20:15), he's listing off a whole bunch of sexual sins that we should not engage in, including adultery, homosexual acts, sex within families, etc. It about sexual sins, not genetic experimentation, so I don't think it's relevant here.

Is it playing God or fighting for him?
This is the ultimate question that should determine our conclusions about right and wrong on this issue. Are we playing God by being involved in genetic experimentation or are we simply doing our duty to fight for life with all the resources he has given us?

So I haven't answered any questions but hopefully my rambling might have thrown some useful light into things. Let me know!