"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," said Confucius. But a journey of whatever length presumes one has a destination in mind. With President Obama's executive order authorizing expanded federal funding for research using stem cells, produced from the destruction of human embryos, the destination will be left up to scientists, as will any "speed controls." The sky, or in this case the depths, will be the limit.
In the classical style of a brilliant politician, President Obama sought to invoke an ethical standard for his decision, while simultaneously denying a standard that might restrain scientists from going too far. He said that as a "person of faith," he believes "we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research -- and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly."
The president didn't say who gives such a calling or who gave us such a capacity. In his carefully crafted language, we are supposed to believe God is behind this. Yet, David wrote of God in Psalm 139, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb ... I am fearfully and wonderfully made." And again in Jeremiah 1:5, the prophet quotes God, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." Those and other verses would seem to trump not only science, but whatever "faith" the president has in such matters.
President Obama wants a "faith" unconnected to anything outside of himself to advance his policy on stem cell research, but he appears agnostic when it comes to abortion. Apparently, Obama's "faith" serves his politics, not the reverse. This places science in the place of God, or ethics. Whatever can be done, should be done. Shifting moral sands will allow almost anything as soon as the public can be conditioned with images of a trembling Michael J. Fox, or an average American in a wheelchair pleading for the chance to walk again. The unborn have no voice except for those that cry out on their behalf.
If science is to be supreme, why didn't Obama advocate for the advances made with adult stem cells that do not require the destruction of a human life? At first, some scientists expressed doubt that adult stem cells would be able to achieve the goals they sought through embryonic stem cells, but now many of them think differently. My wife faced a rare ailment that was shut down after her own stem cells were harvested and re-introduced into her bone marrow following treatment. No life was destroyed and one life has been saved and enhanced.
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