Ken Connor

Popular culture is blindly embracing science and ignoring legitimate moral concerns. Human dignity is steadily being eroded in the pursuit of the "advancement of science" and the quest for "cures." Increasingly, we are losing our common understanding of what it means to be a human being, and the idea that human beings are something "special" is rapidly becoming an antiquated notion.

Science is unquestionably a worthwhile pursuit, but many have come to view science as an end unto itself. The unbridled pursuit of science and technology is glorified, and any who suggest constraining science within limits of morality or propriety are condemned. Raising the simple question of whether something should be done is considered taboo. Radical science advocates are only interested in whether something can be done. Central to the "science without limits" view is the notion that man is merely an animal, the product of random chance. God is removed from the creation equation and the notion of moral truth is abandoned. Notions of right and wrong are relegated to the spheres of theology and philosophy and do not constrain the consciences or actions of radical scientists.

The latest example of the results of radical science is the blending of human DNA and animal cells in Britain. There scientists extracted the DNA from a human embryonic cell and injected it into a "emptied" cow egg. This process, it is argued, produces a 99.9% human embryo from which scientists can harvest stem cells for further research and analysis. A group at Newcastle University led by Lyle Armstrong produced one such "cybrid" embryo (cytoplasmic hybrid) on April 1. It lived three days and grew to 32 cells. The ultimate goal is to extend a cybrid's life cycle to six days, at which time stem cells can be removed.

Current British law makes it illegal to allow these cybrids to live longer than 14 days or to implant them into a human womb. The use of animal eggs is justified by the shortage of human eggs and the danger to women in harvesting them. The process is authorized upon receipt of a license from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

The creation of cybrids by the scientific community represents a frontal assault on human dignity. The mixing of human and animal cells for the purpose of creating a 99.9% person is a grave violation of the natural order and strikes at the heart of what it means to be a human being. If the practice is allowed to persist, the percentages will inevitably change based on the utility of the various combinations of humans and animals. The average person recoils at such a practice, but not the radical scientists.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.