Yesterday President Bush vetoed a bill that, had it become law, would have deeply eroded respect for human life. It was a courageous act because there was enormous pressure on him to agree to fund more embryo-destructive research.
After vetoing this bill, the president signed one for funding research into methods of creating pluripotent stem cells—the kind that can be turned into many types of body tissue without creating or killing human embryos.
Not surprisingly, there was an outpouring of vitriol directed not only against the president but also against conservative Christians. A full-page ad in the New York Times, funded by a liberal front group called DefConAmerica, screamed, “The religious right is imposing its will on all Americans. . . . That loud noise you hear is the wall between church and state crumbling.”
Wait a minute. Aren’t Christians allowed to have a voice in politics like everybody else, or has the First Amendment been repealed?
Other critics claim Bush is anti-science. The bill he vetoed was about funding, not banning research—billions in taxpayer money for something private companies refuse to support. Why? Because the prospects of it leading to any cures are very poor. As President Reagan said when he outlawed stem-cell research: If private companies won’t put up their money, why should the taxpayers? Good question.
Another argument we hear is that embryonic stem-cell researchers only want to use so-called “spare” embryos left over from in vitro fertilization. False: Many researchers really want to engage in so-called “therapeutic cloning”—the cloning of huge numbers of embryos in the attempt to find cures for diseases, to which the bill the president vetoed would have opened the door.
Another false claim is that we ought to proceed with this research because everybody else is doing it. That would be news in Canada, Norway, Switzerland, and Australia, where cloning research is illegal. Both Germany and France have embraced the same position President Bush has.
The supporters of embryo-destructive research want to cross a great moral divide. They are seeking not only to destroy human life made in God’s image but also to manufacture life made in man’s image. Tragically, we are losing this fight, however, because too few people understand the issues.
That’s why I recommend an excellent new book called How to Be a Christian in a Brave New World. The authors are bioethicist Nigel Cameron and Joni Eareckson Tada. Nigel and Joni grapple brilliantly with the brave new world of biotech challenges -- stem-cell research, cloning, euthanasia, even the reshaping of human nature.
The authors -- both good friends of mine -- believe that Christians need to be well informed in order to argue the case about these new technologies and what they really mean. This book is going to help Christians sort out the arguments and see through the propaganda.
I hope you’ll read this book and share it with your church, and you can find out information about it on our website. The secular world wants us to pipe down; but as Christians and as citizens, we need to speak out when it comes to new technologies that may lead us down the seductive path to a Brave New World and killing humans.
For further reading and information:
BreakPoint Commentary No. 060227, “The Biotech Century: Dream or Nightmare?”
BreakPoint Commentary No. 060517, “The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number.”
Jordan Ballor, “A Monster Created in Man’s Image,” BreakPoint Online, 18 July 2006.