Apologize and Don't Be Sorry!

A site dedicated to thinking through the common objections to the Catholic Faith as well as questions of a general religious nature.

Location: Prague, Oklahoma, United States

Just your basic 21st century priest trying to bring the Gospel to everyone who will give it a fair hearing.

Monday, June 06, 2005

I am a high school student at Bishop McGuinness. Recently in one of my classes we got into a discussion on whether or not stem cell research is right or wrong. I know that the Church teaches that this is degrading to the dignity of the human person, but the counter argument is that the research, if allowed, could save lives. How do you counter that? Also, why is this an important issue when there is do much other disrespect given to life that already exists? Thank you for any help you can give.
Sarah Rosencrans, Edmond

Scientific research of any kind cannot use a person as a means to an end. When someone takes part in a research study, those conducting the study have a grave obligation to explain all of the side effects and possible outcomes of participation, the good and the bad alike. Then the participant can give full and informed consent to what is about to take place. In stem cell research, the central problem rests with embryonic stem cells being used. Given that life begins at conception, the embryo is a human person. The stem cells are the foundational building blocks from which the embryo fashions its tissues, organs, and systems. To harvest these cells would mean the embryo’s destruction and no matter what theoretical benefit one has in mind, it cannot be purchased with the life of another. It would be no different if I walked up to you, and discovering that you and I share the same blood and tissue types, took your kidney because I might need it later or it might save my life. Using stem cells, with proper consent, from an adult is not a problem and the research seems to suggest that this works better in therapeutic scenarios.

The logical flaw rests on the "ends justifying the means." When we will something, both the end we are shooting for and the means we use to get there must be good (CCC #1789). As a good counter, try this. Remember the movie Jurassic Park? The crazy old rich guy knew that using technology he could recreate dinosaurs and make major bucks. The mathematician (Jeff Goldblum) reminds him, "Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD do something." Then the dinosaurs go on a rampage. Just because research using embryonic stem cells could result in something good does not necessarily mean that it is good to do this research.

Defense of the unborn is important because it is the first link in a long chain of related moral issues. Ever play with dominoes? You stack them in rows and designs and then watch them fall down. Granted that all of them are necessary to make the design take shape and the effect to go off, which one matters the most? The first one matters most. If the first one doesn't set anything off, then the rest is left in the lurch.

With matters of life and respect for life in its most vulnerable state, who is going to speak for an embryo if not his big brothers and sisters? If life is not respected when it is most vulnerable, I guarantee that life will not be respected in any other venue. As an example, it is curious to me that the frequency of reported cases of domestic abuse has increased in proportion to the prevalence of abortion in our society. The argument is not that these other attacks on the dignity of life are not evil or are not important. It is a matter that if life is not defended in the womb, it won't be defended anywhere.

Keep up the good work and the good thinking. Pray to God that He would show you your vocation.


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