The ultimate potential under ideal conditions and perfect continual nourishment of a group of cells is no basis for deciding on their status in law. Nothing could be more absurd. While there is no certainty that so-called hybrid embryos are necessary for the successful development of future therapies, there is absolutely no moral status that can be attributed to such an artificially organised and reconstructed assembly. It has in practice no potential anyway, so the argument for its moral status is doubly flawed.
It has been pointed out that
stem-cell therapies for diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes could
illegal under embryo research laws planned by the Government. The Bill
currently passing through
Parliament could prevent patients from receiving potentially
treatments based on embryonic stem cells, because it does not permit
regulators to license them for therapeutic use. This makes the passing
of the Bill even less controversial as it will require further
legislation before the results of the research can ever lead to
I see no connection at all with
any religion that has been practiced in the UK or used as the basis for
our laws. So-called theologians just make up their discipline as they
go along with no basis in the Gospels at all. Clerics should just mind
their own business. That business is to understand their own religion
before teaching it to others, to bring the interpretation of scripture
up to date and to recognise their considerable failure is the single
most significant factor responsible for drug addiction, alcoholism,
obesity, teenage pregnancy and anti-social behaviour. All of these are
examples of self-indulgence which is the result of lack of
understanding, purpose and social cohesion, That science and religion
should be at odds is an absurdity. The wisdom of Jesus has been twisted
in knots for centuries by the Catholic church and the fundamentalist
protestant evangelists are just as bad.
There is talk of 'matters of conscience' and
'moral dilemma' but no
insight into the real heart of the matter. It reminds me of debates
for and against nuclear power and even nuclear deterrence. The fact is
that whether one is for or against the development and use of such
techniques it is the duty of the UK to make sure that our scientists
are at the highest level of understanding in this matter, because this
knowledge and biological technology will be developed globally whether
we in the UK like it or not, and if there is to be any control over it,
this can only be exercised by those in the forefront of the research.
If our scientists were to stay aloof from such biological developments it would encourage those elsewhere, not subject to such enlightened and responsible government, to experiment, to make claims and to manufacture product without the leadership of responsible and democratically accountable scientists and institutions.
We have tasted the tree of knowledge so there is no return. What counts is what we do with that knowledge. Just as with atomic power, this sort of biological breakthrough can be used for good or it can be abused. What matters is who is to be in control and able to discover the advantages and the dangers and develop the intellectual and therefore moral authority to advise politicians and the public so that decisions can be made.
Personally I doubt that such science will bring the long term solutions to human health problems that some scientists propose. It may well lead to other problems. My personal opinion is not a basis for legislation but the risks cannot be avoided by banning research at this stage in the UK.