Monday, 18 June 2007

Can does not equal should

UK parliament is to debate the Human Tissues and Embryos (Draft) Bill. The document is 247 pages long (not the bill). From pages ix-x
1.10 ...The White paper also proposed that the creation of hybrid and chimera embryos in vitro should not be permitted but that there should be a regulation-making power allowing exceptions to this prohibition. The Bill as currently drafted reflects this position....

1.11 Following the publication of the White Paper.... The report of the Committee concluded that the creation of hybrid and chimera embryos is necessary for research.

1.12 ...we intend to accept the principle that legislation should provide for the following inter-species entities (hybrids and chimeras)...:
  • cytoplasmic hybrid (cybrid)—an embryo created by replacing the nucleus of an animal egg or a cell derived from an animal embryo with a human cell of the nucleus of a human cell)
  • human transgenic embryos—a human embryo that has been altered by the introduction of any sequence of nuclear or mitochondrial DNA of an animal
  • human-animal chimera—a human embryo that has been altered by the introduction of one or more animal cells.
I have not waded thru this but is appears the proposal is these entities will be prohibited as per 1.10 with exemptions as deemed necessary. Of course all this will be debated.

And recently in the news a British group is stating that somatic cell nuclear transfer should be allowed
Making human-animal embryos for scientific experiments should be allowed because of the benefits to science and medicine, British experts said in a report released for Sunday.
As there is no bill currently against this they are asking for it to remain legal. The proposed bill will address it. It is good that the issue is being addressed. One hopes for the right outcome.

I am not completely opposed to all genetic experimentation. I am of the opinion that scientists think they know much more about DNA than they actually do, so my view is one predisposed to caution.

There seems to be an argument concerning scientific experiments that involve aspects of questionable morality, one of this knowledge is required to advance science or find cures to disease. But this is a muddying of the waters. If these experiments go ahead I think it is likely that increased knowledge will come of it. The question is not: will this lead to increased knowledge? rather: should we do this?

Just because something is possible does not mean that it should be done. This is the temptation Jesus faced and resisted
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If [or Since] you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written,
"'Man shall not live by bread alone,/
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:1-4)
Was the temptation? "Can you turn the stones into bread?" or was it? "You are the Son of God and you are hungry so use your power to make bread and sate your hunger." The second option is consistent with Jesus' rebuke to Satan; Jesus comments that it is not for him to do his own will but that of the Father.

This temptation of Satan continues to come to us: since you can you should. We best learn from Jesus: it is not "whether we can" that determines our course of action it is the will of the Father.

And if it is God's will, ability counts for less—God's ability is unlimited.

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