Christianity and Bioethics. Seeking Arguments for Stem Cell Research in Genesis

By Leabu, Mircea | Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Christianity and Bioethics. Seeking Arguments for Stem Cell Research in Genesis


Leabu, Mircea, Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies


Abstract: Many Christian scholars, if not all of them, consider Genesis to be foundational texts of the Bible and the spring for all the other doctrines of the Scripture. Therefore, I'm considering the attempt to search and find arguments for cell therapy ethical issues in the fundamental text of Genesis as a challenging and educative task. Moreover, this could be the first step in analyzing the relationships between Christian religions and bioethics, in terms of finding reasonable decisions for ethical challenges, raised by the current biomedical research. As for many other dilemmas of humanity, we have to recall the text of Genesis for analyzing the goodness or evilness of our actions in translational medicine, even though that is not the only way to get a reasonable ethical decision. My contribution is an essay that is trying to correlate the Genesis lessons with the needed arguments in deciding what could be good and what could be evil in the stem cell research, according to the religious convictions. The biggest challenges of biomedical research for Christian religions were due to the human cloning issue, made possible by the somatic cell nuclear transfer, but those challenges update the older debates on birth control pill, technologically assisted reproduction, or gene therapy. Issues related to in vitro fertilization, gene enhancement and gene therapy, human cell cloning, embryonic stem cell using, and chimera cell obtaining for research are being considered and related to the putative arguments extracted from the book of Genesis, describing the origins.

As a matter of fact, I may conclude that the single way to reach a reasonable ethical decision in our society is to intersect ethics, science and theology and to engage large debates involving scientists, theologians, civil society representatives, ethicists (experts in applied ethics) and moral philosophers, having the two latest professionals as referees.

Key Words: bioethics, Christianity, Genesis, cell therapy, translational medicine, in vitro fertilization, human cloning

Introduction1

In the history of Christianity and biomedicine relationships, theological scholars have implemented proscriptions for many acts contributing to the knowledge development, as for example, dissection of human cadavers, helping us to understand the human body anatomy. However, brave people have emerged through time and succeeded in finding the appropriate solutions to elude prohibition2. The conservative attitude of religion often compelled scientists to find alternatives in their researches, in order to overpass the restrictions. Nowadays, we need wise people to reach reasonable decisions for the ethical issues raised by the biomedicine moral challenges. Moreover, these rational ethical decisions have to consider the religious beliefs. Here, I will consider some aspects related to Christianity and bioethics in the field of stem cell research.

Current days, there are controversial opinions regarding the intertwining of bioethics and religions3, that seem to softly converge. On the one hand, there were thinkers considering that "religious, philosophical, and moral convictions are part of what we call 'nonpublic identity', matters that citizens may deal with in their 'personal affairs'"4. On the other hand, more realistic scholars consider the idea "to eliminate comprehensive religious views of human good from the creation of public policy is not only to misunderstand the degree to which religious belief permeates secular thought, but also unfairly and unwisely to exclude religious views from public discussion in pluralistic democratic societies"5. In my opinion, none of the cultural gains of humanity could be ignored in any decision to reach, more so when it comes to an ethical decision; and the religious tradition is one of the most important cultural gains.

There are two basic approaches for analyzing the bioethical challenges in terms of religious convictions: a hermeneutical manner and a casuistic argumentation. …

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