UK Embryo Horror

by Jimmy Akin

in Abortion

Hybrid_embryo_processYou may have seen press stories recently about UK scientists pleading for the use of hybrid human-animal embryos in stem cell research.

Now the British press is reporting that it looks like the plan will be given the go-ahead.

If this were a matter of just splicing a few human genes into a clearly non-human organism, matters would be different, but it appears that the plan involves the creation of an organism that is 99.9% human (see diagram, left).

Basically, they’re talking about eliminating the nuclear genetic information in an animal (most likely cow) cell and shoving in the nucleus of a human cell, then stimulating the result to develop into an embryo.

It’s true that there is non-nuclear genetic material that is found in cells–in organelles besides the nucleus. For example, you may have heard of mitochondrial DNA (DNA found in the mitochondria, which are not part of the nucleus). The process as described would appear to leave that genetic material intact from the animal providing the ovum.

But I’m sorry, this really looks like creating a human being that has a slight admixture of cow genes, not creating a cow that has a slight admixture of human genes.

As a result, one must err on the side of caution and conclude that such embryos are human beings with the right to life and the British government is planning on murdering them or funding their murder.

The stories in the British press cite polling done of people suggesting that the British public favors the use of embryos in trying to find cures for Parkinson’s and Altzheimer’s.

I bet the pollsters didn’t ask, "Are you in favor of research that involves killing something that might be a human being and that in fact has 99.9% human genetic material."

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{ 145 comments }

LJ September 5, 2007 at 1:11 am

They are out of control. The moral guard-rails have all been removed. I hate to even speculate what they might try next.

My Cat's Name is Lily September 5, 2007 at 3:11 am

It’s an obvious end run around the words “killing a human being”.
Add just enough cow (or horse, or spider monkey, or tree frog), and say “It’s not a human being, so of course, it’s OK to kill!”
Doublespeak prospers. Blecch!

Ed S September 5, 2007 at 3:14 am

New meaning for: “I’m sorry man, but your wife is a cow!”

Ed S September 5, 2007 at 3:14 am

New meaning for: “I’m sorry man, but your wife is a cow!”

Ed S September 5, 2007 at 3:17 am

It gives new meaning to: “Hey man, your wife is a cow!”

Ed S September 5, 2007 at 3:22 am

Sorry about the above, but my computer had a cow as I was posting. Maybe Jimmy can remove two of the above.

Francis Ocoma September 5, 2007 at 3:24 am

The All-New Soylent Green(TM) Light: only 99.9% human, but just as good!

Mary Kay September 5, 2007 at 4:16 am

It won’t work – God has a way of dealing with “end runs.”

bill912 September 5, 2007 at 5:25 am

“Dr. Frankenstein, call your office.”

CatholicAudio September 5, 2007 at 6:20 am

FYI, this is already completely legal in the U.S. — it’s just not government funded…yet. I’m pretty sure that after the coming election it will be.
God Bless,
CatholicAudio

Skygor September 5, 2007 at 6:38 am

I would think people would realize the wrongness of a situation when it turns into bestiality.

BrianC September 5, 2007 at 6:42 am

Wow there must be a problem with my web browser, I type in JimmyAkin.com and it takes me to the sci-fi channel, oh wait.. This is one of the scariest things I have read in a long time. Why do people not see the danger of this. Many people forget that one of Einstein’s greatest regrets was the work on the Manhattan Project. I fear that 20 years from now the scientist involved with this mess will be expressing the same regrets.

Chris-2-4 September 5, 2007 at 7:13 am

It seems fitting to use a cow’s egg in the forging of science’s new golden calf.

Jamie Beu September 5, 2007 at 7:14 am

Actually, I think it’s “Paging Dr. Moreau…”
So, at what point will mankind have messed up enough of God’s creation that He will send His Son back to claim “game over”?
My friend just sent me an article about the Brave New World 75 years later, and I told him I held out hope for the future generations. Now, I’m not so sure…

Foxfier September 5, 2007 at 7:46 am

Wow…. I’m sad that they’re cloning with animal eggs, but not really surprised….. I kind of guessed it when I started reading up on how dangerous and hard it is to get human eggs.
The next logical step would be to try animal eggs with human DNA. (I said logical, not “good idea.”)

DeeDee September 5, 2007 at 8:01 am

I don’t think many people realize just what a horror this is. The justification for crossing all these lines is that we want to help people, cure the sick,ect. and of course we do- but the ends do not justify the means. This is a portal that should never be opened.
Has the Vatican issued any statements on this?

DeeDee September 5, 2007 at 8:03 am

Brave New World- here we come. Lets create “subhuman”- but human beings of low intewlligence but lots of strength to do all the hard labor.

JoAnna September 5, 2007 at 8:18 am

I feel sick.

Esau September 5, 2007 at 8:46 am

Folks,
This is a bit more nuanced than how it is presented here.
No doubt, this is controversial; however, there is some ambiguity as to the ethics.

Michael September 5, 2007 at 9:19 am

I must agree with Jamie–I am imagining the Island of Dr. Moreau or certain parts of a Brave New World.

Esau September 5, 2007 at 9:26 am

What I allude to here, for example, is vaccine testing wherein during certain clinical trials, human cells are introduced into an animal in order to have an animal model that simulates a human being.
This is important since not performing such tests in a live model, there is great danger as to what ill effects the vaccine can have in an actual human being, which no computer simulated model can tell us as it requires a living organism that is a nearer model to that of the human organism.

StubbleSpark September 5, 2007 at 10:04 am

A person from another planet arrives on Earth. Scientists determine his DNA matches only 85% of human DNA. Therefore, it is right to perform harmful and deadly experiments on him.
Obviously, these people have no idea what “human” means. 99.9% indeed.

Leo September 5, 2007 at 10:10 am

For info, this has now been approved in principle http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6978384.stm
with online vote.
The remaining cow DNA of such organisms is the mitochondrial DNA, which codes for the energy-metabolism mechanisms of cells. These essential mechanism seem to have changed the least between species. But because other developmental cellular mechanisms are so finely balanced, it is unlikely that such an organism could develop very far or if born would be considered a disabled human.
Embryological research is fundamentally important, and cross-species studies might be illuminating. But we should not risk destroying humans as Jimmy explains.
The two issues which people find troubling are:
1. Destroying human or near-human embryos.
2. Blurring the distinction between humans and (other) animals.
Issue 1 is not a problem for those who have no scruples over the destructive use of human embryos. Acceptance of abortion has desensitized many. Destroying a not-quite-human embryo might seem less problematic for them.
But, Issue 2 is troubling for many more people, even those in the above camp and exposes some of their internal contradictions.
Why does it matter if the distinction is blurred? Only because we consider human status to be qualitatively (not just quantitatively-utilitarian) superior.
But if these are ‘only’ embryos, then why are even those who support destructive human embryo research troubled? Is it simply an aesthetic ‘yuk’ reaction eg seeing body fluids. Or is it an ethical alarm bell ringing, because deep inside themselves they suspect (know?) when human life begins?

Ed Pie September 5, 2007 at 10:35 am

it is unlikely that such an organism could develop very far or if born would be considered a disabled human.
Probably more “disabled” than “human,” so the more eugenically minded pro-choice types will have one more self-created problem to use to justify abortion. :(
A lot of the anecdotes I hear about homosexual or transexual people is that they spend much of their lives, at least until realizing what’s going on, feeling like there’s something inherently wrong, like God made a mistake when making them. While in their case it’s not actually an anatomical problem, it would be (er, genetically, anyway) for any sentient chimeras. I wonder if the chimeras, too, would feel that their makers erred in bringing them into existence. I wonder if their makers would be sympathetic.

Anonymous September 5, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Cordwainer Smith much be rotating in his grave. Am I the only one thinking about C’mell the catgirl here?

Fr. Terry Donahue, CC September 5, 2007 at 1:39 pm

Has the Vatican issued any statements on this?
The closest thing I’ve seen to a Vatican statement on the creation of animal-human hybrids (usually called chimeras when genetic information is combined from zygotes of different species) is the article on The United Nations and Human Cloning in L’Osservatore Romano (bottom of the page).
One good Catholic resource for these issues is this section from the website http://www.marymeetsdolly.com – A Catholic’s Guide to Genetics, Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
The National Catholic Bioethics Center has good information also, but requires a subscription.
For the somewhat related issue of xenotransplantation (putting animal organs into humans), I’d recommmend Prospects for Xenotransplantation: Scientific Aspects and Ethical Considerations from the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Fr. Terry Donahue, CC September 5, 2007 at 1:44 pm

Whoops! A corrected link for the National Catholic Bioethics Center is here.

Ed Peters September 5, 2007 at 2:01 pm

Jimmy, is a creature that is 99.9% human, human?

Marcel LeJeune September 5, 2007 at 2:49 pm

Dr. Peters – How could it be anything less than human?

Leo September 5, 2007 at 2:52 pm

The Linacre Centre for health care ethics has some excellent bio-ethical resources and a recent paper on human-animal hybrids.

Esau September 5, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Jimmy, is a creature that is 99.9% human, human?
Again, this is more nuanced than is presented here.
For example, if I introduced human cells into an animal model, that organism’s cells will be 99.9% human; however, is that animal/can that animal actually be called a “human being”?
Unfortunately, what is being rendered here is an oversimplification of the matter.
Please note, I am not saying I am for this; but that this is far from the “if it’s 99.9% human, thus it is human” assumption some folks make it out to be.

Esau September 5, 2007 at 3:13 pm

Those familiar with vaccine testing and what not would be more familiar with what I am talking about here.

Randolph Carter September 5, 2007 at 3:36 pm

Like the National Socialists in Germany in the 1930′s, who put Jews in tanks of frigid water, to measure the effects that hypothermia had on their bodies, and how long it took them to die — all, of course, in the name of helping cure the Aryan Germans of all disease — so too do these latter-day butchers perform ghastly experiments on human lives (in this case the most innocent of all human lives), meshing the flesh of man with the flesh of beast, creating human lives affected with an abominable curse — their very human genes, the genes of a being made in the image and likeness of God, being replaced by the genes of brute animals — before killing off the malformed child, before he can grow strong enough to rise up against his tormentors and, in a manner most befitting his animalistic half, kill the ones who so deformed him.
Dark days are upon us, indeed. The most consummate and total of all horrors that science is capable of producing — those things that were once the sole purview of science-fiction — have now become science fact. How long is it, I wonder, that the human race will continue on this wretched course toward self-annihilation; perhaps it is time for the people of fair Albion (and of all the world) to take measures against this sort of horror; to do as the scriptures says, and beat their plowshares into swords, and their pruning hooks into spears. I fear that perhaps, barring any kind of militant insurrection against the perpetrators of such crimes, such dastardly deeds will continue on unabated, and that new nightmares will be unleashed upon the world that will make the crimes of the Socialists look like acts of perpetual and purest God-fearing charity.
Yet we should not despair, for we are not without hope; no matter how great the darkness of the hearts and acts of men, there is a light greater still; a purifying radiance, luminosity unapproachable, that dissolves every shadow like wax before a flame, and can make of the most caliginous night a refulgent dawn. No matter what evil might afflict us at present, or might lie in wait ahead of us in the future, we need not be afraid; the powers of darkness are finite in strength, no matter how great in magnitude: and yet the One Who is Omnipotent has strength without end.
So, though I will lament that such evils as these exist in this world, and I will do everything in my power, through prayer and through action to put them to an end, I will not despair; for in the end, we are on the side of Christ, our God; and if God be with us, none can stand against us.
Still, for the sins of my race, I cannot help but weep.

Esau September 5, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Mr. Carter,
Be a man of your principle then and cease taking advantage of any of the benefits that have resulted from testing that is routinely done in terms of clinical trials of such things as vaccines wherein animal models are utilized to simulate the human immune system through introduction of human cells into animals.
I, thus, hope you will live up to your words and deny you and your family the benefits of such vaccines, either current or future, no matter how debilitating the disease you and your loved ones suffer, less you be a hypocrite who engages in nothing else but long-winded and verbose exchanges worthy of but a pittance of poop.

Kara September 5, 2007 at 4:17 pm

When did we start measuring humanness in percentages?

Jarnor23 September 5, 2007 at 4:19 pm

Nuanced is apparently the new word for relativistic.

Esau September 5, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Wow, Jarnor23, that retort had such substance in it, I can hardly come up with a reply as adequate as yours was.
You’ve addressed the issue quite extensively and to-the-detail that one can help but wonder what an intellect.

Kara September 5, 2007 at 4:54 pm

I, thus, hope you will live up to your words and deny you and your family the benefits of such vaccines
Esau, I must have missed the words you saw which said it was wrong to use the vaccines. Can you show me where he said that?

Esau September 5, 2007 at 4:59 pm

Kara,
In order to test the efficacy of vaccines, one of the things that occurs in testing is inject human cells into animals in order to mimic the human organism.
Read what he wrote –
Much of what he has stated in his comments has already occured as far as vaccines are concerned.

Kara September 5, 2007 at 5:11 pm

I asked, where did he say it was wrong to use the vaccines?

Esau September 5, 2007 at 5:14 pm

Kara,
How do you interpret “meshing the flesh of man with the flesh of beast”?
Is not the introduction of human cells into animals this?

Kara September 5, 2007 at 5:33 pm

How do you interpret “meshing the flesh of man with the flesh of beast”?
Exactly as he said: “creating human lives affected with an abominable curse.” He and his family are not doing that when his family gets vaccinated, nor was it done to create any of the vaccines his family has received.
Injecting an animal with a vaccine is not the same as “creating human lives affected with an abominable curse.”

Randolph Carter September 5, 2007 at 5:51 pm

Esau,
Forgive me if I have worded my statement in such a way that makes my position unclear; I do not recall ever saying I had a problem with experimenting upon or modifying animal creatures, or their nucleic acids, in anyway; and I would certainly not object to injecting bits of human organic tissue into an animal’s blood stream (which would seem about as harmless as letting a dog eat one’s toenail clippings). I would perhaps even not object to the creating of animal embryos with human acids infused into their genetic sequences, provided that such research is approached with caution and a respect for the inviolable dignity of the human person.
Yet here we are not talking about any of those things. What we are talking about is the creating of a human embryo — manufactured from a human seed and possessing of a human genetic sequence — with animal acids infused into his own cells. Creating human life in a lab, removed from the sacred folds of a mother’s womb, is a sin in and of itself; however, it may well be that directed application of animal acids into the structure of a human’s cells, for the purpose of repairing some damage found therein, may have licit medical prospects.
We are not, however, talking about the limited application of animal genes for the use in repairing the damaged genetic sequence of a human life; rather, we are talking about the creation of a human life, cruelly afflicted with random animal genes for no reason other than that that human life may be destroyed (sundered, butchered, annihilated, obliterated, slain, killed, and murdered!), torn apart and atomised, its cells harvested for research purposes.
If that is what it takes — if murder is what it takes — to produce life-giving medicine, then I would much rather go without. After all, we are but mortal, and it is our curse to die; yet though life is preferable to death, and though it is better that we should live a thousand years, and go on living for ever, rather than perish, if we must cannibalise the living to go on living ourselves; if we must end the lives of innocents to prolong our own vitality; if we have need to murder so that we might endure, even if it means that we endure until the end of time; then it is better that we should fall down and die amidst the dirt, rather than sin.
Yes, indeed, murder is sin: and the wages of sin is death; though we might have the life of the body, and might go on living until the very Day of Judgement itself, yet on that day we would be found to have no life in us; we would be dead in spirit, and then inherit eternal death. Yet I would much rather die free from sin, and yet have life in my soul, and be raised up to life everlasting by the One Who Is Life.
No, the argument — that the murder of the few can be justified if it prolongs the life of the many — rings false. I have sinned and am cursed with death, and therefore I must die. Should I find a way to ease pain and quench grief, and perhaps stave off death for a time, then surely I will take advantage of it; provided that it does not require me to do any evil; for it is folly to try and stave of death by sinful methods, when sin is death itself.

Jay E. Adrian September 5, 2007 at 6:12 pm

Esau seems to have a pony in this show.

Mary September 5, 2007 at 6:35 pm

No, the argument — that the murder of the few can be justified if it prolongs the life of the many — rings false. I have sinned and am cursed with death, and therefore I must die. Should I find a way to ease pain and quench grief, and perhaps stave off death for a time, then surely I will take advantage of it; provided that it does not require me to do any evil; for it is folly to try and stave of death by sinful methods, when sin is death itself.
A knowledge which is known by natural reason.
“For neither in a trial nor in battle is it right that I or any one else should employ every possible means whereby he may avoid death; for in battle it is frequently evident that a man might escape death by laying down his arms, and throwing himself on the mercy of his pursuers. And there are many other devices in every danger, by which to avoid death, if a man dares to do and say every thing. But this is not difficult, O Athenians! to escape death; but it is much more difficult to avoid depravity, for it runs swifter than death. And now I, being slow and aged, am overtaken by the slower of the two; but my accusers, being strong and active, have been overtaken by the swifter, wickedness. And now I depart, condemned
by you to death; but they condemned by truth, as guilty of iniquity and injustice: and I abide my sentence, and so do they.”

Foxfier September 5, 2007 at 7:04 pm

Esau- as Jimmy mentioned, this isn’t injecting human cells into an animal, at any state of life.
This is identical to the cloning process via which Dolly was created, with two small changes– the species of the DNA and the source of the egg.
http://www.synapses.co.uk/science/clone.html has a really easy to understand explanation. (I know it’s been a few years since my last science class and I had no trouble following it.)
I honestly doubt that anyone here would have a huge ethical problem with this *except* for the source of the DNA– which is human. I’m fairly sure that everyone here is objecting because this creates a human a) for the purpose of killing them and b) which will be greatly disabled if, somehow, they managed to survive the harvest.
Imagine for a moment that someone defines humans as the classic, perfect 46 chromosomes. (Not that hard to imagine.)
That would make kids with Down syndrome less human than these chimeras. (Really not hard to imagine this happening, giving the eugenics going on.)
We honestly don’t *know* if these chimera clones would be able to develop– and I really don’t want to find out, do you?

Eileen R September 5, 2007 at 7:15 pm

This doesn’t seem to be *our* Esau. He doesn’t post like him, no caps, no big emphasis, or have the same ideas about following Church doctrine
Unless it’s Esau on mind-altering drugs, I’d say we’d have either an innocent alternate Esau or an impersonator with a grudge.

Foxfier September 5, 2007 at 8:08 pm

Eileen– oh, good, I thought it was just me…. It could be the real one, but he does seem to be a bit odd, no?

Esquire September 5, 2007 at 9:35 pm

I am reminded of what J. Bottum wrote in The Pig-Man Cometh:

It used to be that even the imagination of this sort of thing existed only to underscore a moral in a story…But we live at a moment in which British newspapers can report on 19 families who have created test-tube babies solely for the purpose of serving as tissue donors for their relatives — some brought to birth, some merely harvested as embryos and fetuses. A moment in which Harper’s Bazaar can advise women to keep their faces unwrinkled by having themselves injected with fat culled from human cadavers…In the midst of all this, the creation of a human-pig arrives like a thing expected. We have reached the logical end, at last. We have become the people that, once upon a time, our ancestors used fairy tales to warn their children against — and we will reap exactly the consequences those tales foretold. Like the coming true of an old story — the discovery of the philosopher’s stone, the rubbing of a magic lantern — biotechnology is delivering the most astonishing medical advances anyone has ever imagined. But our sons and daughters will mate with the pig-men, if the pig-men will have them. And our swine-snouted grandchildren — the fruit not of our loins, but of our arrogance and our bright test tubes — will use the story of our generation to teach a moral to their frightened litters.

Indeed. (Some things really are that simple.)

My Cat's Name is Lily September 5, 2007 at 10:40 pm

“I’m fairly sure that everyone here is objecting because this creates a human a) for the purpose of killing them and b) which will be greatly disabled if, somehow, they managed to survive the harvest”.
That is certainly my objection.
My understanding–and I don’t,admittedly, claim to be the most scientifically literate person on the planet–is, that the idea is to use human beings as the raw material for whatever “scientific advances” that scientists happen to decide to play with.
There are processes all ready in use, which do not involve creating human beings to turn into lab rats. But no, that seems not to be enough for them.
Most of us, upon hearing of “scientific experiments” carried out on Jews in concentration camps are horrified & sickened.
And then, there are others, wholook at one another, scratch their heads, and start planning–as I pointed out earlier–end runs.

Marcel LeJeune September 6, 2007 at 11:31 am

Humans made in labs (at whatever percent) are human beings being used as objects. In and of itself this is wrong. Regardless of nuances or scientific mumbo-jumbo.

Marcel LeJeune September 6, 2007 at 11:36 am

Looks like the Vatican has weighed in on the issue:
Archbishop of Cardiff Peter Smith also voiced concern.
“The decision as to whether or not our society allows the creation of part-human and part-animal creatures for scientific research is of profound significance,” he said.
“The profound ethical question is: Is it right to transgress that species boundary and attempt to mix human and animal natures in however limited a fashion?”
The Vatican also weighed in on the debate, describing it as a “monstrous act directed against human dignity”.
From – http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jh-IB0ZVw1WpYcIlbxcj8wYIeZ8A

mrteachersir September 6, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Hey, at least PETA will protect these humans. They don’t care about humans anyway, but with the “animal acids” in these embryos, maybe they (and other animal-first groups) will finally show some sense and call this practice barbaric and inhumane. Which reminds me, why do animal-first groups want us to treat animals “humanely”? Doesn’t that require humanness? Or did I just open up a whole new can of worms?

Kara September 6, 2007 at 1:02 pm

why do animal-first groups want us to treat animals “humanely”? Doesn’t that require humanness?
Catholic teaching is that “it’s contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.”

labrialumn September 6, 2007 at 2:26 pm

As far as we know, mitochondrial DNA does not code for building a human, it just provides for replicating mitochondria, which provide energy to the cell. It might also have bovine ribosomes, but I don’t know if that would make a difference or not. The difference in the cell membrane might be medically significant, due to selective permeability.
As a result, as far as we presently understand things, the embryo would be a human being, and not part cow.
This sounds more like “Blade Runner” than “The Island of Dr. Moreau.”

Karina Fabian September 6, 2007 at 3:09 pm

What amazes me is that this kind of stuff continues under the guise of “needed stem cells” when other scientists are proving we can do the same work as well or better with existing adult stem cells.
Sadly, the world will continue to pursue chimera technology regardless of the Church’s admonitions. Right now, we are at a cellular and potentially embyonic stage–but what happens when actual living, thinking human/animal hybrids are a fact?
It’s interesting this comes up just as Infinite Space, Infinite God comes into print. Three of the stories in this anthology of sci-fi about Catholicism deal with chimeras and the genetically altered and how society and the Church will deal with them. This is stuff we’re going to have to think about, and not just in the realm of story.
Thanks for bringing this up, Jimmy, and thanks to those who posted links for more info.
Blessings,
Karina Fabian
editor, Infinite Space,Infinite God
http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com or from amazon or your favorite bookstore
http://isigsf.tripod.com

Aristotle September 7, 2007 at 6:05 am

What if it were only 99% human? Then it would be like a monkey.
60%? Then it would be like mold.
Where do we draw the line? What percentage do we mark the cutoff?

Foxfier September 7, 2007 at 6:29 am

Aristotle – the idea you’re trying to riff on is actually 98.5%, and it’s been discredited for a while.
http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v17/i1/DNA.asp has a nice write up.
Chimps don’t even have the same number of chromosomes.
As for the second one, it sounds like a version of the 75% of nematode worm genetics matches human genetics assertion.
Meanwhile, these fetuses would be genetically identical to the person they are clones of, with the exception of the mitochondrial DNA. Generally, mitochondrial DNA isn’t included in a genetic description, since it’s believed to be mostly useful for tracing the mother-line.
In addition, please read this article:
http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90781/6254490.html
A new analysis suggested that the DNA of any two people is about 99.5 percent to just 99 percent alike, instead of what previous studies have indicated 99.9 percent identical

Aristotle September 7, 2007 at 6:38 am

Foxfier, I am referring to active DNA, in which the similarity is 99.6% (confirmed in Wolfgang Enard, Svante Pääbo in the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, September 2004, Vol. 5, Pages 351-378).
If the best resource you can muster is AiG, that’s pathetic. No peer-reviewed publications? Just anti-scientific nonsense?
Nonetheless, it is irrelevant. Let’s say the difference is 30%. It’s not, but let’s say it is.
If we can produce 69% humans, would it be alright then to kill them? After all, they would be less human than the chimps.
Where is the cutoff?

Foxfier September 7, 2007 at 6:56 am

Aristotle – newer research disproves that assertion.
If the best resource you can muster is AiG, that’s pathetic.
If the best defense you can muster is three years old, that is pathetic. I did a quick google to find information that anyone with an eye on the recent news would have a vague memory of– even NBC did a quick review of that news tidbit.
If you’d bothered to read the comments here, you’d know that our cut off is “don’t do it.” Don’t screw with humans just to see if you can.
Oh, and on the anti-scientific slant– this isn’t a question of science. This is a question of morals.

Aristotle September 7, 2007 at 7:02 am

Chickens are related to humans, genetically, at around 60% (depending on how you count).
If the moral is “just don’t do it”, then we can’t kill chickens, because chickens are “60%-humans”.
Now, as to the other issue, of bad references, can you come up with a peer-reviewed article that corrects what was stated in Enard and Pääbo (as well as many other places going back, such as Rozas and Rozas (1999) and Nei and Gojobori (1986))? NBC doesn’t count.

Aristotle September 7, 2007 at 7:11 am

BJ Stevenson, C Iseli, et Al., BMC Genomics, 2007
for a more recent reference to the information.
This was published May 23, 2007, and cites the same figures (confirmed by testing) of the 2004 article (and the earlier articles).
Where is the retraction?

Foxfier September 7, 2007 at 7:28 am

Aristotle — are you being willfully dense? No-one has said “ooh, they look similar to humans. We shouldn’t kill them.”
The topic is cloning a human using an animal egg. It really shouldn’t be to hard to figure out that this is a bad idea. It’s not a matter of “how close can we cut it before it becomes bad?” That’s kind of like asking how many bones one is allowed to break before you should be charged with attempted murder, rather than assault. It’s a bad idea. Just don’t do it.
I repeat my request that you read the rest of the posts here.
For that matter, I really don’t care what you think counts or doesn’t count as a good scientific source. You can’t even be bothered to give references on the information you cite– something even the “unscientific” source manages. Hint: a date and a name isn’t a reference. It’s customary to actually include a title, and polite in on-line circles to include a link if one exists.

Aristotle September 7, 2007 at 7:31 am

But that’s what I don’t get.
I’m not Christian, so that might be part of the problem.
But that’s what I don’t get.
Why is it such a bad thing to take cells that die all the time, that have no intrinsic moral value, and use them to make something non-human (which may have intrinsic moral value, but not value equal to that of a human)?
What’s so bad about that?

Aristotle September 7, 2007 at 7:33 am

Date and name, by the way, are the customary ways to reference properly when writing letters into Physical Review Journal.
If you want more information (including direct quotes, and links), however, I would be happy to supply it.

Tim J. September 7, 2007 at 7:44 am

“Why is it such a bad thing to take cells that die all the time… and use them to make something non-human”
From a materialist perspective, that’s all any of us are… a bunch of cells that die all the time.

JoAnna September 7, 2007 at 8:13 am

From a materialist perspective, that’s all any of us are… a bunch of cells that die all the time.

Yes, we’re all just ugly bags of mostly water. ;) (Kudos to whoever gets that reference.)

Mary September 7, 2007 at 8:45 am

Why is it such a bad thing to take cells that die all the time, that have no intrinsic moral value, and use them to make something non-human (which may have intrinsic moral value, but not value equal to that of a human)?
You are a bunch of cells, of a sort that dies all the time, and what makes you think you have intrinsic moral value?

Aristotle September 7, 2007 at 11:43 am

Though it is true that I am a bunch of cells which die all the time, I am also a person (otherwise, one could not refer to a “single” combination, or even to “I”, so this has already been admitted).
I will accept, axiomatically, that I have worth. “Why?” is an interesting question, granted. But let’s just presuppose I have worth, and that my worth is greater than that of any non-human (groups of cells into a single object that is not defined as an human object).
Questions come to mind: If genetics is the basis by which we measure humanity, how much genetic material needs to be in common with human genetic material for an object to be considered human?
Now, simply stating that something is human does not give it worth. It must be a human person. After all, my skin cells are human, and I do not mourn them when they die.
So, assuming that a zygote is an individual of some species, how do we determine that its species is human? How much of it should be human for it to be considered human?
Otherwise, what other qualities, besides genetics, should be the basis of our judgment?

Tim J. September 7, 2007 at 1:05 pm

“I will accept, axiomatically, that I have worth. “Why?” is an interesting question, granted. But let’s just presuppose I have worth…”
Tsk, tsk… You’ve skipped the difficult – and only really relevant – part.
Why we have more worth than animals is the entire question. We are different from animals, not quantitatively, but in kind. We are a different TYPE of being, not just a different species.
Thus, what distinguishes us from animals is FAR more than a matter of genetics – of counting DNA markers.
It takes no genius to see the yawning chasm that separates us from the apes, no matter how closely our DNA might resemble theirs. The two are not to be mixed. Period. “Similar” is not “the same”.
Thing is, materialistic philosophy can provide no rationale as to why the two should not be combined. Why not? They’re just cells of two different species… we blend species all the time.

Aristotle September 7, 2007 at 1:12 pm

Tim,
I am of the view that there is nothing wrong in blending the cells of two different species.
Why would it be wrong?
What is it that separates us from other species, if it is more than a matter of genetics?
How do we establish that humans have it, and that all non-humans do not have it?
And how should we legislate it?

Tim J. September 7, 2007 at 1:40 pm

“I am of the view that there is nothing wrong in blending the cells of two different species.”
Nothing wrong with it, per se… so long as neither species is human.
“What is it that separates us from other species, if it is more than a matter of genetics?”
Well, animals don’t entertain speculative questions about the nature of their existence, for one thing. That *might* be a clue. They don’t hold debates on genetic engineering. They don’t build even crude Cathedrals.

Aristotle September 7, 2007 at 1:56 pm

I am fine even if the species is human, so long as a human person isn’t being sacrificed for the sake of producing this species (half of what would have been a human person is a different matter, entirely).
My question is purely one of curiosity.
Why does it matter that the cells be human or not?
How human must the cells be before they are human?
Your clues are nice. But what do they break down to, besides mere genetics? What about us makes us human?

Tim J. September 7, 2007 at 2:02 pm

“I am fine even if the species is human”
Color me unsurprised.
“My question is purely one of curiosity.”
I’m sure the little genetic monsters that may emerge at the tail end of all this will be grateful to know that.
“How human must the cells be before they are human?”
Again, it is not a question of quantity, but quality. A being is either human or not.
“What about us makes us human?”
We are rational souls.

Aristotle September 7, 2007 at 2:10 pm

How much human genetic material does it take, as a ratio, in order to obtain a rational soul?

Tim J. September 7, 2007 at 4:14 pm

“How much human genetic material does it take, as a ratio, in order to obtain a rational soul?”
You really think there is an answer to that question? How do you suggest we try to find out? How would we know if we HAD found out?
Plus, that’s a bit like asking “How many water molecules would it take to make water?”. We don’t “obtain” rational souls, we ARE rational souls. Your error, from where I sit, is in thinking that human beings are merely the sum of their parts.
There is no “semi-human” state. A being is either human or not. Is there a line, a demarcation somewhere? God forbid that we should even desire to discover such a thing. Mark Shea’s “Two Stages of History” apply… First “What could it hurt?” and then “How were we supposed to know?”.

Kara September 7, 2007 at 4:36 pm

You really think there is an answer to that question? How do you suggest we try to find out? How would we know if we HAD found out?
If these creatures were roaming about and you were a hunter, how would you decide which has a rational soul and which doesn’t? Could it look like a deer and have a rational soul?

Tim J. September 7, 2007 at 5:16 pm

“If these creatures were roaming about and you were a hunter, how would you decide which has a rational soul and which doesn’t?”
I wouldn’t.
“Could it look like a deer and have a rational soul?”
Again, God forbid we should ever desire to find out.

Kara September 7, 2007 at 5:23 pm

Hunters decide everyday whether something is human or not.

Tim J. September 7, 2007 at 5:29 pm

Kara, I assumed you were posing a hypothetical question involving genetically modified deer/human hybrids…
Kara – think, now… can’t YOU tell humans from animals? Don’t you do it every day? Do you really need to see charts and diagrams to make this distinction? Do you need a formula?

bill912 September 7, 2007 at 6:05 pm

I see our gnostic troll is back under another handle. I suggest we starve the troll.

Kara September 7, 2007 at 6:43 pm

Kara, I assumed you were posing a hypothetical question involving genetically modified deer/human hybrids
Yes, not a problem. Aren’t all deer, in terms of evolution, already “genetically modified” and sharing some amount of DNA with humans? Is there a different test to see if they’re human if the genetic modification happens in a lab? Maybe you have a copy of the test.

Esquire September 7, 2007 at 6:47 pm

Hunters, I would wager, have a nearly 100% success rate in determining that their prey is not human.

Kara September 7, 2007 at 6:57 pm

Hunters, I would wager, have a nearly 100% success rate in determining that their prey is not human.
Judging by external appearance, yes. Is that the criteria?

Mary September 7, 2007 at 7:34 pm

I will accept, axiomatically, that I have worth.
Then you can accept, axiomatically, that this poor chimeras have worth and work on from there.

Esquire September 7, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Judging by external appearance, yes. Is that the criteria?
Judging by the same criteria by which I know my pencil is not my sandwich, my dog is not my cat, and my toilet is not my television.

Kara September 7, 2007 at 8:07 pm

By that criteria, can you tell a bowl of cellular matter from a crowd of people?

Tim J. September 7, 2007 at 9:02 pm

Kara, can I just go ahead and ask “What’s the sound of one hand clapping?” and get it over with?
“By that criteria, can you tell a bowl of cellular matter from a crowd of people?”
Can you? Is this a problem for you? Do you often find yourself, say, mistakenly eating your friends for breakfast? Do you shoot at old ladies and help Whitetail bucks to cross the street?
Do you assume I am communicating with you just by external appearances? Words on a screen?

JonathanR. September 7, 2007 at 9:05 pm

Yep. Pretty easy really. It is the forced density displayed by such inane inquiries that spawned a need for absurd sensualist philosophies.

Kara September 7, 2007 at 9:44 pm

Kara, can I just go ahead and ask “What’s the sound of one hand clapping?” and get it over with?
How does that help you decide if something with X% human DNA is human?
Do you often find yourself, say, mistakenly eating your friends for breakfast?
They’ve started putting human genes in food crops. Does that count?

Foxfier September 7, 2007 at 9:54 pm

JoAnna — *evil grin* Somehow, I don’t think that Mr. R. expected his show to spawn a *defense*.
Bill– Yeah, that’s what I figured, and also why I went to bed once I was satisfied it was the same troll.
Esquire – Would you mind if I use that as a sig?

ronan September 8, 2007 at 1:59 am

“Yes, we’re all just ugly bags of mostly water. ;) (Kudos to whoever gets that reference.)”
It’s from an episode of Startrek: The Next Generation!

Jarnor23 September 8, 2007 at 9:10 am

Now don’t be too hasty, there are remarkable similarities between the contents of the average television and toilet. :)

Tim J. September 8, 2007 at 11:32 am

“They’ve started putting human genes in food crops…”
Examples?

Kara September 8, 2007 at 1:58 pm

USDA Backs Production of Rice With Human Genes
Mommy, Is This a Finger in My Rice Puffs?

Kara September 8, 2007 at 1:59 pm

USDA Backs Production of Rice With Human Genes
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/01/AR2007030101495.html
Mommy, Is This a Finger in My Rice Puffs?
http://www.counterpunch.org/fitz05142005.html

Foxfier September 8, 2007 at 8:20 pm

The grain in the linked article has been spliced to produce human proteins.
This is a lot different from cloning a human using an animal egg.
I’m not entirely comfortable with it, but it’s not as clearly, horrifically wrong.
Oh, and those aren’t food crops. They’re for use exclusively as a way to mass-produce treatments.

Tim J. September 8, 2007 at 9:06 pm

Kara, thanks for the link. I actually took considerable time this afternoon composing a response and – on my honor – lost the whole thing when I errantly struck the wrong key on my laptop.
*Sigh*.
I’ll get back to you Sunday, if time permits.
Long and short; appearances are mighty useful in making judgments of all kinds every day. You judge by appearances as much as anyone. The fact that appearances can *sometimes* mislead does not in any way nullify their usefulness the other 99.whatever percent of the time.
More later.

Kara September 8, 2007 at 9:25 pm

This is a lot different from cloning a human using an animal egg.
I don’t see anyone who said it was the same.
Oh, and those aren’t food crops. They’re for use exclusively as a way to mass-produce treatments.
From the Washington Post article: “The Agriculture Department has given a preliminary green light for the first commercial production of a food crop engineered to contain human genes.”
The company growing the rice has itself also described the products to be sold as food.
And regardless of the intent or how its described, history shows such things nonetheless have a way of ending up in the food supply.
appearances are mighty useful in making judgments of all kinds every day
No one said appearance isn’t useful. Like I already said, hunters decide everyday whether something is human or not. They don’t just stand there and go, “Gee, I dunno.”

Foxfier September 8, 2007 at 9:37 pm

I don’t see anyone who said it was the same.
You did ask why no-one was freaking out about it. I told you a reason why I wasn’t.
The proteins are to be extracted for use as an anti-diarrhea medicine and might be added to health foods such as yogurt and granola bars.
They’re being used to make medications. (Yes, I consider “medical” additives as medicine, even if they’re stuffed in odd places.)
The reference to a food crop is because of the fear of accidental cross-pollination– which is a very good worry, really. Rephrasing, rice is used as food– even if this exact rice isn’t going to be used for food. The class of the plant is “food crop.” The only way you might call the *specific* crops in this case “food” is because of the possible plan to use them to create additives.

Kara September 8, 2007 at 10:03 pm

You did ask why no-one was freaking out about it.
I did not.
They’re being used to make medications.
To quote the company itself, the rice is also being grown for food use, i.e. “supplements in yogurts, meal replacement and performance beverages, bars (for example granola bars) and in nutritional supplement drinks.” Grown as a crop for food use, even if it is medical food, it is a food crop.

Foxfier September 9, 2007 at 4:26 am

Kara, we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. I do not consider vitamin E to be a food product, even though it’s added to food. I don’t care where it comes from.
Although I must point out they’re only *considering* the use you quote. It hasn’t been approved or even decided on as of yet.

Kara September 9, 2007 at 11:38 am

I do not consider vitamin E to be a food product, even though it’s added to food.
You are, of course, personally allowed to consider anything, from vitamin E to a McDonald’s hamburger, not to be food. But the dictionary shows vitamin E can be considered to be food when eaten to provide nutritional support for the body:
food: any substance eaten to provide nutritional support for the body
food: material, usually of plant or animal origin, that contains or consists of essential body nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals, and is ingested and assimilated by an organism to produce energy, stimulate growth, and maintain life
Sometimes, of course, vitamin E is added to food simply to help maintain freshness of the food itself, and not with intention that it provide nutrition to the person. In that case, it would not meet the above definition of food.
I must point out they’re only *considering* the use you quote.
They are also only *considering* the use for treating diarrhea. I haven’t seen the FDA approve it for that use either.
Nonetheless, it is their expressed intention that it be for food use. And has been shown above, it is intention that can make the difference.
To use your example of vitamin E further, vitamin E is commercially extracted from soybeans. Vegetable protein is also commercially extracted from soybeans. While many people might not consider vitamin E or vegetable protein to be, themselves, food crops, many do consider the soybeans from which they’re extracted to be food crops.
To take another example, if you grow corn with the intention that it be used to produce ethanol and not food, is that a food crop? Some would say it wouldn’t be a food crop in that case while some would say it still is.

Foxfier September 9, 2007 at 2:39 pm

The proteins are to be extracted for use as an anti-diarrhea medicine and might be added to health foods such as yogurt and granola bars.
Nuff said.
On food crops: thank you for finally coming around to what I told you several posts ago, as to food crop vs crops which will be used for food.
But the dictionary shows vitamin E can be considered to be food when eaten to provide nutritional support for the body:
Generally, I have a lot of sympathy for this kind of argument, but in this case it’s still wrong.
Because:
Sometimes, of course, vitamin E is added to food simply to help maintain freshness of the food itself, and not with intention that it provide nutrition to the person.
There is no intent for the extract of the rice to be used as a “nutrition” supplement, it’s to prevent what my grandma would call “troubles.” Thus, it’s not added for the purpose of nutrition.
Now, jumping *Back* to the vitamin question–simplest response I’ve got: if you took a vitamin and your mother ask you if you’d eaten, would you be able to honestly say yes, you had? I wouldn’t.
(Snicker– my guy just asked what I was typing about. It took about two minutes for him to finally say “alright, alright, I get the idea….”)

matt September 9, 2007 at 4:34 pm

can you say rat-hole?

Kara September 9, 2007 at 6:55 pm

thank you for finally coming around to what I told you several posts ago, as to food crop vs crops which will be used for food.
Nothing has changed. It is a food crop. It is grown, according to the company, for food use.
There is no intent for the extract of the rice to be used as a “nutrition” supplement, it’s to prevent what my grandma would call “troubles.
Incorrect. The company identifies numerous reported health benefits of the substances to include such broad benefits as anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, immune enhancing and anti-inflammatory, etc. and has formally expressed in writing its explicit “intent” (their very own word) for its use “as supplements in yogurts, meal replacement and performance beverages, bars (for example granola bars) and in nutritional supplement drinks.” That intent includes its use in everyday infant formulas, cheeses, yogurt and other dairy products, health foods, nutritional supplements, functional foods, etc. which are already sold in various parts of the world when made with the bovine-derived counterpart.
Meanwhile, its intended use in the treatment of diarrhea is listed separately and note, subsequently, as an “also intend” (again, their own words) for use as a medical “food” (yet again, their chosen word).
To say “there is no intent for the extract of the rice to be used as a ‘nutrition’ supplement” is incorrect. The bovine-counterpart is already produced and sold for that very purpose today.
if you took a vitamin and your mother ask you if you’d eaten, would you be able to honestly say yes, you had?
Whether I took a vitamin, eaten a cracker or popped an almond, the same issue would still exist in my mother’s view. When she asks if I’ve eaten, she’s asking if I’m hungry or still in need of other nutrition. If I’m still hungry or in need of additional nutrition, that doesn’t mean the vitamin, the lone cracker and the single almond aren’t food. They are.

matt September 9, 2007 at 8:52 pm

rat hole

Elizabeth September 13, 2007 at 5:30 pm

“we’re all just ugly bags of mostly water. ;) (Kudos to whoever gets that reference.)”
I know this one! It’s from Star Trek.
As far as 99.9% humans go, what about Trisomy 18 babies and the like? These are babies born with an EXTRA chromosome! They are humans, albeit, severely disabeled humans, and that’s what this cow-man would be.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Goat September 17, 2007 at 6:54 pm

The most intelligent comment I can think of when confronted with the idea of putting a human nucleus inside a cow egg with the purpose of creating an embryo for “harvest” is AAAAAIIIIIIIYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEE!!!
Ethical and moral considerations aside, I can feel my
DNA squirming. It seems to me that a person would not have to be a Christian, or even religious, or even believe in God, to see that this is a very, very bad idea.
Just at the level of base animal instinct, this is horrifying.

Foxfier September 17, 2007 at 7:24 pm

FNSG– probably the most logical response….

Cornelius September 17, 2007 at 8:46 pm

Human Hybrids
by Peter Eng
British scientists receive approval to insert human genes into cow eggs. If this experiment is successful, this will be a human-cow hybrid with 99.9 percent human gene developing in the egg of the cow.
Is this a solution to a need or an ethical crisis?
How can we look at the stem cell research controversies? What does the Bible say about human-animal hybrids?
Stem cell research is the new frontier in biomedical research. It is based on the hypothesis that stem cells hold the key to curing a spectrum of diseases and injuries for which we have no solution.
The person who has a severed spine may be able to regenerate nerve cells. People with degenerative brain diseases may reverse their condition. A person with a damaged kidney or liver may have the capacity to regenerate the damaged cells. These tantalizing promises make us want to say “Yes” to everything stem cell research has to offer. For many, the only question is, “Can the research go faster?”
The original ethical issue
It is hard to imagine that something with so much potential for good can have ethical issues. The issue has little to do with the reproduction of cells that can replace damaged ones. No one is saying that we should not try to have the capacity to regenerate cells for different parts of our body. After all, that is what the healing process is all about. The body replacing damaged cells with healthy ones in the process of healing.
The issue has been human embryonic stem cells (emcells). These stem cells are harvested from human embryos (usually the excess from IVF procedures). The special promise of these emcells is that they hold the promise of being pluripotent (can develop into any cell), as opposed to other types of stem cells which are not pluripotent. Armed with this thought process, scientists began experimenting with human emcells. This requires the destruction of the human embryos.
Therein lies the issue. Should human embryos be destroyed in the research for cures for diseases?
Most evangelical Christians oppose human emcell research because it destroys human embryos. Supporters of human emcell research argue the morality of the destruction of human embryos mainly on the grounds that the embryos are excess embryos from IVFs, and that they will eventually be discarded.
They also add that many of these IVF embryos are misshaped or deformed without any real potential of developing into life. There is not much said with regard to their underlying assumption that a human embryo isn’t really a person so the destruction of embryos is like the destruction of other cells, like cutting your hair or clipping your nails.
In earlier articles I have explained why we cannot destroy human stem cells in the name of healing diseases. Even secularists who have no concept of our value as humans see the moral issue of taking one life to make another better. This is seen in the countless science fiction representations of clones bred to supply body parts to their human parent.
While the original moral issue will persist, I get the sense that this moral issue with regard to stem cell research may soon lose its importance.
There are two reasons for this potential shift: (1) Recent stem cell research has shown that non-emcell therapies have enjoyed a good measure of success. (Non-emcells are mainly umbilical cord cells and bone marrow cells.) The options with less ethical issues would naturally be the preferred option.
(2) There is now a shortage of human emcells. Despite the claim that human emcell research utilizes these enormous amounts of leftover embryos from IVF procedures, there is a growing shortage of donors. This shortage of human emcells steers researchers into two options: (a) create human emcells for research purposes (which remains repugnant to most) or (b) create human hybrid emcells where no human emcells are destroyed. This is the focus of this article.
The current ethical issue
There is another ethical issue that has gone unnoticed by many. This issue did not originate as a human emcell issue. It involves the genetic modification of plants and animals by splicing the gene from one species and inserting it into another to create certain desirable traits.
This matter started as an issue with genetically modified food. Scientists would use recombinant DNA to insert a fish gene into tomato to make it sweeter, or an insect resistant trait for one plant into a food crop to make it more pest resistant. The human growth gene was successfully inserted into the fresh water carp making it grow four times bigger than the regular carp.
In the quest for cures, a new set of activities are now being done to human genes in relation to other living things.
In 2003, Chinese scientists in the Shanghai Second Medical University fused human cells with rabbit eggs, producing the first human-rabbit chimeras. They were destroyed after a few days. In 2004, scientists in the Mayo Clinic in MN created pigs that had human blood flowing through them (National Geographic News, Jan 25, 2005). At the end of 2005, Weissman of Stanford University managed to insert human emcells into mice (Washington Post, Dec 13, 2005, A03).
In Nov 2006 British scientists applied for permission to replace cow eggs with human genes.
Preliminary approval was given on Sep 5, 2007. If the experiment is successful, this will be a human-cow hybrid with 99.9 percent human gene (non-embryonic source) developing in the egg of the cow. This experiment is done under the commitment that the embryos will be destroyed after 14 days. The motivation for this experiment is the shortage of human emcells. With this move, human-cow hybrid emcells can be produced in quantity. In addition, Reuters reported that 61% polled would support the experiment if the human-cow hybrids helped in understanding some diseases, but only 35% would support it for non-specific research. (Reuters & AP, Sept 5, 2007).
This recent development brings two issues together. The ethics of human emcells and the hybridization of humans. The destruction of human emcells is already addressed. But in the process of preventing the destruction of human emcells, can we create human hybrids? This question itself has two components. Should we create hybrids, and if hybrids are permissible, should human hybrids be created?
It is clear that the Bible was not written to address questions about interspecies reproduction or human hybridization. What we can do is to ask about divine intention. What was God’s intention? To answer this question we look at the processes he set in place in nature.
God’s Intention
God’s intention, as demonstrated in nature, generally suggests interspecies reproduction is not the norm. It is almost always not possible.
There is a very limited possibility of interspecies breeding. We see the cross of lions and tigers, horses and donkeys, and some plant species. The offspring of such interspecies reproduction (F1 hybrids) are almost always sterile, and if they are able to reproduce, the second generation loses that capacity.
In the case of hybrid seeds, it is also apparent that the farmer who uses the hybrid seeds, produced by controlled pollination, is unable to produce a good yield from seeds he saves from his crop. At the same time, these genetically challenged hybrids can have a negative impact on the seed quality of neighboring farms.
According to the process of speciation, one species can naturally subdivide into two species. But these two new species are not able to interbreed once speciation has occurred. The natural tendency is towards the maintenance and diversity of species, not the consolidation of species.
There is very little to suggest any justification from the observation of nature that interspecies breading is biologically desirable. It may be argued that a mule is economically desirable, but its biological lack of desirability is evidenced in the mule being sterile. The same is true of plants.
Hybridization of plants can be environmentally harmful. As these hybrids cross-pollinate with natural plant stock, the natural stock becomes contaminated.
(There is a constant stream of discussion about the issues related to the genetic modification of food. Your search engine will locate these easily.)
There is nothing in Scripture to suggest we cannot improve seed or livestock quality through controlled breeding. But it is apparent that such selective breeding are fundamentally natural processes. There is also nothing in Scripture against some level of human intervention in crossbreeding as long as it falls within certain limits.
At the creation, God commanded each living thing to reproduce after its own “kind.”
“The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit according to their kinds.” (Gen 1:12). “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” (Gen 1:24).
While we can debate what “kind” means, whether it is species, genus, or family, the message is clear enough. In his creative process, God set forth reproductive limitations on a maintenance or diversification mode.
While different strains of corn or apples may be produced from cross-breeding, the process is natural. This stands in contrast to hybridization which uses pathogenic organisms in the process of genetic splicing, with an unknown level of risk.
The hybridization of plants through controlled pollination is nothing compared to genes sliced from a fish and inserted into a tomato to make it sweeter, or human genes spliced into a fish to make it grow bigger.
There is no moral-ethical objection to humans trying to cultivate desirable traits in plants or animals. In fact, it should probably be seen as good stewardship of God’s creation. But when the process is questionable and the actions tend towards the merging of disparate species which can never reproduce under normal circumstances, that line of bioethics has been crossed.
Even without reference to human hybrids, I believe we need to adopt a conservative approach towards all processes of hybridization.
Special regard should be given to the issue of human hybrids. The proposed experiment by the British scientists will produce a being / creature with 99.9% human genes. The good thing is that human life is not lost in the process. But the problem this process creates is no less than the process it seeks to replace. The process is basically a human clone hosted by a cow’s embryo.
Some have called this a potential chimera. This does not adequately bring out the moral issue, though it suggests biological aberration. The proposed process is commonly said to create a human hybrid. On account of this being 99.9% human gene, perhaps it is more the dreaded frontier of the human clone rather than a hybrid.
Despite assurances that this hybrid / clone will be destroyed after 14 days, this process should be viewed as a step towards a certain direction. If this clone can be utilized up to 14 days, is there any qualitative moral difference if we were to keep it for 28 days before using it? Can we also not keep it for 9 months, or 9 years? I don’t normally talk about the danger of a slippery slope. But in this instance, it is truly difficult to see any qualitative difference between a 1-day clone and a 10-year clone.
Conclusion and Disclaimer
I must reiterate the fact that I am not a scientist and wish I know and understand more than I do. At the same time, some of the basic data are secure and these data are very troubling.
I write to you as a student of the Bible applying the Word of God in momentous times. You may be in a position of strength to act on what is right. On my part, I seek only to bring these to your attention so you can act on them.

See article: Embryonic Stem Cells
For the theological discussion on when a person has a soul, see: Origin of the Soul
Rev. Peter Eng is an ordained minister from the Reformed Tradition, but he is truly global in perspective. He served the Lord in various capacities starting from his teenage years in the 70s. His undergrad studies were done in Singapore, his grad studies in the USA, and post-grad studies in the UK, with additional post-grad research in Germany.

Anonymous October 1, 2007 at 10:02 am

Sure they say we are helping man-kind but who knows next we’ll be enslaving this so called ‘lower class human’.

Tusassigh December 8, 2007 at 8:51 am

I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting!

Jason June 3, 2008 at 9:08 am

I agree with John, at the end of the day god is a figment of your hillbilly imagination. I think Embryionic stem cell research should get started ASAP, and jesus freaks like you should get the hell out of the road. Your holding up humanity.
And please, spare me the bullshit about how its ‘unethical’ when the human womb kills billions of sperm instantly upon ejaculation… oh sorry, you guys wouldnt know.
I even know the next mound of horse shit your going to use as a response to that. “Yes but it only becomes a living thing upon entering the egg”… what are you, scientists now? You know the exact point in which life starts?. Even so, who cares, its not like i remembered anything in the womb. They wont even know they existed before they die, which is a much nicer death than somebody with parkinsons desease will get.

John June 3, 2008 at 9:11 am

My comment was deleted. I guess you Church freaks really are narrow minded. Keep living the lie.

bill912 June 3, 2008 at 9:14 am

Very intellectual, Jason. Did your rant make you feel better?
“You know the exact point in which life starts?” Yes. It is at conception, as the science of biology teaches us.

bill912 June 3, 2008 at 9:18 am

I’ll bet John’s comment was deleted due to rudeness, a Rule 1 violation.

bill912 June 3, 2008 at 9:19 am

BTW, Rule 1 violations are usually avoidable if one doesn’t allow his emotions to do his thinking for him.

Jason June 3, 2008 at 9:23 am

Hey John, i thought you were on my side. OH NO THEYVE BRAINWASHED YOU!!!

John June 3, 2008 at 9:26 am

Nah, nobody is brainwashing me anytime soon, theyd just make me angry on account of all the cocain in my system

John June 3, 2008 at 9:27 am

Lol i bet this guy is like some sort of cult leader or somthing, and we’re just undermining his whole site.

Jason June 3, 2008 at 9:31 am

Hey bill912, do you have a youtube channel? Im pretty sure i took a sledgehammer to a debate of yours before. and won.
common sense 1, cult 0

SDG June 3, 2008 at 9:34 am

JOHN:
YOUR OPINIONS ARE WELCOME HERE. RUDENESS IS NOT. PLEASE SEE “DA RULZ” AND KINDLY REFRAIN FROM MALICIOUS ATTACKS ON PEOPLE AND OTHER OFFENSIVE SPEECH. OTHERWISE, CARRY ON.

bill912 June 3, 2008 at 9:35 am

He who allows his emotions to do his thinking for him comes to a battle of wits unarmed, as emotions do not have IQs. Some fine examples of same are above.

Jason June 3, 2008 at 9:38 am

Lets get back to the debate now John. I feel mean, its like picking on Rod and Todd Flanders.
Ok, i just wanna know why its ok for the womb (somthing ‘god’ created) to kill billions of sperm, but not okay for a scientist (somthing ‘god’ created) to disect 1 bio-engineered fertilized egg?
(I use this same stance when chalenging the whole ‘against contraception’ argument aswell, for the record.)

John June 3, 2008 at 9:44 am

SDG YOUR CAPS LOCK BUTTON IS ON.
“Like the National Socialists in Germany in the 1930′s, who put Jews in tanks of frigid water, to measure the effects that hypothermia had on their bodies, and how long it took them to die — all, of course, in the name of helping cure the Aryan Germans of all disease — so too do these latter-day butchers perform ghastly experiments on human lives. So, though I will lament that such evils as these exist in this world, and I will do everything in my power, through prayer and through action to put them to an end, I will not despair; for in the end, we are on the side of Christ, our God; and if God be with us, none can stand against us.”
How is that even allowed on this site??!! Measuring scientists who want to help cure a whole host of deseases to the GASTAPO!!??
You people are seriously messed up.

bill912 June 3, 2008 at 9:45 am

Anyone need any more evidence?

John June 3, 2008 at 9:56 am

Lets be honest, christians are a weird cult faction. You actually creep me out alot.
I dont actually understand why this system of control is still brainwashing people to this day, but I hope for the sake of everybody strong enough not to get sucked in that this religion dissappears into obscurity. Its just too creepy for words.
You christians really need to look at yourselfs instead of pretending your holyer than thou. when your so ashamed of what youve achived in your life you have to take a pop at the great scientific minds of our generation, and liken them to nazi enforcers. Youve gone way over the line.
Brainwashed minion? or Highly qualified professional finding new avenues to help millions of sick people? Hrmmmm my respect goes to… the later.

SDG June 3, 2008 at 10:02 am

JOHN: LAST WARNING. PLEASE MODERATE YOUR SPEECH OR YOU WILL NOT BE WELCOME IN THE COMBOX.
Yes, I’m shouting. Wanted to be sure you heard me. Sometimes people who come flying in here throwing ASCII around aren’t always the most careful readers in the world.
We have lots of long-time dissidents among us. Then there are people who flame out after a few posts because they don’t care about playing nice with others. I’ve got a working theory which one you are.

John June 3, 2008 at 10:17 am

In that case i think warnings are in order to those who are flaming scientists, i dont believe that to be fair. At first all i wanted to do was give an opposing view to the regimented chritian stance on this. However, i heard how much hate was directed towards scientists and decided i would stick up for them.
Scientists are phenomenal people and i just cant understand the logic of having a hate campaign agaisnt the very people who are trying to save millions of lives. We dont all believe in god, and most people just want to see 3 things in their lifetime: space exploration, all deseases cured, freedom.
Stop fighting the knowlegable, they are just moving forward with the very realistic idea that there is no god.

John June 3, 2008 at 10:25 am

“So, though I will lament that such evils as these exist in this world, and I will do everything in my power, through prayer and through action to put them to an end”
If that aint hate speech i dont know what is.

bill912 June 3, 2008 at 10:27 am

He’s right; he doesn’t.

SDG June 3, 2008 at 10:29 am

John,
Intellectually serious bioethical discussion permits raising and discussing questions about the ethics of experimenting on human life. In any such discussion, the historically significant Nazi experiments — which were not performed by “the Gestapo” or “Nazi enforcers,” but by real scientists who actually wanted to benefit people — are an obvious point of reference.
This does not entail the conclusion that individual scientists are evil beings or that they don’t do good in the world.
No intellectually serious discussion about philosophy of religion is going to embrace a proposition such as “All Christians are brainwashed minions of a controlling cult system.” That’s pretty much a non-starter.
Incidentally, bill912 is right. Hate speech has to start with hate, and the sentiment you quote doesn’t advocate hating anyone.

John June 3, 2008 at 10:33 am

Let me narrow this down, see if you get any closer to finding it through your tainted eyes : “and through action to put them to an end”. ‘Them’ referring to the anti-christ scientists, right?. You see it yet?

SDG June 3, 2008 at 10:36 am

John,
The antecedent to “them” is “such evils as these,” which in turn refers to the programs in question, not the scientists carrying them out. The writer is not endorsing or proposing “ending” the scientists themselves.

John June 3, 2008 at 10:42 am

In any case its not like you Americans have anything to worry about, your fundementalist in the white house isn’t going to vito any proposed Stem cell bill. That is untill Obama gets in, and might just take your country in a realistic direction.
Anyway, by that point we’ll wave as we race by in the field of scientific research whilst your still riding your penny farthing of religious intollerance.

Tim J. June 3, 2008 at 10:53 am

John, does your mom know your not in school?

ManAlive June 3, 2008 at 11:04 am

i think warnings are in order to those who are flaming religion, i dont believe that to be fair. At first all i wanted to do was give an opposing view to the regimented atheist/materialist stance on this. However, i heard how much hate was directed towards religion and decided i would stick up for them.
Christians are phenomenal people and i just cant understand the logic of having a hate campaign agaisnt the very people who are trying to save millions of lives. We dont all believe in a meaningless universe, and most people just want 3 things in their lifetime: good food, good company, and a warm place to go to the bathroom.
Stop fighting the theists, they are just moving forward with the very realistic idea that there is no “big bang” without a “big banger”.

bill912 June 3, 2008 at 11:09 am

Brilliant! But we want a fourth thing: good beer!

The Masked Chicken June 3, 2008 at 11:30 am

Okay, that does it. John, I am a scientist. I teach people in the health profession. I also do theory. I am also against human-animal hybrids. Not all scientists are against what the Church teaches. Some believe by faith; some are persuaded by rational arguments. Some do not agree. Do not lump all scientists together. We are working towards the truth. We do not own it.
What I do not see you doing is making an argument – a calm, reasoned argument, against the proposition in this post: that human-animal hybrids are morally repugnant.
You really don’t have to defend scientists. We can do it ourselves.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken June 3, 2008 at 11:41 am

And Jason,
You wrote:
Ok, i just wanna know why its ok for the womb (somthing ‘god’ created) to kill billions of sperm, but not okay for a scientist (somthing ‘god’ created) to disect 1 bio-engineered fertilized egg?
Good grief! Do you know anything about reproductive biology? The womb does not kill sperm, as if they were invading microorganisms (how could any of them get through to fertilize the egg?). The sperm dies, since it is in an alien environment, and is absorbed by the system. In any case, what the womb does not do is kill billions of fertilized eggs or billions of human beings. There is a difference.
The Chicken

ManAlive June 3, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Don’t bother, Masked Chicken. If these folks see no difference between an omelet and an abortion, there is no use arguing.

David B. June 3, 2008 at 3:57 pm

Whoa. SDG, I had no idea this would happen (that John and ‘Jason’ would screech idiotically and hatefully). John and ‘Jason:’ Ei hostes Vitae sunt.

bill912 June 3, 2008 at 4:02 pm

If you look at “their” e-mail addresses, you will see that John and Jason are the same person. He has been talking to himself on this thread.

David B. June 3, 2008 at 4:14 pm

That’s just silliness. :-)

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