Where do you draw the line in scientific research?

A change to embryo laws in the UK has sparked a furious debate.

Over the Easter period a number of Catholic Church leaders in Britain called for MPs to vote against a change in the current Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which would allow the creation of animal-human embryos for research.

Advocates of the change argue that the hybrid embryos will bring medical benefits and say it could increase understanding of serious medical conditions such as cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

Leading Catholics have said the change would undermine the sanctity of life and that the legislation was a “monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life”.

How do you decide when scientific research has gone too far? And who has the right to question or even stop it?

There seems to be a strong message that hybrid-embryos could greatly benefit the medical world, but at what cost? Post your thoughts here, and we’ll speak later.

80 Responses to “Where do you draw the line in scientific research?”

  1. 1 Brett
    March 24, 2008 at 13:32

    “Leading Catholics have said the change would undermine the sanctity of life”

    Catholics and their Leaders have done plenty throughout history to undermine the sanctity of life and human rights. That argument comming from them is like Nancy denouncing “moral authority”.

    While I’m on the fence about the issue, you certainly cannot deny the potential medical benefits of such research. But are we willing to take that step to start playing ‘The Creator’ in the name of science?

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  2. March 24, 2008 at 13:47

    You have to draw a line otherwise we are going to have the effects of Hitler’s Germany all over again.

  3. 3 Andrew Stamford
    March 24, 2008 at 14:02

    As experimental scientific research which purports to help humans and advances medical research cannot experiment on humans, then why not experiment on embryos? Surely it is better than torturing animals for our benefit? I don’t see anything humane in doing that. If we choose to benefit from medical research then we should bear the risks and the costs for it.

  4. 4 Xie_Ming
    March 24, 2008 at 14:09

    A clergyman would “draw a line for scientific research”?

    That is a disastrous confusion of competences.

    Leaving religious pretensions aside, what about the dangers of such research?

    Junior, or a sociopath, can create very terrible things in his basement today. I will not suggest how, but eventually he will find out.

    The most that one can do is to delay the creation of terrible things, but not stop it.

    My suggestion is therefore to look at the potential results of such research activity, rather than to postulate “moral” claims reflecting a partiocular religious indoctrination.

  5. 5 George USA
    March 24, 2008 at 14:30

    “monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life”.

    There is a great deal of that going round these days.

    Anyone who is trying to stop it, is doing good.

  6. 6 Peter Gizzi
    March 24, 2008 at 14:33

    Hi there
    As I have said before I have bequested my whole body to medical science when I die. Many cannot do this for religious reasons but may well be happy enough to take advantage of the “parts” that can be used to improve the lives of the living. This could include my sperm to produce embryos for medical research. I have no problem with either.

    Do we really want to see people suffer, or do we want to at least try to find if not a cure some relief? Religion has happilly killed in the name of God over centuries. These embryos are surely not going to suffer?

  7. March 24, 2008 at 14:37

    ‘God made man and gave it power over all creations’ (read Genesis) and though that power is limited, human beings are not limited in their persuance of knowledge. when the knowledge in question will help humanity, there is every reason to persue it.
    Catholics have gone down history as some of the biggest persecutors.

    The church must undergo a change in attitude if it wants to remain relevant.
    Catholic leadership is trying to instill fear and antagonise research in science because it feels threatened that science is going to be the most powerful centre for human knowledge and will therefore relegate the church to the pheripery of human concerns.

    opposition to research on human embryos is a demonstration of lack of case for the future development in medical care. As such, the Catholic church doesnmt care at all for the sanctity me human life.
    future of human life lies with science and research. Insights into human nature, organisation and development can only be revealed by science.
    Kipsang kerich-Kenya

  8. 8 gary
    March 24, 2008 at 14:41

    Hello All,
    Here are some thoughts: Knowledge is neutral. Morality is a dimension of motivated activity. Good or Evil may describe a particular way of using or of obtaining knowledge; but not that which is known. Thus, we may morally know about all the interactive features of human and animal cytology or embryology; but we may not immorally learn them. I believe human life begins at conception. I certainly don’t know this in a factual way, nor I think does anyone else. I have just decided to err on the safe side. Thus, I believe use of human embryos to understand these things is murder. However, I believe there can be no objection to acquisition of this knowledge in some moral way.

  9. 9 eric aka eks321
    March 24, 2008 at 15:00

    now the world is following the nazi and the imperial japanese “scientific” eugenic programs of the 1940’s. the bottom line is that once the ethical line of experimenting on human embryos starts there is no turning back. as john ray wrote, the road to “hell is paved with good intentions.” are you naive enough to believe that every single company, corporation, government and radical terrorist group will use this type of research for noble ends? will it end with the creation of people to merely harvest their organs, as in the movie coma? i know of all the claims that embryonic stem cells will save the world, although there not been one single positive outcome in the field of embryonic stem cells. while all the positive breakthroughs have been using adult stem cells, the mass media keeps acting like individuals with ethical values who oppose embryonic stem cell research are backward troglodytes. be careful of what you wish for, the cure maybe worse than the disease. unfortunately, all of the cliches i have used here ring true

  10. March 24, 2008 at 15:02

    There can be no mistake in knowledge development and acquisition, but for what purpose it serves.
    If the use of human embryos is immoral according to the catholic church, how about part of it’s clergy being gay or caught in sex scandals?
    And why should one part of humanity dictate and controll all others?

    Kipsang Kerich in Bomet, Kenya

  11. March 24, 2008 at 15:10

    Since religious differences exist in the world, science is the only common ground that unites us. Knowledge creation brings us together, despite our religious inclinations.
    To oppose research is to oppose human development and peaceful cooperation between different nations and cultures.
    Kipsang Kerich in Bomet Kenya.

  12. 12 John in Salem
    March 24, 2008 at 15:28

    I find it amusing that people will argue about the sanctity of life without being able to even define what it is.
    Look deeply enough into that cell under the microscope and you’re going to see the atoms of basic elements, clusters of protons and electrons held together by strong and weak forces in mostly empty space and bonding together to form organic molecules. I defy anyone to point to one or the other and say this molecule is alive and this one is not.
    There is nothing unique or “sacred” about human beings at that level. I draw the line at research that causes unnecessary suffering, and if the manipulation of some cells in a laboratory can alleviate some of the unnecessary suffering in this world that’s fine with me.

  13. 13 steve
    March 24, 2008 at 15:38

    If God didn’t want us to make human-animal embryos, he wouldn’t have given us the ability to make them.

  14. March 24, 2008 at 15:39

    Let me get this straight…we can sit passively and speak about the genocide in Darfur but can’t do a single bloody thing about it. We can allow children to be returned to their parents who beat and abuse them, only to let them die unprotected. We can put people to death under the death penalty, while completely ignoring religion’s rule of “Thou shalt not kill” and add the footnote that it’s ok as long as the state does it. We can go to war over silly petty religious differences all over the planet, and kill thousands in the name of war without it ever being called murder, because it’s a “cause” worth fighting for. We can allow small children to slowly starve to death while we in developed countries drive the big SUVS and drink the lattes we simply “have to have” and that’s not unethical or considered murder. We can kill abortion doctors, and that’s ok again, be we’re doing it for a “just cause”. We can do all of the above, but we can’t use embroyos to further science and find new ways of helping humanity. Does no one see the total hypocracy in all this???

  15. 15 Will Rhodes
    March 24, 2008 at 15:51

    I suppose how much emotion is put into the argument can sway many people either way.

    I am not a scientist so I cannot make a fully informed argument for or against. If I follow theology I could use the same arguments as the Clergy have – yet I do not.

    I have to be a fence-sitter, though I hate being so, I only have so many hours in the day I can dedicate to reading research – so I leave these debates up to those who have the time, dedication and expertise.

    This is also interesting if you would like to read it.

    Human guinea-pigs with untested drugs for cancer

  16. 16 Brett
    March 24, 2008 at 16:02


    When religion is involved as a motive or reasoning behind decisions or actions of people or groups, they will stop at nothing to try and justify it to themselves, their followers, and their God. Look back through history, Slavery was justified by God, the KKK justified their actions and beliefs through the bible, Nazi’s justified their action through religion. There will be someone else who will skew the word of the God or Prophet to justify whatever actions they want to take which will benefit them while contradictorily denouncing others. I’m sure you could justify almost any action should you skew religion enough. Religion is such a galvanizing force, if your actions are backed by religion it makes them absolute and devine to most of its followers. Thus they can justify unethical or immoral things because God said its O.K. or they have some devine right because god made them better than the opposition

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  17. March 24, 2008 at 16:11

    It is the nature of man to explore and research every avenue for the knowledge simply to know what is there for the good of us all. The discovery of penicillin saved many lives, the invention of the telephone helped us to communicate with each other and so on. The many inventions and discoveries have improved our every day living. It can be argued that some of them may well have been negative on hindsight the atomic bomb may one day destroy us all, the positive side it provided us with energy which is used in various ways.
    The less we listen to religious objection in matters of science cosidering their past history the better it would be for all of us.

  18. 18 John via email
    March 24, 2008 at 16:59

    It’s difficult to tell when scientific research has gone too far. Good research is of great import to humanity. But, if the sanctity and dignhty of human life is compromised then we can say scientific research has gone to far. Research that brings or leads to death is unacceptable. Research that commodifies human life and goes against the natural laws that govern life is also uncceptable.

  19. 19 Peter via email
    March 24, 2008 at 17:00

    Not wanting the Church to repeat a Galileo who died for saying that the world revolve around the sun. As a Catholic I’ll state that leave it to God Sinful or not it is the will of the Almighty . We just decide to be a party or not according to our conscience . We have already went to a point of no return when men made the nuclear bomb. So what else is worse.

  20. 20 Scott Millar
    March 24, 2008 at 17:02

    I don’t draw the line. If the Catholic “god” was so foolish as to create us with the possibility of disease; then he/she/it and the followers are hardly worth listening too.

    -Portland, Oregon

  21. 21 Stephen in Sacramento
    March 24, 2008 at 17:06

    If you are physically unable to have children, you should not have them. Making infertile couples able to bear children will only create more people like themselves down the line. Previously only the fittest survived, now everyone does. This is a temporary cure for those only thinking about themselves in the present time.

  22. March 24, 2008 at 17:06

    I don’t think you can. Or even should, really. Constraints, as you go, but drawing a definite, and\or Permanent, line? No. (Each geneeration has decide for itself what is ‘too far,’ or ‘too much,’ for a specified goal as set by, and for, that generation.)

  23. 23 Waiswa via email
    March 24, 2008 at 17:12

    If anything done by whatever means, is best for human survival and security, then i would draw no boundary over it.


  24. 24 Tom via email
    March 24, 2008 at 17:13

    I really can’t see what all the fuss is about. The decision can either take into account rational, tested medical science intended to reduce human suffering, or, on the other hand, be one which depends on a desperate grasping at the tattered remnants of mediaeval religious dogma, based on a Bronze Age superstition, which does not have a shred of credible evidence to support it.

    Not really difficult at all, is it?


  25. 25 Kwabena via email
    March 24, 2008 at 17:14

    Making a human animal hybrid embryo is unacceptable. We can simply not allow scientists to creat such a life. It is unethical.

  26. 26 Wil via email
    March 24, 2008 at 17:15

    I don’t think you can draw a line on research. Or even should, really. Constraints, as you go, but drawing a definite, and\or Permanent, line? No.
    traverse city, michigan, usa

  27. 27 Kelly via email
    March 24, 2008 at 17:24

    Scientists tend to have no ethical limits and no shame–they would do anything, torture any animal in the pursuit of short term progress.
    If we let science open the door on hybrids it will never close. And when problems arise from their work, they will claim more science is the solution, not common sense or respect for Nature and other species.

    British Columbia

  28. 28 Count Iblis
    March 24, 2008 at 17:25

    The question should really be: “Where do you draw the line in religion influencing our lives”. I would say that religion should never be allowed to overrule well established scientific facts.

    It is a scientific fact that all life from bacteria to human beings are ultimately just molecular machines. This does not mean that it is ok. to hurt animals or humans.

    However, any argument that we should not be able to make human-animal hybrids a few cells large because that would somehow “undermine the sanctity of life” is completely nonsensical. It is based on the false premise that life is a God given miracle.

  29. March 24, 2008 at 17:26

    I think if one can’t have children there you, then you are unlucky.

  30. 30 k. casey
    March 24, 2008 at 17:30

    Why are you consulting a priest of the Catholic Church in this matter. For centuries the Church has taken the most regressive stance in any position of science. Let’s
    not forget the persecution Galileo, Leonardo and other geniuses who dared to challenge the status quo. The church has no moral authority over any scientific position. They are in the business of promoting faith and faith only. Leave them out of scientific discussions.

  31. 31 Scott Millar
    March 24, 2008 at 17:39

    What “natural laws”? Are scientists unnatural? Their humans; thoughts generated in their brains can only be natural. And if they can do it – it is natural! You might think it is immoral but it doesn’t make it unnatural.

    Portland, Oregon

    March 24, 2008 at 17:40

    It is absolutely clear that a fertilized egg is nothing more than a group of cells, that are dividing and forming more cells. Our knowledge of the human body is the result of hundreds of years of careful scientific study. The religious world, namely the Roman Catholic Church, has stood in the way throughout the history of building the store of information we now have.

    I believe that the church, any church, cannot be part of the process. Religious practices or beliefs have nothing to do with scientific research.

    A group of cells is not a human being, nor even part of the species. Just cells.

  33. March 24, 2008 at 17:41

    Hi to all of you my Precious friends. I’m a 4th year medical student, and I will never accept to create a ‘monster’ inorder to treat a patient of mine. You can’t correct what’s wrong by doing something which is totally wrong. I’m feeling so excited about stem cell researches. And I have a dream that one day Cancer, Diabetes Mellitus, and other chronic diseases will become from history thanks to stem cell researches. But treating patients by creating ‘monsters’ ??? No ! No ! No ! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  34. 34 Brett
    March 24, 2008 at 17:42

    30 k. casey
    March 24, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Why are you consulting a priest of the Catholic Church in this matter. For centuries the Church has taken the most regressive stance in any position of science. Let’s
    not forget the persecution Galileo, Leonardo and other geniuses who dared to challenge the status quo. The church has no moral authority over any scientific position. They are in the business of promoting faith and faith only. Leave them out of scientific discussions.

    Exactly! If Catholics or other religions don’t like this, they need to pray about it. Ask their God to intervene. As K. Casey points out, when Gods followers get involved on their divine being’s ‘behalf’, they do quite enough to botch scientific progress, among many things.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  35. 35 Scott Millar
    March 24, 2008 at 17:47

    There are degrees of life. Even IF you would like to call it a human life -a brain dead human on life support is hardly alive, even though they might be a human life. There is clearly a distinction to be made, and its the size of an elephant.

    -Portland, Oregon

  36. 36 Tom via email
    March 24, 2008 at 17:49

    “Leading Catholics have said the change would undermine the sanctity of life and that the legislation was a “monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life”.

    They are projecting their own faults onto others. Religion is the worst “monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life” there ever has been in history!

    What gross irony!

    Bend, OR

  37. 37 Lindsay
    March 24, 2008 at 17:50

    Lack of religion has nothing to do with “social breakdown”. It has to do with the lack of a compassionate community. We are so consumed with money, fame, and the individual that we are disregarding other humans.

    Catholics have no right to say they are for “humanity” when they constantly put down women, gays and the use of birth control. And, the fact that they have persecuted many of those who are non-believers. Hypocrites!!

    -Portland, Or.

  38. 38 Scott Millar
    March 24, 2008 at 17:51

    GOOD – then, if any life saving therapies are created from these “monsters” please don’t use them to save a life. Let your patients die. Will let you be the monster!

  39. 39 Scott Millar
    March 24, 2008 at 17:53

    GOOD – then, if any life saving therapies are created from these “monsters” please don’t use them to save a life. Let your patients die. We’ll let you be the monster!

  40. 40 John in Salem
    March 24, 2008 at 17:57

    Many scientists believe that stem cell research and regenerative medicine may very well be able to double or triple the human life span within the next few decades. If you think this is “unnatural” then by all means, don’t get in line when it’s offered.

  41. March 24, 2008 at 17:58

    The religious objection is a bit far fetched. I don’t think one should be so sensitive when ultimately we are all trying to make our lives more worthliving and enjoyable.

    If the argument is about interfering with Nature’s or God’s will, then one should not even be having medicines when falling ill. What about life-saving surgeries? Aren’t then doctors interfering with what the God’s will?

    I think the advocates of the change in the current Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act do have a vaild point when they say it would help them understand diseases better.

  42. 42 Ray LePine
    March 24, 2008 at 18:02

    Render unto science the things which are science’s, and unto God the things that are God’s. After all, if it were left up to the religious, we would still believe the earth is at the middle of the solar system

  43. 43 Tom via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:07

    This is a good question to address but Religionists have absolutely no credibility in it because they have created supernatural beings out of thin air and they have abused and oppressed humans with their imagined creation every since. Religionists call it by various names, God, Yahweh, Allah, etc. Religionists are the ultimate hypocrites in this! Their lack of reverence for human life is exposed by their use of supernatural forces to abuse humans.

    Bend, OR

  44. 44 Katie via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:08

    Although I feel sorry for couples who cannot conceive,

    What gives biological children more value than adopted?

    There are millions of orphans and foster children needing parents around the world.

    Katie in Portland.

  45. March 24, 2008 at 18:10

    Where do you draw the line in scientific research?

    When scientific research detrimentally effects the quality and personal choices of a individual and I determine a human embryo as a human individual in the developing stage of it’s life.

    It seems to me ghoulish to use the reproductive process whether outside of ones species or to the demise of another of that being to produce T-cells.

    Instead of embryonic research, medical science needs to concentrate it’s endeavors to trigger the human body’s ability to produce it’s own T-cells and send them to the areas that need regrowth and rejuvenation.

    When a human being regrows a cut off appendage by stimulating the production of their own T-cells that seems the way to go.

  46. 46 Thea Winter - Indianapolis
    March 24, 2008 at 18:15

    I purchase DNA (both human and animal) for a USA company. I am also a christian. The human DNA is used for drugs for human consumption and the animal for animal consumption. I am not sure what we would get if we mix the two up.

  47. 47 nicholas kariuki muthaara
    March 24, 2008 at 18:16

    science and religion should learn to live together.

  48. 48 HanaZ via text
    March 24, 2008 at 18:25

    The church is just jealous, seeing the “secret of life” escaping their realm. A mind remembering love poems is the treasure of humanity. A cell is not! HanaZ, Prague

  49. 49 Rex via text
    March 24, 2008 at 18:26

    Much as science should be promoted and supported to improve human life, everything should be ethically and morally acceptable. I dont think it is right to combine human cells and animal cells.
    Rex, Malawi

  50. 50 Prince via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:31

    Q. “How do you decide when scientific research has gone too far?”

    A. When man begins to act as if he were infallible as a scientific researcher that uses the DNA or genes for his research, he certainly has gone too far. When it is established that a scientific research is inherently imprecise, flawed, hazardous, harmful or deadly, it certainly has gone too far

    Q. “And who has the right to question or even stop it?”

    A. Anyone who suffers, is likely to suffer, or has suffered any effects due to the research, or is exposed to the research product, its effects or possible effects, has the right to question or stop it. Anyone who has a person who suffers, has suffered, or is likely to suffer any effect due to the research, or is exposed to the research product, its effects or possible effects, BUT who cannot question or stop it
    — e.g., a child, an old, a politically incapacitated, or an economically disadvantaged or incapacitated person — has the right to question it or even stop it

    Prince Pieray Odor
    Lagos, Nigeria

  51. 51 Eric via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:32


    science is by nature amoral. Historically, religions have proven themselves rather immoral and acting as it please its own interests and purposes at a given time. The christians, despite claiming love of all, created an army out of their “peaceful” monks for purpose of cruisades.
    So, what should be done and by who?
    I think that science should be given the tools to work out issues such as genetic diseases. But it is the role of the politicians to control the outcomes. Europeans were leaders in GM food, but people elected representatives to say that they do not want it on their plates.
    So, here it is the same. You let science work out solutions, but you can just legislate on the limits of social acceptability of commercial uses.
    Therefore, MPs should vote for the changes proposed because science cannot be stopped. If not UK, another country will go for it. But MPs must work on another text to express what will be acceptable practical use of any discoveries. During that debate, all faiths can and must participate because that is democracy, but not on the debate of scientific researches. If we do it the other way around like believers would like, then we should stop all researches on the human body and others because it could result in destroying life. So, should military researches be stopped?!?

    Eric (Netherlands)

  52. 52 Joe via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:32

    The only role religion or a church should have in discussion about cloning is the role of speaking for God. If they cannot do that, I would rather have my grandmother consulted about the ethics and morals of embryonic science since she was a wonderful charitable soul. Can these clerics speak for God? Should not we seek his advice? Surely. But if the religionists cannot or do not speak for God, we should look for that voice elsewhere.

    Joe, USA

  53. 53 Addy via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:33

    Hello. Science overstepped the line with Dolly, the cloned sheep, a few years ago. Now,its going farther.

  54. 54 Robert via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:33

    Does a hybrid embryo have human rights? Animal rights? No rights?

  55. March 24, 2008 at 18:34

    Hey Scott… By the time such technologies reach my Iraq, may be 200 years will pass. So don’t you worry. I won’t have to make such a decision because hopefully I won’t be alive by then ! :). No, seriously. In my opinion if we only seek for our survival and existance and ignore any ethical or moral values then we shouldn’t be called ‘HUMANS’, may be we should be then called ‘Higher Members of the Animal Kingdom’, but not ‘HUMANS’ at all. Please guys, show some respect to the very unique and very sacred ‘HUMAN GENOME’. And remember, when you mess up with nature, then nature will respond in a very violent and disasterous way. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  56. 56 Willem via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:35

    If you are a vegetarian, protest is understandable. Otherwise it is quite contradictory because if one eats meat, one introduces animal matter into ones body, daily. What is more, at a moral expense of a life not seldom brutally slautered, which does not seem to trouble our ethical friends in the least.
    This animal cell research has no repercussion on human or animal life, whereas it helps unfortunate humans who have these serious defects.

    I believe the church should welcome this developement.


  57. 57 Jennifer via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:36

    A question:
    They are starting to be able to extract stem cells from fat cells, would you have objections to stem cell research if the cells did not come from fetal cells?

    Mount Pleasant Michigan Usa

  58. 58 Prince via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:37

    The man who telephoned said that he supports stem cell research because he has Parkinson’s diseases and its application has made him better.

    My question is: Has the bio-science researchers and, or, medical people, told him the FIRST cause of his Parkinson’s syndrome, not an opportunistic or secondary cause?

    My point here is that they cause diseases and return to claim to want to cure them using lies, deceits, and exaggerations that catch on people’s emotions or selfishness.

    We must find out causes and deal with them and not adjust to effects that are caused deliberately by the bio-scientists and stem cell researchers, while using lies, deceits, and exaggerations that catch on people’s emotions and selfishness in order to do what they want to do.

    Lagos, Nigeria

  59. March 24, 2008 at 18:40

    the church is faced with the dilemma of letting go of it’s hold on humanity, and accepting that it’s policies have been detrimental to human progress or remaining irrelevant and thereby loosing more meaning in the current age.

  60. March 24, 2008 at 18:46

    When we’re discussing issues of medical ethics, we have to deal with the fact that humans do not behave rationally en masse and never have. I am not one of those who says “the forward march of technological progress is inevitable, and cannot be stopped,” which suggests that regulating new and possibly dangerous technologies is futile. But we do have to recognize that the regulations will never follow from calm, rational discussions (much as I wish they would) — the failed ideal of the European Enlightenment.

    Why, for example, have nuclear weapons been used only twice so far since their invention, despite the failed efforts to prevent their proliferation? The reason is not calm, rational argument of course, but rather (well-justified) fear — in this case, functioning in a very positive regulatory way for preservation of the species.

    But what was necessary for fear of nuclear weapons, for example, to function to our benefit, was information. If the concrete horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and other consequences of large-scale nuclear war had remained unknown, hidden or covered up, they quite possibly might have been used again in later conflicts. Likewise, the same can be true of other scientific and technological innovations. So one of the most important elements in medical ethics is absolutely free flow of information and knowledge. Thus investigative journalists, whistle-blowers, and scientists not working in the private sector (where secrets are often jealously guarded for their commercial potential) play an extremely important role.

  61. 61 Lubna via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:54

    Hi. The job of the doctor is the correct what is abnormal, to turn what is abnormal into what is normal, not to create something which is abnormal inorder to correct what is abnormal.
    With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  62. 62 Terry via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:54

    The church has no moral footing on stem cell research. The church has tortured and murdered more innocent people throughout it’s history than any other institution known to human kind. Give me a break!

    Boston MA

  63. 63 Rev Kuzipa Nalwamba via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:55

    There is a limit to how much we can justify in the name of alleviation of human suffering but it is not the same as elimination of all suffering or that anything at all is justifiable if the end is so called care for others. Where is our morality.

    Rev Kuzipa Nalwamba, Singapore

  64. 64 Rev Kuzipa Nalwamba via email
    March 24, 2008 at 18:56

    We haven’t fully found out what will happen to us as a result of genetic engineering of the food we eat. How can we do something like creation of animal-human embryos for research? We will never know the consequences.

    Rev Kuzipa Nalwamba, Singapore

  65. 65 Kiptoo via text
    March 24, 2008 at 18:57

    Research on human DNA for the purpose of improving man s survival and adaptability is positive. Rather than criticise researchers lets support them.

  66. 66 Thea Winter - Indianapolis
    March 24, 2008 at 18:58

    I understand that no mixing of the DNA will happen. But how far do we want to open this pandora’s box? I say we should not. Remember what happened when Adam and Eve ate the apple and gained knowledge.

  67. 67 Paulo
    March 24, 2008 at 18:58

    Why is it that scientists are arguing the spiritual and the Church arguing the physical? Religion tells us that the soul is much more important than the body… so why then is the Church obsessing on the flesh? We protect anything that’s considered part of the human species? What about something that thinks and is aware of its own existence? Apparently, a thinking being, according to the Church, has fewer rights than a mass of tissue that is incapable of thinking. A monkey or a cow are aware of their own existence. A single human cell is not. Why should something which has no more grasp of its existence than a chair or a rock (and thus cannot possibly VALUE that existence) get more right to be than something that is very aware of its existence and values its own life?

    To me, it’s not about homo sapien or not homo sapien. It’s about a state of consciousness. It’s about what we might consider a “soul”… Ultimately, however, any line we draw is going to be arbitrary. Any date we set or criteria we decide upon is going to be based on some mostly meaningless factor, and someone out there is unquestionably going to object.


    Paterson, NJ

  68. 68 Paula via text
    March 24, 2008 at 18:58

    As a listener, I would have liked to have a Muslim view of the current topic. I have Sickle Cell though I would like it to put an end, I don t support Hybrid embryo.

  69. 69 Scott Millar
    March 24, 2008 at 19:03


    There is much about “nature” which already appears to be violent and disastrous such as hurricanes, earthquakes and even disease. If nature dishes it out, who is to say it isn’t normal for humans (nature) to do so also? I don’t think it is monstrous, but even if you did, why is that unnatural?

    If we use the same logic to judge Medicine as you have used to judge this issue, then medicine is probably not the best profession to be in – if you are against the unnatural as you have alleged.

    You skirted the issue of should these “monsters” generate some cure, technology or medications – hypothetically will you use them?

  70. 70 Jonathan
    March 24, 2008 at 19:52

    Why is it that we give people of faith etc a say in debates such as this? Are they truly qualified to make sound arguments? At the root of Christian faith there lies a giant assumption that man was created etc. Can we please have this argument without bringing faith into it. A humanist argument? People of the faith have no credibility in debating such matters, becuase there beleifs are out of date and out of touch. There is a moral debate, but not in the eyes of some god!



  71. 71 savane
    March 24, 2008 at 20:42

    My immediate reaction (and being Catholic has nothing to do with my reaction), is NO! ENOUGH!! I’m not sure that humans and other animals should mix this way in the name of science!! Did you ever watch the comedy movie, The Animal? Guy has bad accident and is put back together with several different animal parts, which enable him to swim like a dolphin, sniff out drugs and other contraband like a dog and the stamina and endurance of a stallion! There’s something Mad-Scientist about the whole thing!

    God made man, man makes and studies in. The medical field but this, mixing human and animal genes in the name of science, is where I draw the line!

    Science helped me have my two daughters. I’d have lost my first-born in my second month of pregnancy and every day after that if medical science and my wonderful doctors hadn’t intervened. She was born at 28 weeks, 1.9kgs, 22cms, healthy, screaming at the top of her lungs (a good thing!) strong-willed and determined to get on with life. On the day she was born, I was bleeding heavily, had pre-eclampsia, and spent the day counting the number of times I felt her move, trying to hold on so that the steroids my doctor said were needed to rapidly strengthen her lungs would work. We were both given a 30% survival rate and we did, after 3 days in ICU. She’s eleven now, still strong-willed intelligent, almost as tall as me (5’4″) and outdrives me on the golf-course! My second daughter was born 5 years later, after 3 miscarriages (over 4 years). She was born at 38 weeks, twice her sister’s weight and height, with incredible lung power, a natural ear for music (she sings all the time, can’t help but dance when she hears music and is sitting her Grade 1 piano exam in June this year). I know that without medical science they wouldn’t be here and neither would I. Being a mum of girls, I’ve always wanted a son – that special bond my mum has with my brother, after 3 girls – and have a tinge of needy wanting every time I hold a baby boy, my girls are ‘papa’s girls’ to their core! I can’t get pregnant again – I had more serious complications after our second child.

    I’m sure science could make it happen one day. For my husband and I, the human-animal mix doesn’t work for us. Our son will be born, not out of our hearts and via my uterus , but purely from our hearts – we will adopt our son.

    Thank you medical science, this is where we draw the line!
    Nairobi, Kenya

  72. 72 George USA
    March 24, 2008 at 21:07

    The question is no longer do the ends justify the means?

    Today evil is done for profit, plain old vanilla $$$.

    The Catholic Church is right.

    By the way I am a Scientist, but I do not play one on TV.

  73. March 24, 2008 at 21:21

    A man who telephoned during the programme expressed support for stem cell
    research because, as he said, he has Parkinson’s diseases and its
    application has made him better.


    He exhibited selfishness because he promoted the murder of unknowable number of infants who have not had the opportunity to enjoy life at all in order to continue to live, although he has lived for not less than seventy years!

    My question is: Has the bio-science researchers and, or, medical people, told him or anyone the FIRST or ULTIMATE cause of Parkinson’s syndrome and the new diseases that now characterise our novel science world, despite the promises, ab initio, by bio-science researchers, and the improvements in their knowledge: FIRST or ULTIMATE cause, and not opportunistic or
    secondary causes?

    My point here is that they cause diseases and then use the diseases that they cause as reason to continue the perpetration of their evils, and they NEVER take responsibility for the physical and mental diseases, deaths, deformities, and infertilities that they cause. They tell lies, deceive, exaggerate, make false promises, boast of precision and 99.99 percent success, and claim “no side effects or “minimal side effects”, very freely, or without any ping of their conscience, and shamelessly too, in order to get the approval of the public.

    As a researcher, I recommend that scientific researchers MUST research to discover CAUSES and to remove or destroy them; and not pursue researches that merely provide management therapies or EFFECTS treatment. Ordinary people trust us and we must not take advantage of their ignorance or trust. May God the Creator, the god of big bang, or the god of evolution deal very severely with scientists who takes advantage of ignorant people or the people who trust them and use what they produce based on trust.

    Prince Pieray Odor
    Lagos, Nigeria

  74. 74 Jonathan
    March 24, 2008 at 21:39

    The faithful are morally and philosophically bankrupt!
    They should not have a say!

  75. 75 Leonet Reid
    March 25, 2008 at 00:04

    I am a fervent follow of science and i am also a devout catholic. The morality of Embryology cannot be settle by the many ad hominem that Anti-catholics and catholics throw at each other. The advancement of science is beneficial for the worlds existance but it can become harmfull when Fetile embryo are cultured to be used as test Genipigs. Let us first start with other fetile animals and observe them. We share similarities in our fetile months before birth. use them and save the children of the future. we have a deficit in the birth rate dont add to this rate, the the children live.

  76. 76 Neal H
    March 25, 2008 at 04:22

    The church has as much right to weigh in on scientific matters as scientists have of meddling in church doctrine….exactly none.

  77. March 25, 2008 at 04:41

    I was trained as a scientist and taught science for many years; retired now. Problem: there used to be a clear and distinct line between science, i.e., the advancement of pure knowlege, and technology, the beneficial and/or useful application of that knowlege. That line has been lost. Lost to expediency, to greed, to personal advancement, to corporate and/or political gain, wealth and power. Result: all the short-sighted and ill-advised applications of scientific findings, the solutions to problems that resulted in bigger and more dangerous conditions than those they presumably aimed to address. Big and small, the examples are legion and known to us all. From the global ecological mess and Earth’s systems out of balance, to food additives, fast foods, the obesity epidemic, allergies, etc. etc. And now, the latest of hi-tech misapplications and ready-made insanities: bioengineered crops and animals, biofuels, and human-animal hybrid embryos! Hubris at levels never seen before: “because we can, therefore we will and we do!” Gain is involved, acceptable rationalisations justify it, and we have lost discrimination, a sense of our human limitations and our responsibility to and for the future. Tomorrow’s little surprises, spinoffs from ill-advised tinkerings beyond our control, that is no concern of ours! Mankind has lost itself and doesn’t know it!

    You ask, where do we draw the line? Answer: Where the health and well being of the planet and its inhabitants and the integrity of living systems could, even remotely, be at risk. Where we cannot predict or foresee consequences running amok and beyond our control. Where our current insights and knowlege are still insufficient or inadequate to the task proposed. Where profit, gain, clout and self-seeking motives lurk and hide, obscuring vision and integrity. That’s where the line is drawn. But…, by whom?

    For once I must agree with Catholic prelates! We toy at the boundaries of madness on more than one front!

  78. 78 John Smith
    March 25, 2008 at 17:54

    Everyone understands the Church’s moral obligations to a society and I try as best as possible to be open an unbiased. From my point of view, humankind expends so much effort trying to cure itself that it invariably causes more harm (open the Pandora’s Box.) A simple law of science says for every action, there is equal an opposite reaction and modern medicine is littered with proofs that this law holds true. By creating these embryos who knows what will come next. Some brilliant person is going to figure that these organs will be more viable if we allow the embryos to mature to a stage where the “creature” is able to exist without some sort of artificial support. What then?? Do we rewrite the laws after selling more of our morality out to science. There comes a point where we need to allow nature to just take its course.

  79. 79 Jonathan
    March 25, 2008 at 19:48

    Who is to say what nature’s coutse is?? Are we not the products of nature? Are our behaviours not natural??
    Why can’t our minds be just as natural as a bird flying etc? The notion that we are outside nature is a Christian understanding of our place, and is why we should keep faith out of this arena. We should only argue from what we know for sure. We should not argue from what we want to believe. We need to refine what is moral in these cases. To simply assign to a group of human cells the name “alive” might need to be debated a little more before we start freaking out over what some iron age philosophy has to say about this… The church is not a beacon of morality. It might have once been, but it is no longer the centre for human morality. After all Christians are only Christians becuase of the region they are born into..

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