It is supposed to be something like 90% of getting the right answer. A Church of Scotland committee has approved a recommendation for the limited use of human embryos for stem cell research in a recent study. The matter will be taken up by the General Assembly next month.
Dr. Donald Bruce, the study's director, noted that it is a matter of considerable debate as to at what stage in development one can talk about human beings having the full attribute of personhood, which led it to be examined in depth in the report. This is a question worthy of examination. Let's do it rigorously and be guided where there's clarity. And where there's not, let's act with caution. Of course, my answer is obvious to the most casual observer.
But here's the thing: This isn't supposed to be some group sitting on the cha-ching of some major intellectual property, or VCs, or entrepreneurs, looking for a hot new revenue stream. These people are supposed to be part of the church. Yeah, the church... The Body of Christ... You know, the mission from God crew working to sanctify the world. Why isn't there a bias toward protecting innocent life here? Rather we are offered that because (only) a majority of the project team (not a consensus) thinks so, the distinctive traits of personhood do not exist until some time after conception. And this "some time after conception" criterion becomes the recommendation that "surplus" human embryos, up to 14 days old, arising from in-vitro fertilization, or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, should be used in stem cells research [emphasis added]. The team did oppose the deliberate creation of human embryos for research by IVF methods, or nuclear transfer cloning, except into serious diseases and only under exceptional circumstances. Nice exception, after all, of course:
It's one thing to take an embryo that's now regarded as surplus to IVF and will be destroyed anyway and make some practical use of it. ...What? Could there be a more arbitrary conclusion? It is no wonder that the Continent is dying.
It's quite a different matter to actually create one...