Stem Cell Research

The Wisconsin State Journal published an article on stem cell research and the Wisconsin Governor’s race .

The controversy boils down to the difference between two types of stem cells – embryonic and adult – and the science can get tedious to follow.

It’s actually not too complicated…….

Mouse embryonic stem cells with fluorescent marker

  • Adult stem cell research (cells taken from adults, approved by the Church) has yielded hundreds of cures to date.
  • Embryonic stem cell research (cells taken from embryos, killing them, forbidden by the Church) has yielded ZERO cures to date.

The superiority of  adult cell research has been recognized widely – Adult Stem Cell Research is Far Ahead Of Embryonic – Aug 2, 2010, USA Today, ABC News, FOX News, Huffington Post, physorg.com, NY Times ……..)

Yet UW scientists (and WSJ reporters) misrepresent the science to support their own research.   They state that embryonic cells are more valuable in research than adult cells, despite the fact that embryonic cells have produced zero cures during 20 years of research.

In online discussion following the article, some readers jump to ridicule those who have religious objections to the morality of killing embryos ( for fruitless research, incidentally).

St. Peter's

As a Ph.D. biochemist who has done research on the regulation of cellular proliferation at Princeton University, I have no difficulty whatsoever in reconciling religion with science.  Good religion welcomes science.  Good science is compatible with religion.  God is not opposed to science, He invented it.  It is when humans try to manipulate science for politics that a discontinuity occurs.

Scientists rarely have consensus on any issue – scientists are not perfect.  They make mistakes,  bad assumptions, they do poor controls; some even misrepresent their results intentionally for advancement/recognition.  Some scientists even cross moral lines when it comes to experimenting on human beings.

This is where the Church (moral expert) comes in. Dismissing the guidance of moral experts on experimentation with human life is as foolish as dismissing scientific rules for good experimental design.

Hippocrates

The scientists who believe that they can violate ancient rules of morality to satisfy their scientific curiosity are recklessly violating ancient teachings which have been the foundation of our culture and of our medical ethics for millennia. These religious and medical teachings include Judeo-Christian and ancient Greek  medical teaching (Hippocrates).  The teachings are common-sense, logical, and designed (primarily by a mind greater than ours) for our welfare and protection.

Checking with the Church (moral expert) on the moral limits of experimentation with human life is as essential as checking experimental design for good controls!

Why is anyone surprised that the route forbidden by ancient morality, which involves the destruction of human life,  has yielded no good scientific fruits to date?

To summarize the politics:

  • Scientists are split on the issue of embryonic vs. adult stem cell research, so pitting science against Church in this issue is unfounded.
  • The adult cell research (with hundreds of cures) is supported by Republicans Scott Walker for Governor and Ron Johnson for Senate.
  • The embryonic cell research (with zero cures) is supported by Democrats Tom Barrett for Governor and Russ Feingold for Senate.