The Bioethics of Therapeutic Cloning:
A Brief Primer on the Issues

Cloning — By on May 23, 2005 at 2:37 am

“Humankind has now embarked into the ‘Age of Therapeutic Cloning, ‘



  • http://www.unpartisan.com/articles.php?id=1899 Unpartisan.com

    Bush promises to veto bill easing stem cell research

    President Bush pledged Friday to veto bipartisan legislation that would ease restrictions on embryon

  • Septeus7

    Quote: The progressive International Center for Technology Assessment, for example, highlights the concerns that cloning will lead to the exploitation of women:In recent testimony, one researcher stated that stem cells might be able to provide up to 1.7 million therapies per year. This would require a minimum of 5-8 million human eggs per year – assuming a very optimistically high success rate of 1 stem cell culture out of 3-5 clonal embryos. Where will researchers get these millions of eggs?
    Wrong Joe…they will avoid such problems by harvesting eggs from female fetuses which don’t count in some people’s minds.
    The biggest problem from cloning won’t be from human cloning but from chimeric cloning or post-human cloning. The scientist thinking that they are saving mankind will unlease a genetic nuclear bomb into our genomic evolution. No one can stop this just no one can say what end results will be. One thing for sure its gonna be one wild ride.

  • http://sddc.blogspot.com corrie

    Handbasket? What handbasket?

  • bjs

    In light of this post, here’s an absolute ‘must read’.
    http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/gurdon200503220755.asp

  • brandon

    Septeus:
    Don’t see why chimeric cloning is a problem for genomic evolution. By your position we are a process of genomic evolution and hence our actions are the results of the latest developments in genomic evolution. In the future it may be that humans might not exist as they do now, or at all, but it doesn’t really matter. Evolution will likely arrive at the best solution in the end.
    Can we actually take eggs from female fetuses now? Has anyone actually done it? Is it technically possible but 20 years away? But I don’t see why you would bring this up as an argument against Joe’s post since it presumes taking life and/or liberty from people. Not really an argument with common ground. I sincerely doubt that it is easier and cheaper to extract eggs from female fetuses than it is to extract them from adult fetuses. The exploitation of women still stands even if you do extract from fetuses. Except now it extends to both women and men since abortion doesn’t usually have negative effects limited to the mother. Oh, and human rights too. Hello China 2 child policy, now they have a better reason to do that.

  • rob

    Um, you people are crazy. there is no God. Never was.
    Get over your infancy and join the human race.
    Oh you beleive in the God of Abraham? The baby killing pro-rape guy? that’s explains quite a few things. Want more? Your “god” of fantasy allows slavery. You can even sell your own daughter into slavery if you want. Need a wife, lay by the road and rape a woman, then make her your wife!
    Here’s some advice, next time you need a myth, don’t use one that a proven murderer.
    OLD TESTAMENT SCORECARD:
    God kills 371,186 people.
    orders death of 1,862,265
    Nice world ya got here peeps!

  • bjs

    Um, Rob: I find it interesting that you capitalized ‘God’. And that’s all I have to say about that.

  • asdf

    Hey Rob, who pissed in your cheerios??

  • http://sddc.blogspot.com corrie

    http://www.jjandtracy.com/ – the face of a “surplus embryo” (ht – the Corner)

  • http://criesinthenight.blogspot.com Shipwrecked

    Nice post guys. Let’s not forget that potential 2008 presidential candidate George Allen recently came out on the wrong side of this issue, kinda.
    if it works, click here

  • brandon

    oh, rob, come now. You forgot to mention the flood. But we don’t have any numbers on that.
    On the other hand, you forgot the 10 BILLION plus he’s given life to.

  • bjs

    I once heard a statistic (don’t know if it’s true but it’s interesting) that for every 1 person alive today, there are 15 deceased. So 6.5 billion or so today * 15 = approximatley 97 BILLION.
    And all those lives are God’s to take. We are merely on loan.

  • Larry Lord

    bjs
    “We are merely on loan.”
    Devastasting logic! Perhaps that’s the sort of wisdom that Jim Dobson imparted to Trent Lott recently:
    ————
    “James Dobson: Who does he think he is, questioning my conservative credentials?” Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said in an interview. Dobson, head of the conservative group Focus on the Family, criticized Lott for his efforts to forge a compromise in the fight over the judges. Lott is still angry. “Some of his language and conduct is quite un-Christian, and I don’t appreciate it,” the senator said.
    ————————————-
    Looks like even Trent “We Wouldn’t Have Had All These Problems” Lott knows a power-obsessed theocrat when he sees one! Heh.

  • Larry Lord

    “Cloning is a form of reproduction in which offspring result not from the chance union of egg and sperm (sexual reproduction) but from the deliberate replication of the genetic makeup of another single individual (asexual reproduction). ”
    This is very misleading. The term “cloning” encompasses methods can include the duplication of a cell which not even the most extreme religious fundamentalist would refer to as “an individual.”
    “cloning that results in the creation of an embryo for subsequent destruction ”
    Like most cells created for in vitro fertilization purposes.
    “Due to missing, but crucial interactions between the sperm and egg, genetic reprogramming errors’ are inherent to cloning. This leads to random, widespread genetic ‘imprinting’ and ‘epigenetic’ defects that are both known causes of cancer. In addition to the ‘epigenetic’ defects, cells derived from cloning that are injected back into the donor are rejected because of epigenetic mis-expression, genetic differences due to mitochondrial DNA, and the incompatibility of cells too immature in development to interact with adult tissue environments.”
    Good LORD! A rational scientific argument against a medical procedure???? On this blog, of all places, where science and scientists are routinely mocked for their “materialist” agenda.
    “Even pro-cloning scientists like Janet Rowley, who compares the timeline for finding cures using cloning to the

  • http://alangrey.blogspot.com Alan Grey

    Darnit Joe. Do you have a link to my posts in progress directory? Good post.
    Due to the limited nature of research funds, it certainly seems a lot wiser to invest in Adult Stem Cell Research which has proven time and time again to have successful benefits. Embryonic Stem Cell Research just seems to cause tumors…
    Larry, “Here we are again — “absolutely no evidence of producing results”. Really? How many experts agree with Joe’s conclusion that there is “absolutely no evidence” that embryonic stem cells will produce beneficial results? If what Joe claimed was true, then why would George “Don’t Destroy Life to Create Life” Bush permit the use of existing embryonic stem cell lines?
    We needn’t spend too much time pondering the answer, because Joe is wrong. Dead wrong. And intentionally wrong.”
    So Larry…please outline the number of cures that embryonic stem cell research has achieved for humans? Joe has a list of 58 success stories for adult stem cells, and for embryonic stem cell research all we have is your hot air.

  • Jim

    You forgot one reason here, Joe. Nobody is going to get rich on adult stem cells, but somebody may if they can patent human tissue from embryonic stem cells. No, Larry, no, those noble scientists couldn’t be…Republicans who want to enrich themselves, could they?
    Of course, you (Joe) are correct in pointing out that there are 60-70 current uses of adult stem cells and none with embryonic. If you want quick results, the money is with adult stem cell research. If you want pie in the sky, and another set of biotech companies vying for funds, maybe embryonic.
    Also remember that there are hundreds to thousands of different tissue types among humans. So if you use Miss Smith’s ova and Mr. Jones’ genetic material, make embryonic stem cells and grow a kidney to give me, I’m going to reject it unless you give me the same immunosuppressives that they give current transplant patients. Not a big miracle. You couldn’t grow enough cell lines to keep all of us in organs. Perhaps they’ll just clone the cells of the politicians in power? Or the wealthy? Or, of course, for research purposes only, the scientists?
    Scientists have been working on embryonic stem cells in animals for decades. They keep getting malignant tumors. Why would we let scientists jump to humans when they can’t even get mouse or sheep to grow properly?
    As an MD and a PhD scientist, I am not interested in a lot of control over what I do. But this embryonic stem cell stuff is crazy. A few loud scientists are trying to steamroller the rest of us into letting them do whatever they please, no matter what. And they want our tax dollars to support it because the smart money people realize that adult stem cells are where it’s at.
    Finally, yes, I do have a problem with creating human life for the sole benefit of another human. I believe that’s called slavery or, cannibalism? At my hospital we spend time, effort, and money to save babies born at 26 weeks of gestation who could be aborted freely. Seems morally incoherent to me. Last time I looked, life came BEFORE liberty, property, or the pursuit of happiness for excellent reasons.
    Jim S. MD PhD

  • http://alangrey.blogspot.com/2005/05/life-stem-cell-research-primer.html Grey Thoughts

    Stem Cell Research

    Note that there are many future uses and some current uses that have been overlooked in this total of 58, such as curing blindness, and customized skin grafts, and even breast implants. Life Site news has a great section for investigating the success s…

  • http://pererro.blogspot.com David Scott

    “Um, you people are crazy. there is no God. Never was.
    Get over your infancy and join the human race.
    Oh you beleive in the God of Abraham? The baby killing pro-rape guy? Here’s some advice, next time you need a myth, don’t use one that a proven murderer.”
    Come be an atheist! Then, you can angrily post your theological positions in places on the web where people disagree! And you can comb anti-Bible websites for anti-Bible quotes! And you can angrily take stuff out of context!
    What’s so great about being an evangelical atheist, anyway? Seems like being an evangelical Christian, but angrier, and without the warm fuzzies.

  • http://pererro.blogspot.com David Scott

    Oh yeah, and apparently people who disagree with Rob aren’t real humans. Nice.

  • Septeus7

    Quote: Don’t see why chimeric cloning is a problem for genomic evolution. By your position we are a process of genomic evolution and hence our actions are the results of the latest developments in genomic evolution. In the future it may be that humans might not exist as they do now, or at all, but it doesn’t really matter. Evolution will likely arrive at the best solution in the end.
    I’m don’t agree that our actions of introducting animal genes into our genome at random is anything at all like genomic evolution through natural selection. The different is rates of acclaimation toward an environment. In the past such adaption was relatively slow but with introduction of chimeric cloning substitution cost could be a disaster.
    People should think twice about replacing genomes created by thousand of years of natural selection with the latest and greatest in
    biotechology. Humanity created a world of human disease when did the same with your food about 10,000 years ago. Now we are doing the it to ourselves instead of what we eat. There will be a cost because there is always a cost.

  • http://www.wiresfromthebunker.com Peter Glover

    Joe, In view of your comment concerning Glenn Reynold’s comments on Bush’s Christian take on cloning (wo which I have today linked) I thought you might be interested in a similar analogy I have made about Christopher Hitchens on my post today.
    Like Glenn, Hitchens writes much that is useful. But, when it comes to faith, they appear tothink they do not possess any – they do. It is about time we took them on on this sort of thing.
    I wrote a whole essay ‘So what is your worldview? Because you do have one’ in The Politics of Faith.
    It is a key issue…
    God bless
    Peter G
    wwww.wiresfromthebunker.com

  • brandon

    septeus7:
    “People should think twice about replacing genomes created by thousand of years of natural selection with the latest and greatest in
    biotechology.”
    What is unnatural about replacing said genomes? Everything we do is natural, isn’t it?

  • brandon

    Septeus7:
    “I’m don’t agree that our actions of introducting animal genes into our genome at random is anything at all like genomic evolution through natural selection. The different is rates of acclaimation toward an environment. In the past such adaption was relatively slow but with introduction of chimeric cloning substitution cost could be a disaster.”
    It could be a disaster, I agree. Introduction does indeed come at a faster pace. But we must also agree that the ability to clone is a product of evolution, just as bat fangs, fish scales, and the ability to change color are products of evolution. As such, there is no concern for humanity’s well-being from the perspective of the efficacy of evolution. What happens after chimeric cloning is introduced are the results of one of the latest achievments of evolution, and natural selection may or may not weed that feature out of life.
    It could be

  • Larry Lord

    I said that the statement that there is “absolutely no evidence of [embryonic stem cell research] producing results” is false.
    Here comes Alan with his rejoinder: “please outline the number of cures that embryonic stem cell research has achieved for humans.”
    Huh? I need to show that embryonic stem cell research has led to disease cures to rebut Joe’s false and misleading statement?
    Sorry, no.
    Got to http://www.pubmed.org and type in “embryonic stem cell”. Educate yourself.
    And explain why so many researchers are interested in doing embryonic stem cell research. And explain why Bush lets it continue with the established lines if there “absolutely no evidence” that the research will lead to valued results.
    Go ahead.
    This is called “assembling facts honestly” to support your case.

  • http://sddc.blogspot.com corrie

    Larry, I did as you suggested, and got 18,576 hits. Perusal of several pages of results yielded no papers on actual human therapies derived from ESCs. When I narrowed the search term to “embryonic stem cell therap*” I got just seven results. Not a single one referred to human therapies.
    Lots of talk about “possibilities” and “potentials”, but nothing-nada-zero-zip about *actual* therapies.
    Funny, isn’t it, that the excuse given for destroying embyros to harvest stem cells is that they are just “potential” humans?

  • Larry Lord

    Corrie
    “Funny, isn’t it, that the excuse given for destroying embyros to harvest stem cells is that they are just “potential” humans?”
    Funny, isn’t, how some Christians will engage in all manner of dissembling to please themselves and their preachers?
    The “excuse” given for using embryonic stem cells is that the cells have properties that are not shared by non-embryonic stem cells, and those properties may be desirable for future therapeutic purposes.
    That is the true “excuse”, Corrie.
    Potential humans are the fetuses that were blown out of the wombs of innocent Iraqi woman by US bombs, all part of a “necessary war” based on lies which were peddled by George “I Won’t Destroy Life to Create Life” Bush, a well-known liar and his lying cohort, Condi “The Memo Was Historical” Rice, among others.
    “18,576 hits. Perusal of several pages of results yielded no papers on actual human therapies derived from ESCs.”
    Duh … gee, corrie, now why might that be the case?
    If some preacher claimed that the Bible is against hydrogen power, we’d be hearing rubes like corrie reciting arguments like “I only found two descriptions of hydrogen-powered airplanes.”
    Really lame and also — need I say it again? — a clear evasion of the issue which is that scientists are interested in doing research because it is indisputable that embryonic stem cells have different properties from non-embryonic stem cells which may make them better subjects for particular avenues of research.
    “When I narrowed the search term to “embryonic stem cell therap*” I got just seven results.”
    You’re just clueless, corrie. I typed in the following keywords: embryonic stem cell therapy. I received 2127 hits. The first paper was a recent review by Dr. Keller at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine which begins with the following paragraph:
    “The discovery of mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells >20 years ago represented a major advance in biology and experimental medicine, as it enabled the routine manipulation of the mouse genome. Along with the capacity to induce genetic modifications, ES cells provided the basis for establishing an in vitro model of early mammalian development and represented a putative new source of differentiated cell types for cell replacement therapy. While ES cells have been used extensively for creating mouse mutants for more than a decade, their application as a model for developmental biology has been limited and their use in cell replacement therapy remains a goal for many in the field. Recent advances in our understanding of ES cell differentiation, detailed in this review, have provided new insights essential for establishing ES cell-based developmental models and for the generation of clinically relevant populations for cell therapy.”
    So corrie: consider yourself one baby step on the road to honesty and self-education. I’m going to make a respectable Christian out of you yet. The goal is to free your minds from the claws of despicable and disgusting lying charlatans like Jim Dobson and his various script-reciting puppets (who evidently have you by the gonads).
    It’ll be a painful process for you, I’m sure, since you’ll have to swallow that huge greasy slab of misplaced pride that envelops many so-called “evangelical” Christians. In short, you’ll have to admit that you were wrong for believing the lies of disreputable loudmouthed preachers.
    Think you can handle that? Do you think Jesus approves of lying and dissembling?

  • Larry Lord

    The real question fundamentalists should be asking themselves is when therapies based on embryonic stem cells become available, will the fundies refuse to treat their children with those therapies?
    Take Jim Dobson for example, an evangelical Christian with a gigantic mouth, one of the biggest and loudest mouths around.
    Let’s say Bigmout Jim’s kid has a disease and the best possible treatment by far involves the use of embryonic stem cells.
    You think Jim Dobson will let his kid die?
    If you think so, you’re a fool. Jim Dobson’s kid will get the treatment. But Jim Dobson won’t tell you about it.

  • Larry Lord

    Joe
    “While legitimate differences in opinion certainly exists, they should be based on an awareness of the science and ethics that underscore the issue rather than the false promises of “miracle cures” or silly notions that it will lead to “entire organs…grown in laboratories.”
    It is truly hilarious to discover an evangelical Christian disparaging scientists for “false promises” of “miracle cures”.
    Scientists do in fact develop and discover treatments and cures for diseases and tragic acccidents every damn day.
    As for Christian preachers? You can see them on cable TV every day “laying hands” on rubes in giant fake scripted scenes that cause rational people to vomit but inspire retarded, elderly and just plain moronic people to reach for their credit cards.
    Growing organs isn’t silly. But perhaps someone who is medically and scientifically clueless might make such a strange statement after forgetting about the most frequently damaged organ — the largest organ of the human body, in fact …

  • Larry Lord

    Gee, what do you know, I was correct again.
    “House members pass a bill to expand funding for embryonic stem cell research.”
    CNN just now.
    Time tramples bogus religious claims, no matter how loudly they are shouted. Many educated African-Americans can explain this fact of life to y’all in detail.
    Stop reciting the scripts of hypocritical loudmouthed preachers. You’ll be a lot happier and maybe your opinions will be taken seriously by most Americans, who are not religious extremists.

  • JCHFleetguy

    Larry,
    I told you a week ago about that bill – and its bipartisan support from republicans and democrats. Why exactly did you fail to mention the near universal support just now? (or did all of the Republicans just stop being Dobson Toadies for this bill alone?)

  • Larry Lord

    FleetGuy
    “Why exactly did you fail to mention the near universal support just now?”
    Near universal? As of today, there weren’t enough votes to override a Bush veto.
    I failed to mention many interesting aspects of this debate. That’s indisputable. There is only so much time between the lunch hour and afternoon coffee (accompanied today by a stick of pepperoni — a strange compulsion! perhaps I’m pregnant).
    In the meantime, I’m going to dig up a summary of how to use the PubMed search engine correctly.

  • http://alangrey.blogspot.com Alan Grey

    Larry
    “I said that the statement that there is “absolutely no evidence of [embryonic stem cell research] producing results” is false.
    Here comes Alan with his rejoinder: “please outline the number of cures that embryonic stem cell research has achieved for humans.”
    Huh? I need to show that embryonic stem cell research has led to disease cures to rebut Joe’s false and misleading statement?
    Sorry, no.
    Got to http://www.pubmed.org and type in “embryonic stem cell”. Educate yourself.”
    You really have trouble finding a clue don’t you Larry. Joe has provided a large amount of examples of the benefits gained to humanity by Adult Stem Cell Research and has said there are none from ESCR.
    All you have provided is hot air and bluster in a childish denial which contains no facts.
    All you have to do is provide 1 example and you show Joe to be wrong, but instead you just keep repeating that he is and we should go research it. Get over yourself Larry. You are the one saying Joe is wrong. You prove it. And until you do provide that evidence, why do you show a little more intelligent and refrain from making unsupported claims.

  • Larry Lord

    “You really have trouble finding a clue don’t you Larry. Joe has provided a large amount of examples of the benefits gained to humanity by Adult Stem Cell Research and has said there are none from ESCR.”
    No one disputes that benefits have resulted from the free, unrestricted, unfettered research performed by scientists using adult stem cells.
    The question is why, given that information, anyone would claim — as Joe did — that there is “absolutely no evidence” that equally positive results would follow similar research conducted using embryonic cell lines.
    As for other strange statement, Alan, I have already proven Joe wrong. Joe is welcome to read for himself any of the 1000s of articles on http://www.pubmed.gov that discuss the embryonic stem cell research, provided that he is capable of figuring out how to use the search engine correctly.
    Joe is also welcome to directly call on the telephone a scientist doing stem cell research and ask them whether it is a fact that there is “absolutely no evidence” that less restrictions on embryonic stem cell research would not be useful to American men, women and children (and unborn children).
    We do live in a free country, in spite of bigmouthed wanna-be theocrats who wish that wasn’t the case. You can believe whatever you want about human embryos. You can call them human beings if you like. You can even give them names — Johnny the Embryo, Mary the Embryo, Rush the Embryo. You can pray and cry and have a funeral for every one of those embryos that is irrevocably damaged simply by the passage of time sitting in liquid nitrogen in some clinic. Boo hoo. Sniff.
    While you’re doing that, I’ll be considering those teenagers who were sent off to Irag to die and kill other women and children, based on a big lie that many many evangelical Christians chose to believe.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Larry,
    No one disputes that benefits have resulted from the free, unrestricted, unfettered research performed by scientists using adult stem cells.
    What

  • Franklin Mason

    I find that I’m confused when it’s said that the embryo is human. It seems to me that though it is perhaps human in the sense that it is a stage in the process that will lead to the creation of a human being, it is not itself, at least in the early stages, a human being. My argument traces the later stages of the process of reproduction.
    1. Consider that egg and sperm that will, let us say, unite at some time in the future. Each is human in the sense that it is a human cell and not, say, a bovine cell; moreover each is alive. But neither one alone nor the two if considered together is a human being.
    2. Consider now the fertilized egg. Although it is human (again in the sense that it is a human cell and not, say, a bovine cell) and alive, it is not a human being. For assume the contrary. Assume, that is, that a human being first comes to exist at the time of fertilization. That human being must still exist after the zygote first divides. That human will thus become two cells. But the zygote began as one cell. Thus one cell became two cells. But this is impossible. One thing cannot become two things. So, then, the fertilized egg is not a human being.
    3. The zygote begins to divide immediately after fertilization. But the zygote is not itself the human being that will later come to be. When then does the human being come to be? The answer that seems most plausible to me is this: when a unity among the cells is achieved sufficient to make them subservient to the ends of that human being they will come to compose. (The most basic of these ends are such things as nutrition, respiration etc.) This is what distinguishs a mere collection of cells from the cells that together compose some organism. Now, an embryo of just a few dozen or a few hundred cells seems not to fit this criterion. It is rather a mere collection w/o the proper sort of unity to compose a human being.
    I know that others take different views about the issue of when a human being comes to exist. Some hold that it’s at birth. Plainly absurd. Some hold that it’s at viability. Again plainly absurd. Some attempt to muddy the waters when they introduce the notion of a human person. I’m not certain how ‘person’ is used in this context, but that point to the side it seems to me that the real issue is when the human being comes to exist. That is the morally relevant threshhold.
    The upshot of my view is this: although, as is often said, an embryo is alive and human, these facts, at least in the early stages of embryonic development, have little or no moral weight. For the early embryo is not a human being and thus is in the moral category of, sperm and egg, i.e. the moral category is a prehuman stage of reproduction.
    I apologize if I seem naive. I’ve only begun to think about these issues.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Franklin,

    3. The zygote begins to divide immediately after fertilization. But the zygote is not itself the human being that will later come to be. When then does the human being come to be? The answer that seems most plausible to me is this: when a unity among the cells is achieved sufficient to make them subservient to the ends of that human being they will come to compose. (The most basic of these ends are such things as nutrition, respiration etc.) This is what distinguishs a mere collection of cells from the cells that together compose some organism. Now, an embryo of just a few dozen or a few hundred cells seems not to fit this criterion. It is rather a mere collection w/o the proper sort of unity to compose a human being.

    That

  • Franklin Mason

    Joe,
    Thanks for the reply, but I’m as confused as before.
    The developmental process that begins when the zygote is formed is, it seems to me, quite plainly teleological, and its sole telos is the creation of a human being. Thus its telos is not identical to that of a human being, for we do much more than create new life.
    I’m unsure whether to say that cell division is one of our ends. Perhaps it’s better to say that, given the short life of most kinds of cells within the human body and the human manner of maturation (we don’t simply grow more experienced/knowledgeable but quite literally grow in size), cell division is necessary to achieve the ends characterically pursued by human beings. But I’m unsure of the relevance of this to my suggested criterion.
    People who are unable to perform these functions die, and so in a way lose their status as humans. (Those on respirators still do most of the work of respiration. They are simply unable to fill their lungs with air on their own.)
    I am unsure why my criterion seems arbitrary. But here is an argument to make it seem less so. Imagine that, by a technology that is surely possible though not now in existence, the cells in my body are quickly removed one by one, each placed in its own test tube and provided with those energy resources etc. necessary to continue to function. Would I still exist? It seems to me that I would surely not. I am more than some number of cells. I am my cells functionally related to one another in the way characteristic of the human physiology; I am my cells working jointly so as to make me capable of those activities essential to human life. The cells in an early embryo do not have this functional relation.
    Oh, and it seems unfair when you say that I try to exclude members of the human race so that I might justify our use/misuse of them, for I deny that young embryos are members of the human race. You assume that they are, but I demur. It seems to me no more morally objectionable to experiment upon them than it does to experiment upon a sperm cell; and it seems to me just as much a mistake to say of them that they are members of the human race as it is to say of a sperm cell that it is a member of the human race.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Franklin,

    The developmental process that begins when the zygote is formed is, it seems to me, quite plainly teleological, and its sole telos is the creation of a human being. Thus its telos is not identical to that of a human being, for we do much more than create new life.

    Biologically speaking, by the time a human enters the zygote stage a

  • Larry Lord

    Joe
    “The reason, Larry, is obvious: there is absolutely no evidence that equally positive results would follow.”
    You can repeat this bizarre statement as long as you want but that won’t make it true. It’s like someone standing in a field of bi-wing two-prop planes saying “there is absolutely no evidence that a bi-wing single prop plane will ever get off the ground.”
    The evidence that embryonic stem cells will lead to useful treatments is undeniable. You can read. Go to http://www.pubmed.org, do the search that I did, and let your fingers do the walking.
    “There are 18576 results to be found so it should be easy to find one that has shown that ESC research has led to some form of cure or therapy.”
    Since when does a biomedical research project need to provide the cure or therapy before funding occurs? That is ridiculous.
    Excellent scientists will leave this country to do the work at universities in other countries if they can’t get funding to do it here. Some have already left.
    “Should we consider it a

  • Franklin Mason

    Joe,
    You say: “But a zygote is certainly a human life.”
    I deny this (if I understand you). Indeed I argued in my first post that it cannot be. It is human in the sense that it’s a human and not, say, a bovine zygote, but it is not a human being. The force of much of what I’ve said is this rather sketchy definition of ‘a human being’: a human being is a set of cells functionally organized in the way characteristic of human physiology. A zygote by itself cannot possibly fit this definition.
    I don’t mean this as a definition of ‘human person’. I’m not ever sure how to use this term (and this after a philosophy PhD and 7 yrs as a philosophy teacher). I mean it as a definition of individuals of a certain biological category, viz. Homo sapiens.
    You say:
    “I think you are stepping all over your own argument. If you are, as you say, your

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Franklin,

    I deny this (if I understand you). Indeed I argued in my first post that it cannot be. It is human in the sense that it’s a human and not, say, a bovine zygote, but it is not a human being. The force of much of what I’ve said is this rather sketchy definition of ‘a human being’: a human being is a set of cells functionally organized in the way characteristic of human physiology. A zygote by itself cannot possibly fit this definition.

    It appears that part of the difficulty is that we are using similar terms in different ways. Let me see if I understand your position and you can correct me where I err:
    A zygote is human in the sense that it is a physical entity that is not a member of another species.
    A zygote is a living entity in the sense that it is not dead matter.
    A zygote is a being in a sense that it has the ontological status of being a human.
    Although a zygote is both human and living it is not a

  • Larry Lord

    “A zygote is a being in a sense that it has the ontological status of being a human.”
    And there’s the circularity.
    A human zygote is a human zygote.
    A dog zygote is a dog zygote.
    A dog zygote is not a dog being.
    A human zygote is not a human being.
    Certain political groups please themselves by referring to zygotes and embryos as “beings.” But they are not “beings” any more than a “full grown” bacteria is a “being.”
    Little human beings? In your dreams, friends. Long ago people without microscopes imagined and drew little human beings living inside of sperms and eggs. If such pictures were to appear in a biology textbook today, lying charlatans at the Disclaimery Institute would point to the pictures of “evidence” that biologists are liars.
    And out of the other sides of their mouths, these same people make bizarre claims that embryos are “beings.”
    Doesn’t work. You appear foolish and desperate trying to make it work. Soon your preachers will send word down the chain of command and confirm what I am telling you. Why? Because their grasp on political power is tenuous and they don’t want another Schiavo incident to demonstrate how extremist their “beliefs” really are.

  • Larry Lord

    Joe
    “You can

  • Franklin Mason

    Joe,
    I do suspect that part of our difficulty is termilogical. (I realized this as I lay in bed last night and thought through this all again.) I hope this will help.
    We append the adjective ‘human’ to many terms that do not refer to this or that particular human being. One simple example: human hair. When we say of a strand of hair that it is human, we do not mean that it is identical to one or another human being. Rather we mean that it comes from a human being. So some things can be correctly called ‘human’ although they are not human beings. My view is that the zygote is another example of this. It is human, but is not a human being. By ‘human’ in this context, we mean something like ‘formed form human egg and sperm’ or perhaps ‘able to give rise to a human being’. But we (or at least I) do not mean by ‘human’ in ‘human zygote’ what I mean by ‘human’ in ‘Joe is human’.
    Consider these two arguments:
    This hair is human.
    Hair is a cylindrical filament characteristically growing from the skin of a mammal.
    Thus some human beings are cylindrical filaments characteristically growing from the epidermis of mammals.
    This zygote is human.
    A zygote is a single cell.
    Thus some human beings are single cells.
    I say that both arguments fail, and fail for much the same reason. Each equivocates upon what is meant by ‘human’.
    To sum: the zygote is no doubt human, but, say I, it is not a human being.
    Hope this helps.

  • Larry Lord

    Here’s a link to some photos of innocent human beings who were killed by weapons manufactured, aimed and deployed by US citizens whom we employ to do so.
    Take a look at this and see how long you are able to continue patting yourself on the back for cheering our invasion of Iraq — based on lies, remember, that many of you here recited and defended. These are just a tiny tiny fraction of the inevitable consequences of that war — again, I’m told by some here that the deaths of these human beings is “worth it.”
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/5/25/193144/999
    Note: this experience isn’t like looking at pictures of human embryos. Anyone can tell these human beings are dead without a second glance — an interesting distinction, isn’t it?

  • JCHFleetguy

    Joe,
    You had an excellant post on Marquis’s Why Abortion is Immoral. In it he points out that the biology arguments about abortion are too broad and lead to the kind of infinite regress you are getting here – Is it alright to kill zits? and other such strawmen.
    Now keep in mind that Marquis also explicitly did not place his argument on the embryo having a human future like ours. He said all the personhood arguments were too narrow. He said his argument would cover killing intelligent, non-human aliens – or if we were to discover that non-human earth mammals had “a set of experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments (EAPE)” that they would experience as lost if they knew they were going to die, it would be morally wrong to kill them. Hence, both biology (when life begins) and personhood (when are you truly human) are gone from this argument.
    The argument against abortion is that it ends a future-like-ours. Therefore, abortion is prima facie morally wrong (as opposed to absolutely immoral – other factors may enter in to make it not immoral i.e. life of the mother). Now Marquis dealt with eggs and sperm before fertilization (no future like ours); and zygotes after implantation (yes a future like ours) – but intentionally went by the hard topic of aborting an embryo between fertilization and implantation – a really small hole I would say but one this thread drives down the middle of.
    I will give a shot at handling Marquis’s “gap” between fertilization and implantation: An embryo in a test tube or petrie dish has no future-like-ours because of position. It cannot grow to have a future like ours in its location. It requires surgical action to have that future. An embryo fertilized inside a human being has that future because it is in position to have that future.
    All the strawman about fertilized eggs not implanting are just that – people who have been born die of natural causes all the time, and that gives us no right to take their life because we know it will end anyway. And people who die from killing, war, execution, etc do not even fall into this conversation unless you are making the argument that killing some gives us the right to kill more. Or that if we kill some, we should we not care if more are killed.
    I will again give Joe’s original caveat: READ THE WHOLE ESSAY. It handles a lot of the stuff that we still saw come up in the last thread.

  • http://blog.revmike.us Rev. Mike

    Joe, I’ve tried to send you a couple of notes regarding this and the other threads you and I have been discussing, but they keep bouncing back with a “Mailbox full” reply. Please drop me a line. Thanks!