The use of Human Embryonic Stem Cells in Research is a lightening rod. It is catalyzing a great debate that transcends science and instead challenges us to take positions based on morality and ethics.
My considerations are humble. They do not extend to the potential of manipulating pluripotent cells to grow transplantable human tissues and organs in the lab. I am more interested in the ability for scientists to manipulate progenitors to grow pure cell populations in vitro for basic research. These cultures are useful for helping Scientists understand the molecular biology of diseases. This is but a baby step in the direction of actually discovering therapies for insidious human diseases. I would like to have these cultures available as research tools for my customers, but what are the ethical considerations even, say, if the cells were derived from government approved cell lines.
In my journey of understanding, I happened upon a website that articulates the roots of the debate and sheds light on the big questions that need to be answered by systematic theologians and public policy makers. These answers then could provide a moral and ethical framework for unleashing the promise of stem cells.
The Stem Cell Debate: Ethical Questions-About the author: Ted Peters is a professor of Systematic Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, California. He is author of GOD-The World’s Future (Fortress 2000) and Science, Theology, and Ethics (Ashgate 2003). He is editor-in-chief of Dialog, A Journal of Theology. He also serves as co-editor of Theology and Science published by the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley.