Stem cell research is unbiblical

Stem cell research - taboo and hope for a cure

With the upcoming decision of the German Bundestag in the spring of 2008 on a possible amendment to the Stem Cell Act of 2002, Protestant theologians again speak out with their arguments for or against stem cell research.

Its president leaves the church office of the EKD Hermann Barth claim that Christians could, with good reason, disagree in the discussion about postponing the deadline. When deciding to (further) approve research on embryonic stem cells, Barth warns Christians against acting against their conscience. He assumes that Christians who advocate or conduct this research themselves are presented with an insurmountable "contradiction to biblical-Christian standards". Even a postponement of the deadline would not make the compromise of 2002 “worthless”, “on the contrary: it gives it back the value it had in 2002 - namely to expect something from both sides, the advocates of the consistent protection of life and the advocates of freedom of research and to admit something. "

Using embryos that are bound to die anyway for research?
The Chairman of the Council of the EKD, Bishop Wolfgang Huber, emphasizes that the 2002 compromise contributed to "maintaining the strict standards of the German Embryo Protection Act". In principle, Huber rejects the abolition of the deadline, but not its postponement. The EKD Synod also approved a one-off postponement of the deadline in November 2007. In a regulation that is inadequate for further stem cell research and the argumentation that this research is fundamentally inadmissible, Huber sees the danger of promoting a “complete release” of the extraction of embryonic stem cells. The human dignity that an embryo has from the beginning speaks against this. An embryo must not be created and killed for research purposes, but it should be borne in mind that artificial insemination produces surplus embryos. The question must be asked whether stem cells can be obtained from these embryos, which will die at some point anyway, in order to research healing possibilities with them. (Quotes from a detailed article by the EKD press office dated February 8, 2008. There are also further links on the subject.)

A person is not just made up of their chromosomes
Ulrich Körtner, Professor at the Evangelical Theological Faculty of the University of Vienna and head of the Institute for Law and Ethics in Medicine there, criticizes the argumentation of Wolfgang Huber and the EKD Synod: Their “limited research-friendly attitude” justifies the EKD “with no single ethical or theological argument of weight, but simply pragmatic ”(epd documentation, 5). Körtner does not see the "secret" revealed how the "spirit and logic of the German stem cell research law" can be reconciled with a position that assumes that "every fertilized egg cell is already a human being" (ibid.). Those who accept the German Stem Cell Research Act should also stand by it, "so that de facto the destruction of embryos for research, if not to be approved, at least not to reject it." (Loc. Cit. 6) Körtner criticizes with regard to the ethical decision to evaluate the Stem cell research the derivation of a moral evaluation from biological facts. Embryos from fertilization onwards are equated with humans on the basis of biological facts. “In the image of God, personality and human dignity”, however, are “trans-empirical attributions”. This means that biological facts about the question of the beginning of life must also be used to determine a person, but they are not the only decisive “indicators”. Behind this argument is a view of the human being as a living being that is recognizable in “diverse relationships”: “A diploid set of chromosomes is hardly sufficient.” (Ibid.) Theologically, this argument is based on a “reluctance” of evangelical ethics “towards normativity of the purely natural ”.

The totipotency of a cell to explain its ability to grow into a complete individual as a “sufficient criterion for being human” is not necessarily based on general reason, “but corresponds, for example, to the religious conviction of the Roman Catholic Church and its teaching office, which by no means is shared by all other Christian churches and also not by Judaism ”(op. cit., 12). With regard to the totipotency of a cell and its evaluation in terms of human existence, Körtner points out that it is also questionable from a medical point of view whether every fertilized egg cell can be described as an embryo or an “embryonic person”. Not every fertilized egg will develop into a viable embryo. The word “embryo” is also used imprecisely. After the nuclear fusion of the egg and sperm cell, the morula is formed through a first division. Only after several days did this cluster of cells develop into a cell bubble, which is an early form of the embryo.
The “ontological status” of early embryos in vitro depends to a considerable extent on the researchers involved. This is shown by a thought experiment: a researcher takes a totipotent cell from a cluster of cells. Assume that there is now a second individual. What would happen to it if the researcher changed his mind and reinserted it into the original cluster of cells? Then where would the second individual be?

Körtner comes to the conclusion: “There are good reasons against the unrestricted release of the creation and research of embryos. There are also good reasons against reproductive cloning of humans. For stem cell research, this means that research on adult stem cells should be given priority. (...) However, an ethical position that categorically speaks against any research on human embryonic stem cells with reference to the totipotency argument is ill-founded ”(ibid., 13). (Quotes from: U. Körtner, The cardinal is wrong - the question of the status of the embryo alone does not determine the ethical admissibility of research on embryonic stem cells. Commentary on the current ecclesiastical controversy; the other, stem cell research. On the status of research in Austria, both texts in: epd documentation on stem cell research from February 12, 2008)

“Special status” for early embryos and freedom for research
Hartmut Kress, Professor at the Protestant Theological Faculty of the University of Bonn, Department of Social Ethics, emphasizes that from the perspective of Protestant ethics, different goods and values ​​must be balanced: the protection of life in early embryos, the freedom of research and health protection or the best possible health care also for future generations.

When asked whether the early embryo should be respected as human life, Kreß suggests granting it a "special status", "according to which it has a weaker claim to protection compared to the more developed embryo or the fetus" (epd documentation, 22). As a justification, Kreß cites on the one hand that the external circumstances, i.e. the implantation in the uterus, largely depends on whether an early embryo can develop into a human being, and on the other hand the new scientific insight that with the merging of eggs and sperm cell the genetic individuality and identity of a living being has not yet been finally determined.

Kreß himself comes to the conclusion: “If you take up the three components of ethical weighing - early embryonic life protection, freedom of research and the state's duty to protect human health - this leads to human embryonic stem cell research being permitted under public control and under transparent conditions , yes should be promoted. ”(epd documentation, 23; quote from: H. Kreß, The discussion on human embryonic stem cell research in Protestant ethics and conclusions for the reform of the stem cell law, in: epd documentation on stem cell research from February 12th 2008).

epd documentation on "stem cell research" from February 12, 2008

An introduction to stem cell research with current links to the debate about postponing the deadline on Wikipedia

epd documentation on “stem cell research” dated February 12, 2008: table of contents and possibility of ordering

EKD reporting on the current discussion about the postponement of the deadline

“Pluralism as a trademark” - a manifesto by Reiner Anselm, Johannes Fischer, Christofer Frey, Hartmut Kreß, Trutz Rendtorff, Dietrich Rössler, Christian Schwarke and Klaus Tanner, published on January 23, 2002 in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Hartmut Kreß: Human dignity before birth. Fundamental questions and current decision-making problems (pre-implantation diagnostics; use of stem cells). PDF

Hartmut Kreß: Reproductive medicine and embryonic stem cell research - new impulses in the ethical, medical and legal discussion, in: Hessisches Ärzteblatt 67/2006, H. 10, 730-733. PDF