August 17, 2004

The Stem Cell Research DebateScience or Religion?

Note: A week after graduating Summit's CO 4th Session Worldview Conference, Stephanie Lincoln was able to put her training into action. A lead article appearing in her local paper referred to the fetal tissue research debate as one between "science and religion." The original article appeared in Nebraska's Lincoln Star, as of yet Stephanie's reply has not been published.

I am writing in response to the recent article, "Stem Cells May Offer Best Hope for Finding Cures", that implied that the stem cell research debate was a debate between science and religion. If the author is intending to imply that the pro-abortionist point of view is a position supported by scientific facts and that the pro-life points of view is supported merely by religious dogma, he is, quite simply, mistaken.

The debate over the fetus comes down to one central question, "Is the unborn a living human being?" If she is a human being, then she is a member of human society and therefore deserves to be protected from death just as the rest of us are protected.[1] If she is, however, just a mass of tissue, then there is no debate and abortion and stem cell research should be available for all.

First, it would be hard to argue that the fetus is not alive; after all, there would be no need to kill her if she wasn't living. But, in fact, she is alive and she is growing.

Second, if the fetus is not human, then she does not possess the right to be protected from harm. But how could the fetus be anything other than human? The scientific law of Biogenesis asserts that species reproduce after their own kind. Frogs beget frogs and humans beget humans; the fetus could not be anything other than human.

Lastly there are four basic objections presented to dispute the humanity of the unborn: size, level of development, environment, and dependency. None of these reasons are legitimate enough to stop a human heartbeat.

Size: The fetus is smaller than you or me, but Hillary Clinton is smaller than Shaquille O'Neal and she in not less human.

Level of Development: The fetus is less developed than a six-year old, but my six-year-old brother is less developed than me and I am not more human than he is.

Environment: The fetus is in the womb, but people live around the world in numerous environments yet an individual's location doesn't change their humanity.

Dependency: The fetus is dependent upon the mother for survival, yet there are many members of society relying on pacemakers, dialysis, artificial limbs, and other modern technology for function, but none of these individuals are less human for it.

Hillary, my brother, someone living across the world, or even someone depending on dialysis are all members of the human community and therefore deserve to be protected from death.

In addition, an unborn child at 3 weeks has a beating heart, by 6 weeks has brain waves, and by 8 weeks of development, has palm and finger prints, jumps inside the womb, can hear the beating of his or her mother's heart and has taste buds. These factual statements are not merely "beliefs" held by most Christians; it is our process of development - stages of human growth we have all gone through.

Today, it is a common argument to say that Christians hold views that are merely religious, while the views of their counterparts are classified as "scientific". This line of reasoning has infiltrated even our educational system. Ironically, allowing for the supposed separation of church and state, we have adopted Secular Humanist beliefs as our government and taxpayer supported religion. We've been taught that religion and religious beliefs (like those associated with pro-lifers) have no place in our schools. Yet isn't Secular Humanism a religion? In the 1961 Supreme Court case, Torcaso v. Watkins, Secular Humanism was recognized as a religion. Paul Kurtz, in the preface to the Humanist Manifesto I and II states that "Humanism is a philosophical, religious, and moral point of view."[2]

So it seems to me that rather than eliminating religion from our schools, we've merely eliminated the Judeo-Christian point of view. An atheistic, Secular Humanist religion remains as the only option for young minds to adopt as their own. That seems rather manipulative and deceptive, does it not? Are schools not the marketplace for ideas? Why not present both religions to students today and let them decide which to believe? After all, if science supposedly supports the secular humanist point of view, what do they have to lose? A well-developed opinion is always supported by a thorough knowledge of the fallacies of its opposition.

Thank you,
Stephanie Lincoln

  1. The following argument is an adapted and abridged version of Scott Klusendorff's argument for the humanity of the fetus.
  2. Kurtz, Paul, ed., Humanist Manifestos I and II (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1973), 3 (emphasis mine). A more detailed case is presented for this argument in Noebel, David A., J.F. Baldwin, and Kevin Bywater, Clergy in the Classroom: The Religion of Secular Humanism (Manitou Springs, CO: Summit Press, 2001), 1–16.

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