Preparing for the Biotech Century

Chuck Colson: The fact that we are created in God's image and that God became one of us in Jesus gives sanctity and dignity to human life. Yet that dignity is being stripped away from us. Stay tuned to BreakPoint as bioethicist Nigel Cameron discusses life in the biotech century.   Nigel Cameron: We've been looking at bioethics issues new and old. We've seen how abortion has helped pave the way for euthanasia, and also for experiments on embryos, for cloning, and the whole Pandora's Box of the "Brave New World." Those of us who march for life will find the road steeper and more complex as the biotech agenda unfolds ahead of us. But we have a case to make. We believe in the inherent dignity of every human life. And we need to argue it at every opportunity, in season and out of season.   Last year, I was asked to testify before Congress on the great pressing questions of biotechnology -- human cloning and experiments on stem cells taken from human embryos. You may have watched those hearings on C-SPAN. You have five minutes to speak and make your case -- it's a bit like BreakPoint!   At the stem cell hearing, convened by Senator Specter, I sat on a panel with three men all of whom favored destroying embryos for these experiments. Arthur Caplan and Glen McGee are ethics professors who work closely with biotech companies, sitting on their advisory committees. And Mike West is chief of Advanced Cell Technologies, the cloning company from Massachusetts. I got to go first, which was nice. Senator Specter, always gracious, said he was pleased I was there since he wanted a balanced hearing and seemed not to understand the quizzical look on my face as I looked across the ring at the three guys in the other corner!       But at least I got to make my case. Human dignity, I said, is indivisible. You cannot single out one human being for respect and deny that respect to another. It's a simple argument, an old argument, and an argument that's difficult to answer. And so I was astonished when Arthur Caplan, sitting beside me, acknowledged its force by claiming that the early human embryo is not a member of our species at all! I asked Senator Specter to have Caplan repeat that amazing statement, which he did. And, of course, it reminded me (though I was too polite to say it at the time) that there were Nazis who said the same thing about the Jews.   We face a huge problem. And people are asking, "What can I do?" Well, there is much we can do and each of us needs to get informed. We don't have to become biotech experts -- just read the coverage in the press, and you will learn a lot. Scientists, pastors, and politicians need to focus their expertise and become leaders in the field of public opinion.   And that's why we've put together the Council for Biotech Policy as an affiliate of BreakPoint, to give you and policy makers information and to encourage you to be active in addressing these vital issues. It's also why we're holding a special conference on bioethics here in Washington, D.C., on February 22. Find out more about these from the BreakPoint website, or call us before you forget.   Chuck Colson: Thank you, Nigel. The twenty-first century has rightly been called the biotech century. Like it or not, the issues confront us all. Christians need to step forward and make our voices heard. For nothing less than human life and dignity are at stake.         For more information:   Nigel M. de S. Cameron, The New Medicine (Crossway, 1992).   Learn more about the Council for Biotechnology Policy.


Chuck Colson


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