By James Wilson
Ian Malcolm – the Jeff Goldblum character in Jurassic Park – famously said something like, “You spent so much time asking whether you could that you forgot to ask whether you should,” as things began to fall apart in the visionary-idea-turned-monstrosity that introduced deadly dinosaurs into our world by patching the holes in their DNA with genetic material from frogs. The question of whether you should has obviously escaped the notice of scientists at California’s Salk Institute. They announce they have successfully joined human cells with pig cells in a sow’s womb. The perverted enormity of what they have done defies the limits of my vocabulary.
Dr. Jun Wu, lead researcher, gave an extensive interview to National Geographic in which tries to normalize what he terms “hybrid life” with the claim “what some call angels” are really just hybrid creatures in which birds are joined to humans. He calls the creature produced by his team Chimera – after the hybrid creature from Greek Mythology. Jun explains the chimera had a special calling to stand guard over humankind, just like angels. The only trouble is everything he says is just oats the bull has already processed.
I take the Bible for my authority on angels, but most – if not all – traditions include angels in their lore and nobody ever thought they were some kind of hybrid until Jun came up with it. The chimera of the myths is a fire breathing monster – a hybrid indeed – that leaves no human alive if it can help it. National Geographic was at one time a factually based journal; the journalist who interviewed Jun either does not know how or does not care to google angels and/or chimera. I don’t know whether Jun is that dishonest or just that ignorant, but what he has created is indeed a monstrosity and his comments are for those willing to drink the Kool Aid. A man that cavalier – or that careless – with well and generally known facts from other disciplines can scarcely be trusted to get it right within his own. In any case, Dr. Frankenstein is alive and well in California – on the campus of UC San Diego – and supported with taxpayer monies.
Okay, but why am I so energized about an experiment that injects one in one hundred thousand human stem cells – the ratio of human to pig – into an animal womb?
One thing is that the only conceivable source for the human cells – described as obtainable in non-invasive ways – is the bodies of unborn children. Planned Parenthood has already been busted for trafficking in human body parts; non-invasive removal of human cells can only occur if the human is dead. Equally well documented over the past two decades are cases – rare to date – of human parents literally conceiving and birthing children in order to harvest organs – such as a kidney – needed by already living siblings. Each further step down this ghoulish path that began with abortion-on-demand is justified by humanitarian need – transplant patients are waiting – on the one hand and the promise that safeguards are in place – Planned Parenthood is living proof of that falsehood. Reality is this: Once we permit human beings in whole or in part to be thought of as resources instead of persons of inherent worth there is no necessary stopping place. To paraphrase an old aphorism, if we don’t want to arrive in Minneapolis we should stay off the train that is going there.
Another thing is the false dichotomy set up around embryonic stem cell harvesting versus the medical research and use of adult stem cells. Professor Alan Mackay-Sim was recently honored as Australia’s Man of the Year for his groundbreaking research into adult human nasal stem cells. At least one quadriplegic man is now walking due to transplanting such cells; the professor’s role was to prove the therapy safe in clinical trials conducted a decade ago. Reality is more than one hundred successful therapies now exist from this kind of research using voluntarily given cells. These cells, by the way, display greater facility for becoming whatever cells are needed than the faux promises of their embryonic cousins. There has never been so much as a glimmer of actual fruit from the cells of aborted babies; billions have been spent with nothing to show except the shame of using human beings as objects for experimentation.
When the hybrid story broke in Australia medical professors compared it to the work of Mackay-Sim and – by so doing – revealed only their own colossal ignorance. Human beings at any stage of development are not crops to be harvested, and no real benefit will ever come of it.
Yet the biggest reason for alarm – or it ought to be – is the worldview that makes such experimentation conceivable. The culture of death in which we live did not begin with embryonic stem cells, Roe v Wade, or the slave trade. It is as old as a couple in a garden who blame each other for the consequences of playing God. It is explicitly expressed in Judges 17:6 to the effect that when Israel had no king everybody did as they pleased. A king represented a standard of accountability; in its absence there was no standard and anarchy reigned. The chronicler thought this important enough he repeated it in the last verse of his book.
Truth is once we dare designate one life – any life – as more valuable than another it does become every man for himself in pretty short order; the higher value is always claimed by the one who can. In our culture the rich keep getting richer and government keeps getting more arrogant – and lawless. And there is always one more crazy to shoot up a theatre, an elementary school, or a church for reasons seeming good to him. The answer is not more laws. The answer is to acknowledge the King we have – the One Who sacrificed Himself for each of us when He could have sacrificed us for Himself. The first step will be to ask if we should before we ask if we could.
We are a long ways down the road to Minneapolis when we can rejoice over mixing human DNA with that of pigs and rationalize it by saying that is what angels do. It is a long way back. The trip back – it is called repentance – needs to be a lifestyle for a critical mass of us before we can hope to approach home. The reward – for those of us who hang in there for the journey – is nothing less than the restoration of the real life that has always been the gift of God for those who love Him, their neighbors, and their selves – in that order.
James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, and Kingdom in Pursuit – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org