Science and Morality

Remember the Six Million Dollar Man television program? Lee Majors played a former astronaut with bionic implants. Among other things, he could run faster and see farther than any other human being (until the advent of the bionic woman!).

FrankensteinOr maybe you’re familiar with the classic movie, Frankenstein.  Upon learning his experiment is a success, Dr. Frankenstein exclaims, “It’s alive! It’s alive!” However, you may not be familiar with the following line, cut by censors when the film re-released in 1934: “Now I know what it feels like to be God!”

What was once science fiction, fantasy, or even horror less than 100 years ago is now being implemented in laboratories and hospitals around the world. Yes, science has developed wonderful advancements in our medical care. Many illnesses which shortened life have been eradicated. Surgical procedures stem the progression of diseases once thought to be terminal. Organ transplants have provided hope for millions who once had no hope.

Still, while science gives us the ability to do some things, morality tells us whether we should do them. For example:

  • Scientists in Oregon have created embryos using the genes of one man and two women. The stated goal is to prevent babies from inheriting certain incurable diseases.

But could this DNA alteration be the first step to “designer babies,” where parents choose their child’s sex, height, or eye color?

  • Embryonic stem cell experimentation is being conducted to see how embryonic cells might cure diseases. But in order to collect these cells, the embryo – a baby – must be destroyed. Embryonic stem cells have yet to provide successful treatments.

But adult stem cells, which can be obtained from bone marrow, blood, and other sources, has already been used to provide treatment for people suffering from more than 70 different conditions. Even better, no one has to die in order to harvest these cells – unlike embryonic stem cells.

  • The emotional debate over abortion has divided our country as both sides argue over when life actually begins. Bible verses such as Psalm 139:13, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” are ignored by our society or dismissed as the rantings of fanatics.

But what about babies outside the womb? According to a Planned Parenthood representative during a hearing in Florida, the fate of babies born through botched abortions should be left up to “the woman, her family and the physician.” When a lawmaker noted the baby would then become a patient, just as the mother, the representative responded, “That’s a very good question.  I really don’t know how to answer that.”

How could anyone say the status of a baby born alive is the equivalent of an unanswerable question?  For those who would protest that killing babies born alive would never happen, the ongoing trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell proves otherwise. His charges include the murder of seven infants who had the temerity to be born alive.

Has it really come to the point that we should do something just because science says we can? Or because society says we can? Just because someone dressed in a white coat or with a string of letters after his/her name says something is right doesn’t make it right. Leaving such determinations up to individuals eliminates an objective, absolute standard of right and wrong. The result is a society much like what is described in the book of Judges where “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

Without a moral standard established outside of ourselves, our society will descend into moral chaos…and that’s just not right.

What do you think?