Dolly the sheep was the first big breakthrough in stem cell research during the 1990s, but it remains a contentious subject today. From synthetic biology of gene cloning to gene editing and even embryonic research, the ethics mean weighing potential benefits against the costs. There is also a need to separate out individual from societal benefits.
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Unmistakably, the chance to potentially fix hereditary issues can be tempting. General morals and ethics allow public opinion to sway back and forth, questioning if stem cell researchand the associated improvements to quality of lifeare playing God with human lives. As such, most religions take issue with using stem cell therapy while individuals with medical ailments are for its use. This research seeks to outline a few pros and cons to set up informed decision making, but it does not seek to differentiate between ethics and morals, only to present their presence as an influencing variable.
This still-unusual form of medical research is probably best described as novel interventions in the process of reproduction (Allum et. al., 2017). Degeling et. al. (2014) use the wording the creation of chimeric organisms from human and neural stem cells and primate embryos. Regardless of the phrasing or the application, debates get heated quickly as to whether or not this version of research holds value or validity. Religion classifies it under boundaries of acceptable interference in creation which suggests humans pirating responsibilities rightfully belonging to an all-powerful God (Allum et. al., 2017). And yet even religion allows for certain exceptions, differentiating between using it to actually heal a condition and using it for the purpose of more in depth research in the hopes that it will eventually provide answers or a human application (Degeling et. al., 2014).
A further distinction identifies when the cells belong specifically to either party (the recipient or the supplier). Religious morals appear to take issue when it cannot be determined to whom the cells belong, or if they belong to both parties equally. At what point does the animal become eerily quasi-human? This seems to be the central issue, morally speaking, to not confuse authentic humans with an animal-human hybrid who has enhanced or ‘human-like’ cognitive or psychological characteristics (Degeling et. al., 2014). Religion tends to be against, but can take either or both sides, depending on the denomination’s school of thought, choosing if and when this type of research crosses a line. In the pursuit of preventing science from going too far into God’s role, religious organizations have influenced legislative policy to monitor the use and application.
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