Stem cells occur naturally in the body as a restorative tissue with an extraordinary ability to become (pluripotent) other cells such as muscle cells, red blood cells, and even brain cells (McQuilkin & Copan, 2014, p. 399).They are the scientific embodiment of evidence that supports intelligent design. We'll examine the stem cell research ethics concerns on morality regarding embryonic stem cell use and adult stem cell use and the debate centralized on personhood.
The formation of bioethics lays the foundation for progression in this field of research, based on the doctrine of the image of God and the “moral fruitfulness” (McQuilkin & Copan, 2014, p. 394). This fruitfulness is divinely inspired through divine nature theory. For example, stem cells obtained through adults has been found to be more successful in the curing of diseases (even lessening effects of devasting illness such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, and spinal cord injuries) at a higher percentage than the cells obtained through embryos (McQuilkin & Copan, 2014, p. 399). These cells have also been used for burn victims for skin grafts to aid in tissue repair with high success rates. The moral dilemma this line of research faces is enveloped within the source of the stem cells.
Stem cells can be obtained via unused embryos of fertility clinics (McQuilkin & Copan, 2014, p. 399) or through adult cells derived from a placenta, nasal cavity, bone marrow, or fat. Applicable bioethics are seen through the divine nature scope, as these ethics reason that posing unnecessary risk to a patient and causing mental and bodily harm is not only immoral, but haphazard and irresponsible.
Morality in this scenario is based on moral objectivism (God), thus determining objective morality (bioethics) for medical procedures. A logical downfall to Divine Command Theory, even in this case of medical usage, lies in the “Euthyphro Dilemma” (Jones, 2017, p. 100) where God’s moral nature is questioned regarding whether morality is moral because God wills it, or vice versa. “’God’s will is determined by what is moral’ does not explain how ‘what is moral’ got to be moral in the first place’” (Jones, 2017, p. 100). Bioethics needs an objective platform to be lastingly fruitful and safe for all patients.
Two ways mentioned above to collect stem cells would be through embryonic collection or through an adult host. One is fatal while the other spares life in favor of bioethics. The main crux of the argument of embryonic stem cell collection over adult stem cells is centralized on personhood and biographical nature.
Personhood has been debated as being self-aware, with a certain degree of brain activity, and personal identity. Being biographical is determined by versatility and durability. Since embryonic stem cells have been debated as both more versatile and durable compared to adult stem cells, embryonic stem cell research procedures are held in higher esteem. However, for the outcome to be most favorable for embryonic stem cell research, there must be ethical regard that favors a high success rate, in which case embryonic stem cell research falls short of.
Personhood is not rooted in just function alone, but also in nature. Humans come “with certain essential capabilities that make us human, even if we are not presently using them” (McQuilkin & Copan, 2014. p. 371). A comatose person would be arguably less biographical if these standards applied, but is not logical.Their nature, essence, and function (even though to a lesser degree) still makes them human. Embryos, likewise, still have a nature that bears the image of God.
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