Bioethics: Into the Storm Without an Anchor
On several fronts, scientists without a track record of ethical trustworthiness are pushing culture toward dangerous practices.
Here are just a few new technologies that are changing the bioethical landscape:
- Fetal cells were injected into a man’s brain to try to cure his Parkinson’s disease. “It takes cells from at least three fetuses to treat each half of the brain.” (New Scientist)
- Brain implant trials raise ethical concerns (Science Magazine). The Obama administration is pushing this technology.
- The Pentagon’s gamble on brain implants, bionic limbs and combat exoskeletons (Nature): “fraught with ethical concerns” … “no guarantee that the Pentagon will actually listen to ethicists’ concerns.”
- An Italian surgeon is calling in the US for funds to support a head transplant as soon as next year. (Medical Xpress)
- Noninvasive prenatal testing works (Medical Xpress) and is proving safe and effective, preferred by patients (Medical Xpress). The technology, however, can be used for sex selection and decisions to terminate a pregnancy if genetic disease is found. “Results from a national study of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) in women at high risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome will be presented at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics,” for instance.
- Embryonic stem cell research continues (e.g., Nature), even though scientists are well aware their use poses ethical questions, while induced pluripotent stem cells do not, and are becoming easier to produce (Science Daily).
- New Scientist ponders “an impossible, unethical experiment, but fascinating all the same” – putting children on an island and observing whether they develop morality. “Are we humans? or animals?” is part of the motivation for speculating about a real-world “Lord of the Flies” experiment.
- The rise of the “social algorithm” (e.g., Google tracking of population trends) could affect political speech and privacy. (Science Magazine)
- DNA profiling is leading to “a brave and uncertain new world” (PhysOrg)
- CRISPR/Cas9 is making genetic engineering of human embryos a real possibility (see our 6/05/15 entry).
Evolutionary scientists believe that ethics and morality are reproductive strategies produced by natural selection, with no fixed moral compass. Secular materialists consider morality to reflect brain anatomy—nothing more.
- “Do cheaters have an evolutionary advantage?” (Science Daily). The very question presupposes that evolutionary advantage is what matters in life, whether or not cheaters prosper in the fitness game.
- High levels of moral reasoning correspond with increased gray matter in [the] brain (Science Daily). But is that correlation or causation?
- Why good people do bad things (PhysOrg); it’s all explained with strategy that can be manipulated by pragmatics, not by morality.
- Kids’ altruism reflects socio-economic status (Science Daily). If altruism can be manipulated by nature and nurture, it is relativistic.
- Scientists observe altruism and selfishness in brain activity (Medical Xpress); assumes secular materialism.
- Live Science offers a naturalistic explanation for a trending game that summons demons.
Scientists are not always exemplary models of ethics.
- Retraction of scientific papers for fraud or bias is just the tip of the iceberg. (Ian Roberts in The Conversation)
- New study claims that $28 billion is spent each year on irreproducible biomedical research. (Science Magazine)
- Paleoanthropologist Ian Tattersal has written a new book documenting how scientists in his peer group have “misread our own story.” (Nature)
Simultaneously, polls show that millennials are becoming the least religious generation ever in America (PLoS One). Devoid of a secure moral compass, manipulated by amoral scientists, subjected to easy-to-use technologies that devalue human life, what does the future hold?
The voice from the pulpit is nearly silent now. Scientism has taken its place. America is picking up steam to race to become like Europe, where churches are being closed and converted to business uses or razed. The world is placing its hope in science, run by special interests, government regulators and moral relativists. Tools for death are being spread abroad. The “fetus” has no rights up to the moment of birth. Soon that will be true of the elderly and newborns. Since we didn’t learn from the 1930s, we are doomed to repeat the decisions that led to the slaughter of millions. Through all that time to the present, the one constant has been this: unquestioned allegiance to Darwinism and its foundation, secular materialism.
Pastors, if you want to understand the intellectual history of all this evil, you need to read Darwin Day in America by John West. To understand its source, read Genesis 3. To understand its trajectory, read Revelation. You were called for such a time as this. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.