Unknown to most outside observers, from the earliest days of embryonic stem cell research through today's latest developments, Christian theologians have been actively involved with leading laboratory research scientists to determine the ethical implications of stem cell research. And contrary to popular expectation, these Christians have been courageously advocating in favor of research. Three of these dynamic theologians tell their story in Sacred Cells? Why Christians Should Support Stem Cell Research. Sacred Cells? takes readers through the twists and turns of stem cell development, providing a brief history of the science and an overview of the competing ethical frameworks people use in approaching the heated debate. Each new scientific advance, from the cloning of Dolly the sheep to the use of engineered cells in humans, had to be carefully considered before proceeding. Rejecting the widely held belief that the ethics of stem cell research turn on the moral status of the embryo, the authors carefully weigh a diversity of ethical problems. Ultimately, they embrace stem cell research and the prospect of increased health and well being it offers.
Sacred Cells? takes readers through the issues of stem-cell development with both a brief history of the science and an overview of the competing ethical frameworks in the debate.
Francisco J. Ayala
Sacred Cells? is a well crafted book about whether stem cell research is ethically, as well as socially and politically, acceptable by people of faith. The authors know the science and practices involved and report them in an engaging narrative. The authors bring clarity, precision, and depth to the subject, seeking to convince the reader by their multidimensional discussion, not by demeaning other beliefs or opinions. A wonderful book.
Sacred Cells? shows that it is not only possible but plausible to articulate a religious framework in which embryonic stem cell research is not just ethically tolerable but ethically right. In plain, readable prose, the authors take us through the history of the work that produced the prospect of embryonic stem cell research and show us why the arguments advanced against this research, on ethical grounds, fail. They also remind us that ethics, as often as not, is quite capable of keeping pace with the latest scientific breakthroughs.
Robert Roger Lebel
All of us who have labored to find the paths of wisdom informed by both faith and science can welcome this contribution to the discussion of stem cells. Sensitivity to a wide variety of theological and philosophical traditions is one of the strengths of this book.
Jan. 2009 CHOICE
This is a thoughtful, insightful work that may not change many minds but will give much pause for thought. Highly recommended.
December 2009 Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith
Their grasp of current scientific issues is impressive . . . If this book leads to discussion on such matters as: What is sacred? To whom does dignity apply? How important is good health? it will have served a very useful role in bioethical and theological debate.
Peters, Lebacqz, and Bennett take the best approach I have yet seen in interpreting the forces at work in white-hot debate surrounding stem cell research, and give a lucid analysis of the central issue—namely, the conflict of the new science and religious dogma. The unique background of the authors, their demonstrated intimate understanding of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic belief systems, and their clear style make Sacred Cells? an engaging and likely enduring work.
Ted Peters is professor of systematic theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union. He is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, co-editor of the journal Theology and Science, and has published widely on genetic research and its ethical implications.
Karen Lebacqz is professor emerita of theological ethics at Pacific School of Religion and the Graduate Theological Union. She has published widely on theories of justice, feminist ethics, professional ethics, and bioethics. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, she has served as consultant to the U.S. Congress on policies dealing with human subjects in experimentation.
Gaymon Bennett is director of ethics at the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. He has served as a minister in the Church of the Nazarene and has published on the relations of science, theology, anthropology, and ethics.
Chapter 1: The Ethical Pre-History of Stem Cells
Chapter 2: From Science to Ethics in a Flash
Chapter 3: Working within the Research Standards Framework
Chapter 4: Three Contending Frameworks for Stem Cell Ethics
Chapter 5: The Embryo Protection Framework
Chapter 6: The Human Protection Framework
Chapter 7: The Future Wholeness Framework
Chapter 8: Ethical Smoke and Mirrors in Washington
Chapter 9: The Hidden Theology Behind the International Debates
Chapter 10: The Vatican's Strong Stand
Chapter 11: The Vatican and Embryology
Chapter 12: The Vatican Argument in a Cracked Nutshell
Chapter 13: Leon Kass, Protector of Human Nature
Chapter 14: Jewish and Muslim Bioethics
Chapter 15: The Terror of the Chimera
Chapter 16: Justice and the Patenting Controversy
Chapter 17: The Spiritual Soul and Human Dignity
Chapter 18: The Ethics of the Ethicists
Chapter 19: Theologians Say "Yes" to Regenerative Medicine
About the Authors