Chimeras—a “Frightening Future”?

by Ken Ham on August 30, 2021
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Just because we can, does it mean we should? Well, how you answer such a question depends on your worldview and the foundation that worldview rests on. What do I mean? Well, consider the question of “chimeras.” In science today, chimeras refer to human-animal hybrids. Many scientists are doing such research today, artificially combining human and animal cells. But should they be?

Well, the US Senate seems to think they should be. According to a recent article, “the Senate failed to pass an amendment … [in May 2021 that] would have banned chimera research in the U.S . . . thus allowing the nation’s scientists to compete with Chinese innovation.”

Unethical Experiments?

One of the Senators responsible for introducing the failed legislation (Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana) gave his reasons why he thinks such research ought not to be done:

Human life is distinct and sacred, and research that creates an animal-human hybrid or transfers a human embryo into an animal womb or vice versa should be completely prohibited, and engaging in such unethical experiments should be a crime.

But another Senator (Sen. Patty Murray of Washington) argued that such a ban “undermines scientifically significant research that could actually help develop new treatments and ultimately lead to lifesaving organ transplants.”

In this view, we aren’t endowed with anything special that makes us unique and valuable: we’re just animals. We experiment with other animals, so why not humans?

Now in the prevailing evolutionary worldview, Sen. Braun’s argument makes no sense—human life isn’t distinct or sacred. Rather, it’s just the result of random chance processes over millions of years that gradually turned us from pond scum into people. In this view, we aren’t endowed with anything special that makes us unique and valuable: we’re just animals. We experiment with other animals, so why not humans? And from that perspective, when you die, you cease to exist. So why bother anyway, as there’s no ultimate meaning or purpose for life?

But it’s worth noting that Sen. Murray’s argument proposing we need to do this research to help people also fails in a consistent evolutionary worldview. If we’re the product of evolution, there’s no moral reason to help and heal others. Nature operates by “survival of the fittest” and natural selection, so if the weak and sick don’t make it, tough luck—that’s how evolution works.

Just Don’t Gestate “Such a Thing”

Now, should we do this research? One bioethicist argues that “science may be pushing the ethical envelope and trespassing ethical boundaries yet uncrossed.” But he adds, “[A]s long as the embryo chimera stays in a laboratory dish, there shouldn’t be concern . . . but ‘if you actually try to gestate such a thing, particularly if you can bring it successfully to term, then the issues get more significant.’”

In a biblical worldview, we reject this kind of thinking—the human life in a petri dish is still a life, even if it hasn’t been implanted in a womb. So the issues are significant, right from the petri dish onward. And, of course, there’s no reason to believe that such experiments would stay “in the petri dish”—without an absolute authority, morality is relative. Today’s lines are quickly crossed tomorrow as the scientific research marches on (all in the name of the “greater good,” of course).

The Ends Justify the Means . . . Right?

The secular worldview cannot consistently argue against chimeras, even though many in the scientific community are against it. Why? Because their standard is their opinion and is ultimately arbitrary. Sure, one scientist might think that, but another thinks something different, so who decides? Well, when there’s no ultimate authority, everyone does what’s right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).

So how then should we think about this research? After all, chimera research might lead to new scientific discoveries, treatments, therapies, and even organ transplants that could help many people. Well, this is where we bring in the biblical worldview.

We need to understand several foundational principles:

  • Humans aren’t just animals. We have a body like a mammal, but we are not of the animal kingdom (regardless of how scientists today classify us). We are our own separate kind—and more than that, we are utterly distinct because we alone are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). No animal was created in God’s image. It cannot be overstated how much worth and dignity that gives the human being (look to the cross to see how much value image-bearers hold in God’s eyes!).
  • Humans and animals are not the same kind. We’re not just biology. Humans, made in God’s image, are created with an eternal soul and, as stated above, are not related to the animals.
  • Murder is wrong. Many of the human cells used in chimera research come from embryos specifically created to be destroyed for the purpose of this research. That is murder, and that is wrong. Murder in a clean, clinical setting with “good intentions” to help others is still murder and abhorrent to God.
  • The ends don’t justify the means. These scientists may have good intentions to help others, but that doesn’t mean we should experiment with things that snuff out human dignity, kill the lives of children, and potentially create creatures that could, perhaps, develop some form of human consciousness.
  • We live in a fallen world. This world is broken and groaning from our sin. People suffer from illness and pain, and we should do everything we can, within the ethical boundaries and wisdom of Scripture, to alleviate suffering. But we must employ wisdom. Is developing human hearts in pigs for the purpose of transplanting organs the same as creating a human-monkey hybrid embryo? No, it’s not, and we must think hard and wisely about such questions.

A Frightening Future

Chimeras are a “frightening future” because the research that is currently ongoing kills human lives in the name of maybe saving others, degrades humans, and attempts to artificially blur the line between the kinds God created. As Christians, we must continue to be advocates for life and human dignity in a culture that increasingly views human lives as dispensable.

Get More Answers on Answers News

I discussed this today on Answers News with cohosts Bodie Hodge and Tim Chaffey. Answers News is our twice-weekly news program filmed here at the Creation Museum and broadcast on my Facebook page and the Answers in Genesis Facebook page. We also covered the following intriguing topics:

  • Aliens headed for hell?
  • The Great Unconformity solved?
  • Fast evolution?
  • And more!

Watch the entire episode of Answers News for August 30, 2021.

Be sure to join us each Monday and Wednesday at 2 p.m. (ET) on my Facebook page or the Answers in Genesis Facebook page for Answers News. You won’t want to miss this unique news program that gives science and culture news from a distinctly biblical and Christian perspective.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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