Jesus can change your way of thinking

It is now 2010, and many of us have been thinking of ways to discipline our lives. We may not all say it that way, but that’s what we intend. Some call them resolutions (I do) and we hope to improve our lives in some way by doing things either a new way or doing the things we already do in a better way. We need to change our way of thinking.

John Knight, in a post at The Works of God, points to an article in the New York Times that talks about how our brain functions and how, for example, in people who are blind it reorganizes the impulses that usually function for sight to do other tasks. It’s an amazing thing and, for me and many others, points to how God has made our brains in his infinite wisdom. Knight says that this also makes the miracle Jesus performed for the blind man in John 9 even more spectacular because the man’s sight was restored instantly and he saw clearly. By science, this man’s brain would have not been able to adjust this quickly because his it would not have been functioning in this capacity for a long time.

As I read John’s post I thought about my hopes for this year and the goals (resolutions) I have made for myself. I am left feeling hopeful because I can see that God can work in ways that are not my natural inclination, my current way of thinking (although my faith in God is present) to do the thing desired. So, I will press on in hope that God will do the daily miracle in my life. And I hope you, dear reader, press on in God as well that he will change our way of thinking.

Useful resources on bioethics from STR: Abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research

Stand To Reason is a great organization that puts out great material to help Christians think more clearly about their faith and give a gracious, even-handed defense of it. This page has some great resources from STR and other places that are useful when talking about issues such as abortion, stem cell research and euthanasia.

Here are just a few of the topics addressed:

Save rats? Kill people? GE looking for ways to further research

From CNSNews.com comes this story about GE Healthcare, a subsidary of General Electric, and its efforts to use embryonic stem cell research to test drug toxicity and spare poor lab rats:

On June 30, GE Healthcare and Geron Corporation announced a multi-year alliance where Geron will provide GE scientists with an undisclosed amount of human embryonic stem cells.
 
The human cells will be used “to develop and commercialize cellular assay products derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) for use in drug discovery, development and toxicity screening,” according to a news release.
 
GE Healthcare, which is based in Britain, hopes that human embryonic testing will spare lab rats from having potentially toxic drugs in or on the animals.
 
“This could replace, to a large extent, animal trials,” Konstantin Fiedler, general manager of cell technologies at GE Healthcare, told Reuters.
 
“Once you have human cells and you can get them in a standardized way, like you get right now, your lab rats in a standardized way, you can actually do those experiments on those cells,” he added.

But this is all nonsense, says Dr. David Prentice, senior fellow for life science at the Family Research Council:

[Prentice said] that embryos must be killed before stem cells can be derived from them for research purposes.
 
“Human embryonic stem cell research is ethically irresponsible and scientifically unworthy, as well as useless for patients,” Prentice said.
 
Prentice explained that General Electric’s optimism in saving lab animals from testing by using hESCs is also largely unfounded.
 
“There is always going to be a problem on trying to rely just on cultured cells to do drug testing,” Prentice explained.

The problem, he said, is that many drugs are metabolized in the liver and other parts of the body and those metabolized substances then become the active ingredients of the drugs.
 
“Treating just cells in culture will give you some idea of toxicity or perhaps effectiveness on a certain cell type, but will not actually work for the whole organ, or the entire system, or the organism,” Prentice said. “So this is not going to replace all animal testing.

Prentice also pointed out that most of the research involving embryonic stem cells thus far has produced no valid therapies, while successful therapies for several diseases and conditions are already in place using adult stem cells, he said.

But, of course, the problem with adult stem cells, which have no ethical baggage associated with them, is that the president who said we must not put ideology over science has pulled government funding for that research.

Breakthrough: Restoring sight by adult stem cell treatment

Adult stem cell technology is amazing in what it can accomplish. The video below shows how sight is being restored using contact lenses coated with the person’s own stem cells. WARNING: There is eye surgery shown in parts that may be hard to watch for the squeamish.

That is great news. Josh Brahm comments on that and points out that you should be careful when reading stories about these breakthroughs. As a headline writer myself, I can say that biases aren’t always there when headlines are written. But I also know that subtleties can be lost when readers look at headlines and don’t read stories all the way through. Also, while headlines can be innocently vague, it does irritate me when stories are vaguely written or edited. That is shoddy journalism. Saying stem cell research when it is actually adult (or ISP) stem cell research is either laziness or brazen misrepresentation. Either way it’s wrong.

The chilling words recounted

ultrasoundGretchen Naugle, wife of Desiring God resources director Lukas Naugle, recounts at A Beautiful Work a disturbing episode in her life:

This month marks a strange anniversary of sorts for me. It was 2 years ago this month that I was sitting in a chair looking at my unborn baby in 4D. She was precious! We had previously found out that our baby had several “markers” for down syndrome and had enlarged kidneys which may have required surgery upon birth. Thus we were monitored more carefully and had a ton more ultrasound shots at a hospital. This was the first level 3 ultrasound with this pregnancy (I had had one with my 3rd with no problems). I got to gaze upon my baby for almost a full hour – it was wonderful! I was there alone as my husband was out of town. The specialist doctor called me in after the ultrasound to go over the findings. The first words out of his mouth to me were “Well you will have to come in tomorrow for your abortion because of how far along you are.” I was utterly shocked and devastated. All I could do was mutter “What??????” He then proceeded to tell me that my baby had more “markers” for down syndrome and it didn’t look good. I was more shocked that his automatic assumption was that I would abort my baby. I almost couldn’t comprehend what he was telling me in that office. All I wanted to do was run as far away from that man as possible.

Read the rest of the post to see that, unfortunately, Gretchen’s encounter is not that uncommon for women with babies diagnosed with Down syndrome.

New ground being broken in Georgia on embryo adoptions

From the Christian Examiner:

ATLANTA — The nation’s first law governing the adoption of embryos is set to take effect in Georgia after being passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.

The “Option of Adoption Act,” which will go into effect July 1, will provide safeguards for both parties involved in an embryo adoption, which is a unique form of adoption in which a couple — often an infertile one — adopts one or more surplus embryos from a couple who has undergone in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

Embryo adoption allows the adopting mother to experience pregnancy and has been promoted by pro-lifers for years but, until now, has not been governed by the laws of any state. Significantly, the Georgia bill amends Georgia’s adoption laws to make clear that embryo adoption in fact is a form of adoption. The law also allows adoptive parents to file in court for a final order of adoption (for the child who is born as the result of the embryo adoption), which supporters of the new law say clarifies that the adopting parents are eligible for claiming some but not all of their expenses for the federal adoption tax credit, which this year is more than $11,000.

Although embryo adoption tends to be cheaper than traditional adoption it nevertheless can still cost several thousands of dollars.

Couples who undergo an embryo adoption in a state without such a law as Georgia’s must sign private legal contracts that treat the embryo as property. The new Georgia law defines an embryo as “an individualized fertilized ovum of the human species from the single-cell stage to eight-week development.”

The law has the support of the nation’s embryo adoption programs, including Nightlight Christian Adoptions, which runs the nation’s oldest embryo adoption program — the Snowflakes program.

“Science has outpaced our legislation in clarifying the rights of the parties in potential disputes involving embryo transfer between families,” Ron Stoddart, executive director of Nightlight Christian Adoptions, previously told Baptist Press. “There needs to be certainty, particularly before an embryo is thawed and implanted in the womb of an adopting mother.”

HT: Zach Nielsen

Taking issue with Obama’s speech at Notre Dame

Don’t worry, this isn’t demonizing. It’s just taking issue with some of the things the president said Sunday during his commencement speech at Notre Dame. From Wesley Smith at Secondhand Smoke:

President Obama spoke at Notre Dame today, an invitation that created divisions within the Catholic Church that are beyond our scope or concern here. But in reading about the president’s speech, I was reminded of how adept Obama is in saying one thing while doing just the opposite; such as claiming in his speech to support a conscience clause for health professionals on the issue of abortion (which would also apply to assisted suicide, etc.). From the story:

He called for an effort to “honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women,” Obama said.

Obama plans to revise a Bush-era “conscience clause,” which would cut off federal funding for hospitals and health plans that didn’t allow doctors and other health-care workers to refuse to participate in care they believe conflicts with their personal or moral beliefs. Women’s health advocates and abortion rights supporters say it creates a major obstacle to family planning and other treatments.

No, Obama–or at least his administration (is there a difference?)plans to revoke the Bush conscience clause, not revise it. That is hardly honoring heterodox thinkers’ consciences.

And if we are going to base policies on “sound science,” how about starting with the biological fact that embryos and fetuses are living human organisms? Alas, during the campaign, then Senator Obama said such determinations are above his “pay grade.” (Not anymore, they’re not.) Pretending that human embryos and fetuses are not “human life” (what are they, Martian?) may not resolve these contentious ethical issues, but if our policies are going to reflect “sound science,” so that we can create policies based on “clear ethics,” then the biological facts should quit being fudged.