We can’t find this in any of the scientific journals, but it’s been in the news lately. A typical story is in Newsweek: A Controversial Human-monkey Chimera Has Been Created in China, According to a New Report, which says, with our bold font:
Scientists in China have reportedly created part human, part monkey chimera embryos for the first time. The team hope the technique will bring animals used to grow human organs for transplantation a step closer, Spain’s El Pais newspaper reported.
An international team of scientists working in China genetically modified the embryos of monkeys by turning off the genes which create organs, and then inserted human stem cells. Stem cells are special because they can become another type of cell in the body, such as a nerve of muscle cell. … If successful, scientists could create chimeras which contain organs made of human cells. A chimera is an organism which contains two different sets of DNA.
It should be no surprise that this, ah, abomination has come to the attention of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. He just posted this at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), his creationist ministry: Human-Monkey Chimeras Developed in China. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
Headlines around the world [He links to this in TheScientist: First Human–Monkey Chimeras Developed in China] announced that an international team of scientists working in China had created human-monkey chimeras. These “chimeras,” grown as embryos, have both human and monkey cells, and the goal is to grow organs able to be transplanted into humans waiting for an organ donor. This kind of research shows a complete and utter disregard for human life on a number of levels and crosses lines I don’t think should be crossed.
Ooooooooooooh! It crosses lines that shouldn’t be crossed! Then he says:
Dr. Georgia Purdom, a molecular geneticist here at Answers in Genesis, sent me her thoughts on this troubling news item:
[Hambo quotes Sweet Georgia Purdom:] The researchers have good intentions in wanting to grow organs in monkeys that could be used for transplant purposes, saving many human lives. However, there appears to be no way to control where the human cells* [Asterisk explained later.] migrate and what organs they are ultimately incorporated into. If they become incorporated into the brain, this raises serious ethical issues. Could these chimeras develop a human consciousness? [Gasp!] It would seem an unwise chance to take.
Those commenting on the research think it’s “unclear” if a human-monkey chimera will fully develop to the point where the organs could be useful for transplant. Their reasoning? The evolutionary distance of “30–40 million years” since humans and monkeys last shared a common ancestor may be too great. From a biblical worldview, our reasoning for the chimeras not developing is very different.
What’s the biblical reason? Sweet Georgia says:
God created animals according to their kind, including several different monkey kinds, but man was made separate and different because man was made in the image of God and given dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:26–28). Monkeys and humans are not the same kind; therefore, a fully developed chimera seems highly unlikely.
It’s worse than that! The human “kind” is so different from all others that growing human organs in a monkey should be as unlikely as growing them in a palm tree! As for that mysterious asterisk after “human cells,” it’s explained at the end of the article:
* Currently available literature is not clear on the source of the cells, but it does not appear to be embryonic stem cells.
Okay, returning to Hambo, he tells us:
Because many — if not most — scientists refuse to recognize that humans are uniquely made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and are not animals, they continue to cross and blur ethical lines. [The fools!] But the ends don’t justify the means. Just because the end goal is good (growing organs to transplant for needy individuals) does not make the means justifiable.
But what if it works? Hey — what if Hambo or someone in his family desperately needs an organ transplant, and the only one available was grown in a monkey? Would the organ be refused — even if refusal means an unnecessarily premature death? [Please note: That question was entirely hypothetical. Your Curmudgeon has only benevolent thoughts.] Anyway, Hambo finishes with this:
We need to have an ethic in scientific studies that recognizes the inherent value of human life, including human life that is in the earliest stage of development. In other words, we need to have a truly Christian worldview when examining such issues, based on God’s Word!
But if Hambo’s “truly Christian worldview” means an unnecessarily early death for someone, well, we won’t worry about that until such an option is available.
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