This past Monday, March 9, 2009, President Obama reversed George W. Bush’s executive order regarding human embryonic stem cell research. In supporting his decision President Obama used extraordinary reasoning. He stated that scientific decisions should be based upon facts, not ideology. The President’s new executive order will have a major impact on your parenting. What does this have to do with parenting? That’s the critical question, but we need a little more information before giving the answer.
First, here is the President’s quote in context:
"Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values," Obama declared, as he signed documents changing U.S. science policy and removing what some researchers have said were shackles on their work. "It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda — and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology," Obama said. (March 10, 2009 AP)To clarify, here is how The American Heritage Dictionary defines ideology:
1. The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture. 2. A set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.
So President Obama is saying that a decision to destroy human embryos is a decision that should not be based upon a set of ideas, doctrine or beliefs that define a culture. This is shocking. Here is another point to help frame the seriousness of this issue. The Boston Globe reported on the President's order in its March 10th edition. Included in the article is a succinct comment about embryonic stem cell research:
Human embryonic stem cells have the capacity to develop into any tissue in the body, such as insulin-producing cells that might eventually be used to treat diabetes, or neurons that could replace ones that die off during Lou Gehrig's disease. The potent cells are seen as important research tools, as well as promising treatments. But they have caused much political and ethical debate because human embryos are destroyed when the cells are extracted.
The Boston Globe believes that the destruction of human embryos is subject to ethical debate. Apparently, the President does not.
This executive order then, has important implications for your family. The logical conclusion from the President’s remarks is that science and ethics can be divorced from each other. When your child learns scientific data in the context of this line of thinking, he must not consider the data as having ethical implications. Scientific facts stand alone. But is a "scientific fact" reliable? Many of us were taught the scientific fact that there are nine planets In our solar system. But now it is possible that there are only eight planets, because Pluto might be only a dead comet instead of a planet. The nature of science is discovery, not dogma. Science, by its nature, is a dynamic process. Scientific “facts” are properly understood as things to be tested and retested. In order for these facts to have constructive meaning they must be placed in an ideological framework. Your children need to know this. Apart from placement within some kind of worldview, a scientific fact has no direction for good or evil. For example, the process of splitting an atom is a scientific fact. But this fact has profound ideological implications. This process can be used to provide power for light bulbs, run a huge aircraft carrier, or be the instrument of destruction for hundreds of thousands of people. To say that the decision to split an atom must be made apart from ideological considerations is unthinkable. The same is true for the decision to destroy human embryos in order to accomplish a potential greater good. This decision has huge ideological import: for the sake of attempting to cure a lethal disease, it is now deemed appropriate to destroy living human embryos. And further, the President is saying that this is a scientific decision only and has nothing to do with ideology!
Parents, that is just a little information on a large topic, but it is enough to show why you must be concerned. Only biblical truth, properly used to form a biblical worldview, provides the wisdom to navigate the treacherous waters to which science has opened the door. You must not leave the idea of worldview to the academic ivory tower while the waters are flooding the homes and the marketplace. Forming a biblical worldview starts when you rise up, when you lie down and when you walk along the way. Talk with your pastor, your friends at church and others. Do not let your children believe that the noble cause of scientific research justifies the taking of life. Like it or not, postmodernism has come to your living room. You must talk about this with your children. Ideology matters. It matters for life and death.
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