Ethical decisions are made everyday in the field of biomedicine. In an era of research and experimentation, modern science has created issues that are not even mentioned in the Bible. For example, the Scriptures are silent on subjects such as cloning, artificial insemination, test tube babies, and surrogate mothers.
In today’s society, the views of secular humanism form an important part in the ethical thinking of those involved in the practice of medicine and bio-medical research. According to the philosophy of the Secular Humanist Manifesto III, bio-medical ethical issues should be determined on the basis of scientific investigation and analysis. Secular humanists believe that man is responsible for transforming and improving society. Therefore, such matters as genetic improvement, cloning, abortion and euthanasia are alleged to be ascertained by the scientific method.
The secular humanists assert that medical science has both the right and duty to improve the quality of life as well as further what they consider to be the biological evolution of mankind. This could include gene splicing, cloning, sperm banks, artificial insemination and the use of surrogate mothers. Compulsory genetic control could then enforce genetic purity, eliminating the carriers of genetic diseases and defects. An aborted fetus would ethically be used to aid the cure of such things as Parkinson’s disease.
Secular humanism believes that man has the right to live and to die as he pleases. Suicide and euthanasia are considered to be amoral issues. The relief of human suffering and the creation of a better life are the primary concerns. This philosophy is utilitarian in that the end justifies the means. Thus any treatment or experimentation of humans is allowable as long as it supports the goal of the secular humanist. This view also has the goal of seeking the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
However, atheistic evolution is the basis for secular humanism. Man is considered to have evolved, rather than being a creation of God. Life is not considered sacred. There is no life after death. An individual merely ceases to exist. The objective of biomedical ethics is a higher quality of life. Man alone is thought to be responsible for improving the quality life on this earth.
What is meant by a higher quality of life? Who will benefit and what will be the cost?
Will it be obtained at the expense of an unborn child, a physically or mentally impaired person, the elderly, or a comatose patient? Who has the right to determine the means and nature of a higher quality of life? Will it be those involved in medical research, some pharmaceutical company, or an arm of government?
What kind of treatment will be used to improve life? Will medical science again experiment with people as the Nazis did during World War II? Will medical mistakes be made in an attempt to obtain a higher quality of life, creating genetically-engineered misfits and or a race of physically or mentally-impaired people? Will this generate new diseases and strains of bacteria that cannot be cured medically? A goal of the secular humanist in medical science is the development of a superior race of people. Will these then become a master race to rule over the rest of the world?
Many scientists believe that there is no scientific evidence to actually support the evolutionary theory. Since evolution is a theory, why does the secular humanist use it as a basic fact in bio-medical ethics? Medical science cannot create life. It certainly cannot prevent the ultimate death of humans. How then does medical science have the right to claim sovereignty over the living in an attempt to improve life?
The pursuit of a better quality of life by the secular humanists completely ignores the spiritual dimension. Improving or extending life does not solve the sin problem, nor does it address the issue of eternal life. The extended life span of those living in Old Testament times did not solve problems, but merely prolonged them.
Biblical Christianity does not discourage improving a quality of life through research and medicine. But scientific experimentation and medical treatment should always be biblically ethical and voluntary. These disciplines should seek to improve life, not create what is abnormal or destroy life as we know it. Medical research and practices are not free from accountability to God.
The basic ethical principles of the Bible are vastly different from secular humanism. Biblical ethics is grounded in:
1. The sovereignty of God. God created life and all mankind is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:16-17). As Creator, it is God who has the right to give life and take it away (Job 1:21; Deut. 32:39). Any attempt to create life or manipulate the time of death is a usurping of God’s plan.
2. The dignity of man. Since man is created in the image of God, experimenting with the lives of people and using them to create a super race destroys man’s dignity and God-given value.
3. The ethic of love (Matt. 22:37-40). Biomedicine has a responsibility to God’s code of ethics in showing love in its care and treatment of others.
Those conducting bio-medical research and experimentation on humans are accountable to the creator God. Decisions regarding bio-medical ethics must be evaluated from the following vantage points.
1. Is there an attempt to usurp God’s authority on matters of life and death?
2. Is creation rejected in favor of evolution?
3. Is life considered to be a sacred gift of God?
4. Is death recognized as the inevitable result of sin?
5. Is there an attempt to alter man as created by God?
6. Are the morality and dignity of man being respected?
7. Is the right to live and die in accordance with the will of those affected?
8. Is an enhanced quality of life a substitute for eternal life?
In conclusion, the Bible is the final authority in all ethical matters. Scripture does not oppose scientific and medical progress. But it is not primarily concerned with the improvement of human life as an end itself. It is mainly concerned with the salvation of the soul (John 3:16). It is the salvation of mankind through the substitutionary death of Christ that ultimately provides the greatest quality of life and man’s highest good. Eternal life, not enhanced physical life, is God’s ultimate goal for mankind.