Can a baby be produced in a laboratory without sperm and an egg? The answer for mice, at least, is a partial “yes.” Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Sciences in Israel produced a “lab-created womb” in which they placed mouse stem cells producing a mouse embryo. The synthetic embryo “lived” for eight days.
Researchers could coax stem cells into a placenta or yolk sac by treating stem cells with chemicals. Then other stem cells developed into organs and tissues without intervention by the researchers. Some turned into beating heart tissue or a rudimentary nervous system. However, 99.5% of the stem cells failed.
This kind of research has a practical purpose beyond producing a synthetic embryo. For example, scientists hope to eventually grow human organs in a synthetic womb to replace diseased organs for which no donor is available. Scientists have already used this system to produce rudimentary artificial kidneys and hearts, but they are not yet suitable for medical use. Researchers are also hoping to find a way to nurture premature babies outside of the mother’s womb.
It is not true that all human stem cells come from aborted babies. Stem cells can be derived from various cells in the human body and can even be secured, under the right conditions, from a person who has just died. These stem cells are called “induced pluripotent stem cells.”
Like many efforts to produce life, researchers are copying natural processes to create a synthetic embryo of a mouse. Scientists and engineers have copied God’s creation for many practical uses. We have frequently shown how engineers have copied what they see in nature to produce everything from Velcro to jet engines. The debate among philosophers and ethics professionals concerns philosophical and ethical problems with this type of medical research.
Over and over, the biblical writers challenge us to learn from the natural world. In Job chapters 38 to 41, we see God challenging Job to deal with the creation in which he was living. Proverbs 6:6 says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise.” In Proverbs 8:22-31, Wisdom challenges us to think about the design and planning of God’s creation.
The struggle to duplicate the design of reproduction that God built into living things shows us how impossible it is to believe that the original creation was the product of blind chance. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “We can know there is a God through the things He has made (Romans 1:20).
— John N. Clayton © 2022
Reference: Global Research