August 2006


One of my favorite verses in Scripture is II Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (KJV) While reading Daniel Wallace’s presentation on the history of the English Bible I was astonished to discover that this verse–oft quoted in Bible colleges and seminaries throughout the nation–does not mean what it appears to. Wallace pointed out that the Greek work translated “study” in the KJV, spoudazo, means “be eager, do one’s best to….”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–> While we may be tempted to think the KJV translators mistranslated this word, the reality is that their translation was accurate…in 1611. You see, in 1611 “study” meant “be eager, be diligent.” Only by extension and continued association with learning did the word come to denote what it does today. The connection between the historic and modern meaning is clear. One who is eager to learn (studious) spends a lot of effort doing so, hence studying.

 

While “study” was an appropriate translation in 1611, it is no longer appropriate today. Unfortunately the KJV still retains this archaic language, causing people to misunderstand some of what God intended to convey in this passage. All is not lost, however, because while “study” is an improper translation of spoudazo, the sense of the passage remains essentially the same, because an eagerness to rightly divide the word of truth will necessarily manifest itself in what we mean by “study” today.


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<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–>Daniel Wallace, “The History of the English Bible: From the KJV to the RV”; available from http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=1824; Internet; accessed 21 June 2006.

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The mainstream media is on a roll. First CNN Money reported on the fact that adult stem cell research is more advanced and useful than embryonic stem cell research, and that this is not about to change anytime soon. Now the New York Times has does the same.

 

In the August 14th edition Nicholas Wade wrote an article entitled “Some Scientists See Shift in Stem Cell Hopes.” The most significant excerpts as follows:

 

Many researchers now see human embryonic stem cells as part of a long-term research program, with any sort of cell therapy being at least 5 or 10 years off.

That projection shows a gap between scientists’ views and those of the public and of people for whom the overriding purpose of research with human embryonic stem cells is to generate cells that can restore damaged tissues.

Thomas M. Jessell, a neurobiologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, said that he hoped to see the research generate new drugs for neurodegenerative diseases within the next five years but that it could be a long time before rational cell-based therapies are effective.

“Many of us feel that for the next few years the most rational way forward is not to try to push cell therapies,” Dr. Jessell said.

Stem cell scientists interviewed for the article are saying that the only short-term benefit embryonic stem cell research might yield is a better understanding of what causes certain diseases.

 

Many researchers have come to see the primary benefit of human embryonic stem cells as models for human disease. The idea is to take a cell from a patient, convert it to embryonic form, and then make the embryonic cell mature into the type that goes awry in the patient’s disease, whether it be a dopamine-producing cell for Parkinson’s disease or an insulin-making cell for diabetes.

Somewhere down this developmental path, the basic cause of the disease may emerge, and be available for study in a dish of cells. The diseased cells should also provide an excellent means of screening thousands of chemicals for new drugs.

“Stem cell biology is just a rubric that applies to many things going on in biology,” said John D. Gearhart, a Johns Hopkins University stem cell expert. “I personally feel that the beauty of these cells is that we’ll learn a lot about human biology and disease processes, and that that information will be more important than the cells themselves.”

Oh how stem cell researchers are singing a different tune after they have received all sorts of federal and state money to perform such research. Prior to the money being given they promised the world. After receiving the money they are trying to manage people’s misinformed expectations.

Scott Klusendorf of Life Training Institute has written a succinct and powerful polemic on why the public—both conservative and liberal—ought to oppose embryonic stem cell research. I think it is a valuable read. Here it is:

Let me be clear: I fully support ethical stem cell research. But I’m opposed to one type of stem cell research that involves destroying human embryos for medical research.

Supporters of Destructive embryo research want to force the taxpayers of America to pay billions of dollars funding highly speculative research that the government, already in financial ruin, cannot afford. Senior citizens are having their services cut; schools are closing; roads are left in disrepair; children’s health care needs are not met—and we’re supposed to go deeper into debt by passing legislation that would force us to pay for speculative embryo research for years to come? To date, treatments using embryo cells have yet to cure one person of any illness. Not one! Meanwhile, ethical alternatives using adult stem cells are currently treating over 70 known diseases.

Sadly, those supporting destructive embryo research believe that human beings that are in the wrong location or have the wrong level of development do not deserve the protection of law. They assert, without justification, the belief that strong and independent humans deserve basic human rights while small and dependent ones do not. This view is elitist and exclusive. It violates the principle that once made political liberalism great: our basic commitment to protect the most vulnerable members of the human community. We can do better than that. In the past, we used to discriminate on the basis of skin color and gender, but now, with elective abortion, we discriminate on the basis of size, level of development, location, and degree of dependency. We’ve simply swapped one form of bigotry for another. In sharp contrast, the position I defend is that no human being regardless of size, level of development, race, gender, or place of residence, should be excluded from the human family. In other words, my view of humanity is inclusive, indeed wide open, to all, especially those that are small, vulnerable, and defenseless.

As at least one columnist has said, “Given a choice between a therapy that happens to be lethal for human subjects and one that is not, wouldn’t we be inclined to favor the therapy that is not lethal? Wouldn’t that be even more the case if that non-lethal therapy turns out to be vastly more promising, and far less speculative, than the lethal therapy?” Stem cells drawn from adults have already yielded some striking achievements, and they do not require the killing of the human being from whom they are drawn. The extraction of stem cells from human embryos does, however, result in the destruction of defenseless human beings.

Therefore, I cannot support embryo research without violating the very principle that made the Democratic Party great in the first place–namely, our party’s concern for the weak and vulnerable. At the same time, people with illnesses deserve real cures, not false promises from politicians. You have my word: I pledge to campaign for maximum government support to find those cures, ethically.

http://lti-blog.blogspot.com/2006/08/progressive-case-agaisnt-escr-sk.html

Opponents of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) have long pointed out that adult stem cell research (ASCR) is far more advanced than embryonic stem cell research. Adult stem cells are being used in hundreds of human clinical trials, and are currently responsible for 72 treatments. How does ESCR measure up? Currently there are no human ESCR clinical trials, and no ESC treatments. Generally speaking the mainstream media is mum on the existence of ASCR, yet alone the advances of ASCR. Once in a while, however, you will get a mainstream news organization to do some honest reporting on the status of the research. On August 9, 2006 CNN Money did just that.

 

As the financial wing of CNN, the online article focused on investments. If one wants to invest in stem cell research, where should they put their money? In no uncertain terms CNN staff writer, Aaron Smith, suggests betting on ASCR. Here are some important excerpts of the article:

 

Embryonic stem cells might hold the secrets to curing paralysis and brain damage, but they’ve also garnered plenty of controversy with the anti-abortion lobby because they’re harvested from embryos. However, work using adult stem cells – which are donated by grown men and women – is not only free of such controversy, it’s actually much closer to getting effective products on the market.

The adult stem cell research at several biotech outfits in particular – Osiris, Cytori, Aastrom – is worth keeping an eye on according to analysts. “From a Wall Street perspective, adult stem cells are a much better investment,” said Stephen Dunn of Dawson James Securities. “These are the guys who are going to be in the news in 2007 and 2008.”

“Embryonic stem cell research hasn’t kept up pace with adult stem cell research,” said Dunn. “Adult stem cell research is advancing so far you might not need embryonic stem cells. If the federal government is reluctant to put their money into it, then Wall Street is as well.”

So while embryonic stem cell researchers are experimenting with rats, adult stem cell researchers have moved on to more advanced tests with humans. The embryonic-based stem cell treatments are probably a decade away, but the U.S. market could see its first adult-based stem cell treatments within the next couple of years.

Did you hear that? Treatments using ESCs are a decade away (and this is a conservative number), but not so with ASCs. ESCR is being left in the dust. Remind me again why it is that biotech industries, state governments, our federal government, and the media are pushing for a form of research that is morally problematic, likely unnecessary, and not fruitful when we have a form of research that is morally acceptable and fruitful?

Japanese researchers have been able to revert adult mouse stem cells into an embryonic-like state according to the online article from the journal, Cell. If this same technology can be used on adult stem cells we will be able to obtain all the benefits of embryonic stem cell research without the moral problems associated with it. Of course, should we be able to do so I can guarantee you biotech industries will still be pushing for cloning and the destruction of human embryos. See this article that explains why.

On the lighter side of things check out this hilarious Christian video Baby Got Book. It is a play on Sir-Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.” It will have you rolling!

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