We note, with regret, the passage of the Third Reading of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in the House of Commons on October 22. It must now go to the House of Lords where a process called "ping pong" takes place to settle points of detail. Then it will receive the Royal Assent. There is an irony here because what has been taking place is a Ping Pong game with human life.
Make no mistake: for all the language of legal detail, we are talking about a fundamental divide in what we take human life to be. Who are the masters here?
The fall of Lucifer and his angels, the disobedience of Adam and Eve, Noah's Flood and the Tower of Babel are all illustrations of man declaring himself master, and no longer accountable to God. The consequences are dread.
The puny House of Commons, supported by puny public opinion, has decided that we little men are in charge. God, who "probably does not exist", has been de-throned. To refer to the possibility that he is the Creator who holds every atom of the universe in existence through his timeless will is to invite mockery, and even accusations of circulating dangerous propaganda. There seems to be now no boundaries to arrogance.
We may still hope that some will listen to the words spoken in the debate by John Hayes, MP for South Holland and The Deepings, which we abbreviate here. He started by quoting Chesterton: "Those thinkers who cannot believe in any gods often assert that the love of humanity would be in itself sufficient for them; and so, perhaps, it would, if they had it."
Mr Hayes went on to say: "Surely humanity means that we regard other human life as we regard our own. Such is the ethics of humanity. So it is our shared humanity that distinguishes us from animals; that determines how we should behave to one another; and determines especially that we should not deliberately distort the lives, or expedite the deaths, of fellow humans, whether those fellow human beings are born or unborn."
"It seems to me that the expectation of living — for those incapable of conscious choice — is the same because of their shared humanity, and that is the prevailing view that should underpin our considerations. It is not self-consciousness, capacity for reason or autonomy that make us human, but something altogether more fundamental. Of course science matters, but, frankly, morals matter more."
We associate ourselves with those fine words. In truth, for all the great and admirable advances of science, we have only scraped the shell of knowledge. Global warming, earthquakes, tsunamis — even the current economic crisis — all remind us how little we know and can control. And the whole realm of the spiritual: the very elements of the dignity that comes from being made in the image of God. elude the microscope. "All things have been given me by my Father," said Jesus. That might with profit be written over the door of every laboratory and debating chamber.