It may seem a long time ago now, but nevertheless the event is still something that deserves recollection and comment. At 11.47 p.m. on July 25th 1978 a baby girl weighing 5 pounds and 12 ounces was born to Lesley Brown, wife of Gilbert Brown of Bristol. The baby was in every respect normal in appearance. She was a fine looking girl, and the parents named her Louise. If this was all, then there wouldn’t be the need to write about her here, because babies are born every day, all over the world, and few ever hit the headlines. But there was something unusual about the whole event, because she was the first case of what have subsequently been called “test-tube babies.”
John and Lesley Brown were unable to have children. They had been trying for nine years. Eventually they were referred to the famous gynaecologist Dr Patrick Steptoe in 1976. OnNovember 10th 1977 he took an egg from one of Lesley’s ovaries, and handed it to Dr Edwards, who mixed Lesley’s egg with John’s sperm. After fertilisation, it was placed in a special solution designed to nurture the cell, and 2½ days later returned to Lesley’s uterus. For the first time in such experiments, the egg stuck to the uterine wall, and grew to full term. Baby Louise was therefore the first to be born by “In-vitro fertilisation”, (IVF), an expression which means, literally, “in glass fertilisation.”
From a purely scientific perspective, there would appear to be no reason for preventing such an operation. Most would hail it as a miracle, if it produced a live birth. But from the Christian viewpoint, one immediately has a brake on the very thought of such action. One only has to read the story of Hannah in first Samuel, to realise that God, as the Author of life, sometimes withholds the power to conceive. It may be because of internal physical abnormalities within the woman, or live sperm depletion in the man. Or it may be that God has prevented conception in a sovereign manner. Whatever may be the cause of infertility, prayer is the correct approach to the solution of the problem. If by prayer the Lord still withholds this power, then the parents are able to seek adoption. This may seem to be a very cold and clinical judgment on women who pine for pregnancy – after all it is their normal God-given inclination in life. But the Bible has been given to the world as a way, the only sure way to understand the problems of life, and to look to science, no matter how alluring it may be, is to emulate the disobedience of King Saul, who, because he couldn’t get an answer in any other way, went to the witch of Endor, a forbidden practice by Mosaic legislation, and one for which he, Saul, had at times called for the death penalty during his inglorious reign.
The September 1978 edition of the READER magazine contained the following article, which we quote in full before making any further comment. [Please note that the father’s name appears as Gilbert, but in fact it should be John. We are not sure how this arose; possibly Mr Brown possessed both names.]
Test Tube Baby Reads Thoughts
And Moves Solid Objects With Her Mind
Six weeks old, the miracle Test Tube Baby of England can move solid objects with its mind and shows it can read the thoughts of others.
These are the amazing reports coming from Bristol, England, where baby Louise Brown now lives under heavy guard with her parents, Gilbert and Lesley Brown.
The infant, born July 25th, began showing alarming psychic abilities shortly after coming home from Oldham General Hospital.
“Baby Louise looked at a teddy bear on a shelf near her crib. The doll slid off onto the floor,” confided George Landingham, one of the security guards hired by the London DAILY MAIL to protect the Brown home. The DAILY MAIL has exclusive rights to all stories and photos about the world’s first test tube baby.
“The same day, the mother carried a stack of clean diapers into the nursery. She was holding them firmly at the top and bottom of the stack. But suddenly they slid out of her hands. Mrs Brown said she felt an unseen force tug the diapers out of her hand. Then she noticed baby Louise was staring oddly in her direction.”
The guard said Mrs Brown went into near panic when she entered the nursery first thing one morning, and found all the furniture pulled away from the walls. “A chest of drawers was in the middle of the room, 10 feet from its normal position,” he reveals. “A nightstand which had been near the crib was on the other side of the room, completely turned round. A picture on the wall had fallen to the floor. Yet no one had been in the room for the past six hours, when the baby had its 2 a.m. feeding.”
In the first few days after baby Louise came home, the only visitors besides relatives were medical representatives of Oldham Hospital, making regular medical checks on the infant’s progress. However, after reports of the strange occurrences began to surface, noted psychiatrists, neurosurgeons, and brain specialists were seen entering and leaving. They included Dr James Durville-Smith, chief of neurosurgery at London College of Medicine; Dr Winston P. Nicolson, chief of psychiatry at the same institution; Dr Lawrence Attenborough, brain specialist from Liverpool; and Dr Manfred J. Lichtenstein, German-born psychiatrist generally considered to be Britain’s top expert in paranormal brain activity.
All except Dr Lichtenstein have refused to comment on the nature of their visits to the Brown home. He stated carefully, “Problems concerning the baby’s mental development have arisen. Certain things have occurred which were totally unforeseen. Physically, the baby is healthy and normal. The problem involves what appears to be a highly irregular brain abnormality.” Asked if the Brown infant were retarded, the doctor snapped, “Quite the opposite!” He refused to answer more questions.
The same group of doctors, plus others, have been seen entering the offices of Dr Patrick Steptoe, the famous gynaecologist who performed the breakthrough procedure of fertilising an ovum from Mrs Brown outside her body. Dr Steptoe and his colleague Dr Edwards are completely incognito since rumours of strange mental powers in the Brown baby began to be heard. The guard detail around the Brown’s modest home in a working class neighbourhood ofBristol has been doubled. Even the I.Ds of close relatives are constantly checked and rechecked.
“All I know is that it’s easier to get into the Queen’s private chambers at BuckinghamPalace than into the Brown’s front yard,” groused Charlie Parham, who lives next door. “You hear the strangest stories. I heard one of the security men say that the baby appears to be able to read her mum’s mind. For instance, when Mrs Brown thinks that it’s time for the baby’s feeding, the baby stops fretting even before she moves towards the kitchen.”
In London, Dr Frederick Sykes, a genetic expert who long has opposed the procedure which brought Mrs Brown a baby daughter, said that the parents and Dr Steptoe deserve the consequences if their baby is abnormal. “I have heard rumours,” he sighs, “and I can’t say that I’m surprised. When man is fumbling at the source of life, not even a brilliant physician as Dr Steptoe can read the consequences in advance. This implantation of Mrs Brown was a shot in the dark, as both Dr Steptoe and Dr Edwards have said. I have said all along that if Mrs Brown were brought to full term, the baby was likely to be abnormal. True, I felt that a physical deformity was most likely, or perhaps retardation. But super-normal power is also an abnormality. If it is true that the Brown baby has this quality, one of two things likely will happen. The child will have to be put away, or it will die very early in life because its own brain power will not permit it to live.” [End]
We have no way of checking the credibility of the above record. Some newspapers are known for their tendency to “create” news, rather than report it. This is especially true of a few unscrupulous tabloid dailies in British circulation. Unashamedly they make up startling stories and publish them as “news.” Thus far we have not been able to find any corroborating evidence concerning the strange happenings that occurred around Louise in her first weeks of life. All that we can say is that Dr Frederick Sykes’ prediction was way off beam. Louise, now at 23 years of age, appears quite normal, and is working in a Day Care Centre in England. But we echo the Doctor’s feelings about IVF. Could it be that God was showing His displeasure at the event, the first of its kind?
All that has been recorded so far, relates to 1978. Since then IVF has become a very common practice around the world. According to statistics presented by David Derbyshire,Thursday 29th June, 2000, one in 80 babies born in Britain is a test-tube baby. The success rate in this practice is around 22%, indicating the very large number of trials being made for infertile couples. In 1997 in Britain 34,000 cycles of IVF were carried out, resulting in 8,727 live births, 1.2% of all babies born that year. In America, the success rate is about 26%.
Now that IVF seems to be firmly established as a “cure” for infertility, further possibilities have emerged, for example –
- A dying man can have his sperm preserved in cold storage so that his wife can become pregnant by him after his death. (This actually happened to Diane Blood, who made medical history by having a child by her dead husband, Stephen. The baby boy, also named Stephen, was born on 11th December 1998, weighing 5 lb 13 oz.)
- A mother’s eggs may be frozen if she needs to undergo severe drug treatment which might otherwise cause damage to the ova. After the treatment, she would then be able to conceive by IVF.
- Genetic mothers, if they are incapable of holding the foetus, or wish to keep their bodies young, now have the option of hiring a woman to provide the services of her womb as a vivarium for the foetus. Surrogate motherhood is now taking place.
- Embryos can be frozen for future “use”, causing disputes as to “ownership” in the case of divorce.
We believe that science and technology is getting out of hand. Whereas many people look upon these things as the “wonders and miracles of modern science”, in fact God is being wholly left out of their thinking. The “occult” powers that were manifest in the presence of Louise Brown could well have been allowed by God to show that all such experiments to do with life processes are out of harmony with His ways, and therefore deeply subject to Satanic interference. The fact that it hasn’t happened since, amongst all the other cases of IVF, is beside the point. We believe that Judgement was being shown in the first case, precluding the necessity for it being shown subsequently.
Once genetic engineering became a viable possibility, teams of research scientists the world over began to experiment. In February 1997 “Dolly” the sheep was born, the first “clone”. In this week’s news (July 2001) we find the following –
“Advances in genetic engineering mean that lesbian couples could one day have their own child – without using male sperm. Experiments with mice suggest that it may be possible to create a human embryo by fusing an egg cell from another female in place of the sperm.”
The article went on to say, in more detail, how this might be achieved.
Here is an excerpt from the “Scientific American”, of March 3rd 1997. It’s main feature was Wilmut’s cloning of Dolly, but went on from there –
Wilmut’s work at the Roslin Institute in Scotland is supported by a biotechnology company, PPL Therapeutics in Edinburgh, which plans to use the patented cloning technique to produce animals that will secrete valuable drugs in their milk. Other researchers engaged in similar work note that it is unclear how much practical benefit Wilmut’s technique will yield in the short term: it is very labor-intensive and it required 277 nuclear transfers to produce the single, viable cloned lamb. At present, cloning from embryonic cells and even old-fashioned animal breeding are still more efficient ways of producing large numbers of genetically-altered animals, notes William Velander of Virginia Polytechnic institute. Nor is it certain that the technique used to create Dolly can be applied to other species.
Even so, Wilmut’s experiment provides a long-sought confirmation that adult cells do in fact contain workable versions of all the genes necessary to produce an entire organism. Moreover, the procedure will surely be refined and may become an important aid in all manner of biological and biomedical investigations. It might, for example, be used to mass-produce animals that mimic human diseases for research purposes. The technique might in time also be used to improve livestock.
As for the possible use of cloning to produce copies of humans, most ethicists’ initial reaction is that such an action would be unconscionable–although in the U.S., (unlike in the U.K. and many other nations,) it is not explicitly illegal. And opinions may change when confronted with real-world situations. Should grieving parents be denied the opportunity to produce an identical copy of their dying baby?
President Bill Clinton, who has asked the “National Bioethics Advisory Commission” to make recommendations on what controls should be placed on human cloning research, has banned the use of federal funds for such work. He has also asked private companies to honor a “voluntary moratorium” in the area. But if cloning of humans does prove practical, it may be impossible to prevent physicians from offering it–if not in the U.S., then offshore. Wilmut’s technique demands skill and patience, but the equipment required is commonplace in biology laboratories. Indeed, researchers at the Oregon Regional Primate Center in Beaverton, Ore., have announced that they have cloned monkeys from embryonic cells, and researchers have known for some years how to apply a similar technique to clone cows and rabbits. So a human in vitro fertilization facility might need only a modest extra investment to set itself up to clone patients.
—Tim Beardsley, staff writer
Before the Flood of Noah’s day, some angels cast off their higher dimensional form, and came down to earth with the sole purpose of cohabiting with human women. The offspring of such unions were not what they expected. They grew to enormous size, due (as one biologist stated) to the absence of the growth controlling hormone in the pituitary gland. These “Nephilim”,and later “Rephaim” created havoc on earth. But see what Isaiah was told about such beings. (Literal translation of Isa.26:14 & 19) “They are dead; they shall not live again; they are Rephaim, they shall not rise. You visited them and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish. – – – – Your dead ones shall live again; together with My dead body they shall arise, for your dew is as the dew on herbs; but the earth shall cast away the Rephaim.” This early case of “genetic engineering” produced beings that lived on earth, but were not creations of God. Therefore they could not become part of the resurrection promised to all mankind. “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor.15:22) It makes one stop and think about all these manufactured forms of life we hear about these days. Would a cloned human have a soul? Would he be destroyed like the Rephaim?
And so, finally, we see, in respect of Louise Brown, the hand of God at work, showing judgment on those who interfere in areas where He alone should act as Author of life. But how many will look in this direction, and act accordingly? Science never remains static. What starts off as a seeming wonder, proliferates in all manner of sordid directions, as shown by the possibilities mentioned above. How much longer will man’s inventions be allowed before the day of Divine Intervention? . . . . . . Even so, come Lord Jesus.