On Michael D. West and the Medical Crusade to Defeat Death, Part 2

In last week’s blog, I introduced the topic of Michael D. West’s crusade against human mortality. West’s ardent desire, as he puts it, has long been to  “extract the ‘green essence’ of life, the secret of the immortal renewal of life, to hold it in my hand and to give it to my fellow human being.”

The quest, for West, is, in fact, a matter of moral obligation of such gravity as to trump any concern of “trespassing in a realm in which we humans have no right to go.” Neighbor love, he believes, demands biomedical crusade. As he further states, “Every human being should have not only the right but the passionate duty to reach out with all his or her strength to help others, even if it involves such controversial technology as cloning. If that means playing God, then it is playing God in a good way. I realized that I would do anything to save a human life, short of harming a fellow human.”


What key assumptions do you find in West’s defense of the biomedical crusade against death?

What do you think of the criticism that West and others like him are  “playing God” in their pursuit of the “green essence?” Is there a legitimate concern that biomedicine might be encroaching upon divine sovereignty over human life? If so, where is the line to be drawn?

Does the fact that West’s critics generally  value the project of medicine (i.e. human intervention in the course of disease) undermine their use of the “playing God” argument?


Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
2 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
Erik ClarySteve PhillipsRalph Davis Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Ralph Davis
Ralph Davis

Michael D. West is determined to defeat death because “interestingly,” as you say, “he surrendered his belief in man as a special creation to an evolutionary account of human origins”. And why did he loose his faith in God as creator? I think this is the real question of the book. Was it because he couldn’t reconcile a loving, all powerful God with all the death and suffering he saw? And why did he go to the meaningless, purposeless, directionless process of evolution? The answer, I believe, is because if one rejects God as Creator then the only other “story”… Read more »

Steve Phillips

Another part of understanding how a world with suffering and death is compatible with God who is loving and all powerful is understanding what it means to love. Love involves making a choice. If human beings are to be able to love they must be able to make real choices. Genesis shows us that human beings were given a choice to love and obey God or not. The choice not to love God lead to suffering and death. It is appropriate to seek to defeat death, but that was done by Jesus in his choice to give his life for… Read more »