I do not think that researchers are "playing God;" rather they are using the talents and abilities that God has given them. Those who imply that they are playing God imply a certain impotence on the part of God with which I do not agree.
C.S. Lewis defined a miracle as a violation of the laws of nature. Stem cell researchers are not violating the laws of nature; rather they are exploring them to an extent never before dreamed. If there is no violation, there is no miracle, and if they aren't working miracles, they certainly aren't "playing God."
I do agree with other posters that stem cell research and cloning both present a high potential for abuse, as did the discovery of nuclear power. I only hope and pray that this potential for abuse will not be realized.
I agree with #5 - it's not the process that is evil, it's the potential uses of the process. I do think there are significant issues to be faced in the future as the bioethics of medicine tries to come to grips with what science has made possible. There is lots of opportunity for exploitation and unethical practice in the development of stem cell application, in the use of genetic information to select/engineer/treat conditions and diseases, etc., but the knowledge is not inherently "evil" in and of itself.
No, they are not playing God. To me that term implies power-driven behavior. These individuals, on the other hand, are usually motivated to help those suffering from debilitating illness. Although I will grant that there is a slippery slope when it comes to genetic study and the creation or manipulation of human cells, I do not think the process in itself is evil.
In a sense, all medical researchers are trying to "play God," right? Any time that we use any sort of medicine to prevent things that would happen to us naturally from occuring, are we not "playing God?" I think that the idea of "playing God" really has very little meaning. I think it is a pejorative way to describe anything that you think is immoral/improper.
I don't see stem cell therapies as any different than organ transplants, which are not a political hot item at all; in a transplant you are moving a mature piece of material, rather like transplanting a tree, whereas with stem cells you are planting a seed and letting it mature in place. The big differences are that for an organ transplant someone has to die, or at a minimum undergo major surgery, to donate, and after transplantation the recipient must take incredibly expensive and health-damaging immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of his or her life. Stem cells have neither of these drawbacks.
Although certain political factions would have us believe that all stem cells are gotten by killing human embryos, that is not correct - stem cells can be harvested from a placenta after the birth, and scientists are finding more and more cases of stem cells in various areas of the adult human body.
Is vaccination "playing God"? How about Cesarean section? The reality is that if politicians had taken the time to understand the scientific facts and refrained from using stem cell research as an anti-abortion bully pulpit, this particular discussion question would probably never have arisen.
Do you think that stem cell researchers are trying to "play" God or not? I think that it is amazing what we are able to do with them. What are some thoughts?
In my judgment, stem cell research isn't playing God any more than the selective breeding of animal like dogs, or the selective hybridization of various plants for human use and consumption. Humans have always progressed by intelligently manipulating their environment. I think stem cell research is one more step in a direction that humans have been taking for quite some time.