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Human Dignity in the Biotech Century: A Christian Vision for Public Policy (Colson, Charles) Paperback – August 7, 2004
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"This volume comprises essays from the top thinkers and activists in the field on topics like learning from past mistakes, new technology, genetics, and transhumanism. Get ready for the science fiction realities of the 21st century, and get involved." (Paige C. Cunningham, Christianity Today, November 2009)
"Each article is well-referenced and hence quite helpful in pointing readers to a wealth of published material in academic journals and books, popular literature and news, and various academic and popular websites." (Jason T. Eberl for American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Fall 2007)
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Top Customer Reviews
The twelve essays alert the reader to the ethical and legal challenges facing our generation involving embryo research, stem cell research, cloning, generic engineering, gene therapy, pharmacogenomics, cybernetics, nanotechnology, and abortion. The papers are well researched and well reasoned and provide for the reader an excellent insight into the future of this debate from a biblical foundation.
The fundamental issue raised by the book regards the direction of our nation, especially in the area of public policy. Colson notes that the government's responsibility is not the greatest good for the greatest number (utilitarian theory), but rather the protection of the weak from the strong who would exploit them. That foundational biblical principle should be our guiding light as we enter this public debate - what kind of society do we want for the generations that follow - one that seeks to create life only to destroy it for the immediate benefit of those alive or one that seeks to protect and promote life based on its intrinsic value as a special creation of God.
Indeed, what it means to be human, what it is to be a person, and questions of human worth and dignity are all raised in the light of these new technologies. While perhaps all of the technologies are being championed as means to a better human end, many more cautious minds are expressing concerns about the potential for dehumanisation and a cavalier attitude toward life. Very real concerns about the state of personhood and the uniqueness of human life are engendered by the new biotech.
Clear ethical and social understanding of where the new technologies are taking us is thus the order of the day, and the editors of this book are well-suited to the task. They have both been at the forefront of ethical and theological reflection on the direction of the new biotech revolution. Charles Colson has long championed the need for a biblical worldview to assess where western society is heading, and Cameron is a leading bioethicist who has been dealing in these issues for quite some time now. His important volume The New Medicine, penned back in 1991, was one of the early wake-up calls as to where the new medical technologies were taking us.
In this volume we have twelve essays written by experts in the field, experts such as David Prentice, Richard Doerflinger, Wesley Smith and William Saunders.Read more ›
All of the essays are worth reading, but the ones I found most informative and helpful came from Nigel Cameron, C. Christopher Hook, David Prentice, William Saunders, and Page Comstock Cunningham. William Saunders essay was particularly valuable to me for the way in which he demonstrates how the arguments currently used to disenfranchise the human embryo and declare it less than a person are virtually identical to those used by the Nazis to declare certain classes of people "unfit" or less than persons. Hook deals with the issues surrounding "transhumanism" and the altering of the human body through technological modification. David Prentice addresses the question of what it means to be human and how this question is central to issues surrounding research using human embryonic stemcells. He discusses how the use of human embryos for research violates basic ethical norms for research done on human beings, and how there are ethical alternatives to using human embryos in research. Both Cameron and Cunningham deal with issues of strategy in publicly addressing bioethical matters and defending human dignity. Cameron's essay is particularly valuable for the way in which it addresses our current cultural climate and its relationship to bioethical issues, particularly relating to the culture of abortion.Read more ›