Human genome editing and the image of God

(Christy Hemphill) #1

This article on CRISPR and the theological implications of the developing capacity to edit human genes in embryos was just posted on CT. What better place to discuss the questions it raises than here?

[quote]We start here to build an ethic of humanity’s treatment while pursuing scientific progress. Time and again, we’ve seen people’s failure to recognize the full humanity of others used as a pretense to enslave, imprison, torture, eradicate, segregate, or simply discard image bearers whom they have defined as less than human.

This is what Baldanza and I told a crowd of scientists, biotech industry executives, policymakers, educators, and artists when asked by Wu to give our perspective at an industry forum at Harvard. We concluded by posing a question: Is a particular technology a means of “subduing the earth,” bringing order where there is chaos—or does it run the risk of dehumanization?

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and a Christian, worries about the risk of the latter, asking on the medical news website STAT whether “the application of germline manipulation would change our view of the value of human life. If genomes are being altered to suit parents’ preferences, do children become more like commodities than precious gifts?”
Where is the line between healing and enhancement?
Yet, if we need not avoid suffering in our lives, when does an ethic of Christian charity seek to alleviate suffering as gene editing promises? [/quote]

(Christy Hemphill) #2

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