New Article: Contemplating Cloning: Ethics in an Era of Biotechnology

Today’s new article is republished from Evangelicals by our Board Chair, Jeff Hardin.

As Christians, how should we approach advances in biotechnology? How can the Bible speak into these issues of the 21st century? How should we engage in these conversations?

Excellent article outlining the issues we are soon to face or facing already. To me, these questions are more difficult to deal with that evolution from a theological viewpoint, as they impact who we are as humans. Evolution merely addresses the mechanism by which we came to be.

We now have clinics advertising stem cell therapy for various conditions, using auto genius mesenchymal stem cells and having good success at harvesting dollars (though very doubtful success in actual beneficial treatment). It is not that much of a stretch to see fetal tissues grown for harvest for implants in the near future. Only problem may be the lag time: it might be tough to grow a new heart if you need one next week!

So where do we draw the line ethically? Good question. I don’t see the Bible answering questions like these directly as it was written at such a time that only the basics of reproduction were known, and with some misconceptions of those. Hopefully, we can learn Biblical wisdom to apply to a changing world.

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Hi Phil,
Sorry to be slow here! I agree that the Bible knows nothing about preimplantation blastocysts or many other topics in this area, so we have to argue from more general principles. I would layer onto that when we are in doubt, caution is the better course. That’s for two reasons. First, I think for me a key distinctive Christian thinking brings to the table is the notion of universal human sinfulness. Much of the public discussion is carried out by those with what I call a “Star Trek” view of the world: the notion that humans will usually do the right thing with technology, leading to universal human flourishing. While It think the Bible clearly provides a stewardship mandate for humans as God’s image-bearers, it also tempers any notion that technology has salvific properties á la Start Trek. Second, the notion that human organisms are image-bearers, and our limitations in making inferences from the biology alone also constrain how we should think about their intentional destruction at the earliest stages. I realize other Christians will disagree, but I hope BioLogos can foster thoughtful discussions about these topics. You’re absolutely right that most clients in clinics simply don’t have the background to address these complex issues, and that’s where basic biologists like me need to edge out into public discourse to help the church wrestle with these issues.

Indeed, thank you for your contribution. The general topic of medical ethics could use expanding in the forum, as the question of if we should do something becomes more important than if we can.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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