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The importance of realism in assessing technological possibilities: The role of Christian thinking

The importance of realism in assessing technological possibilities: The role of Christian thinking
Gareth Jones, June 2013.

                                                                          

 

Author

Gareth Jones, Emeritus Professor, Bioethics and Department of Anatomy, University of Otago. He served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor over the years 2005-2009, and Director of the Bioethics Centre 2010-2012.

Abstract

Speculation is rife in bioethical debate. Transhumanism imagines a form of salvation in which, through technology, humans are less subject to the whims of nature, including disease and temperature extremes. The use of chemicals to achieve moral bioenhancement is also speculative, but is an extension of the use or abuse of drugs for cognitive enhancement that already occurs. Reproductive technology is currently available, and permits selection of embryos without the gene for conditions such as Huntington’s disease, Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy and haemophilia, but this fits within the paradigm of disease prevention and treatment.

The degrees of speculation and realism in these cases raise questions of relevance for Christian thinking. Firstly, our earthly goal is holy living, and salvation is in Christ not through the application of technology. Nevertheless, care and cure are in tension with mortality and evil. To find the way through, humility is called for as a cardinal virtue and also the guiding principle in our approach to science and technology.

Key words

Bioethics, moral bioenhancement, artificial reproductive technology, mortality, humility, redemption
 

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