Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Biotechnology Raises Unavoidable Theological Questions

“When science moves faster than moral understanding, as it does today, men and women struggle to articulate their unease. In liberal societies, they reach first for the language of autonomy, fairness, and individual rights. But this part of our moral vocabulary does not equip us to address the hardest questions posed by cloning, designer children, and genetic engineering. That is why the genomic revolution has induced a kind of moral vertigo. To grapple with the ethics of enhancement, we need to confront questions largely lost from view in the modern world- questions about the moral status of nature, and about the proper stance of human beings toward the given world. Since these questions verge on theology, modern philosophers and political theorists tend to shrink from them. But our new powers of biotechnology make them unavoidable…It is commonly said that enhancement, cloning and genetic engineering pose a threat to human dignity. This is true enough. But the challenge is to say how these practices diminish our humanity. What aspects of human freedom or human flourishing do they threaten?” –Michael Sandel, The Case Against Perfection, p. 9, 24.

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