Talk

Christianity and the New Biotechnologies

Description

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) has opened the door to embryo experimentation, egg and sperm donation, surrogacy, embryo selection, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, embryonic cloning, animal human hybrids, mitochondrial replacement, and now, gene editing. Nanotechnology opens the possibility of ‘engineering’ minute biochemical systems at an atomic level. Cybernetics merges human tissue with mechanical or electrical devices in order to restore lost function or enhance human abilities. With retinal implants, cyborgs – part human, part machine – may be just around the corner. New drug treatments and enhancements are taking human performance to new levels, such as viagra to enhance sexual performance and modafanil to heighten concentration and memory. Humanoid Japanese robots can blink, smile, walk, talk, express anger, sing, and provide healthcare. Most of these socalled ‘advances’ have been justified on the grounds that they will prevent human suffering or lead to new treatments. What principles should we use to evaluate them from a Christian perspective?