Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Ethical Questions Posed....

I went to hear two of our professors talk about genetic engineering yesterday, in regards to changing behavior. The two professors represented religion, and biology. And the discussion crossed those disciplinary lines concerning sin, salvation and sanctification.

The discussion is not new to me, as my husband is a Bio-physist and we had been exposed to these discussions over 25 years ago at the University of Rochester during his post-doctoral experience.

The premise was that if behavior is determined to be genetic, such as alcoholism and certain mental disorders have been, then, the solution for "sin", salvation and sanctification would be to genetically correct the problem.

I have nothing against changing genes, per se. But, this opens up a "can of worms" for me concerning ethics. When is the genetic predisposition determined? at birth or when the behavior manifests itself? Or when families have this propensity? Who keeps the records, the State?

What is sin? How is it defined and by what authority? Will there be religious freedom if one believes in another type of authority, than societal? Is genetic "salvation" mandated by the State? the Chruch?

What is sanctification, then? Is it only behaving in a certain way, when the predisposition is there but the societal norm is prohibitive?

Is the determination of human genetic predisposition to be based upon any finding in the physical world, as it was argued that homosexual behavior among certain insects showed this tendency? If so, how does one keep from reducing man to the physical alone, i.e. reductionism?

I recognize that the Scriptures are written in an ancient context and it must be "transformed" in some way to have relavancy at large, but how do we protect religious freedom? Or should we look to ethics as a means to answer the questions concerning man in the face of scientific discovery, so that man is not reduced to his lowest denominator. And should we also limit the political realm of deeming a scientific "solution" mandated, thus, protecting religious conscience?

These are interesting questions that must be discussed by all of the disciplines, so that all voices that represent man, are heard and heard loudly, before any political determinants can be made...Science has always given "grief" to the Church, but it has also blessed man. We must understand how to use science, politics, and religion as a means of blessing. These areas are of most importance in today's climate of globalization.

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