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A Christian View of Bio-Ethics – Part I

We are entering what some have called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Part of this revolution is the field of biomedical technology and engineering, where technological advancements are outpacing ethical reflection on their appropriateness. Among the many biomedical technologies developing are:

* Robotic replacement organs/ neurologically-driven artificial body-parts * Augmented Reality & wearables * Organ harvesting/ transplants/ Regrown organs/ 3D Printed organs *Stem-Cell Research * Cloning *CRISPR DNA editing, Gene splicing/ sex selection/ Gene therapy *Cryonics/ Longevity Technologies/ Transhumanism.

 

A Biblical Versus Secular View of Medicine and Healing

1. Humans are creatures made by special creation by a Creator, the Triune God. This God is sovereign over life and death (Job 1:21, Deut 32:39). By contrast, secular humanism insists that mankind is sovereign over life, having the authority to begin life, end it, or manipulate it at will. We have the authority to correct the effects of the curse, not to attempt to create new life on our own. Correcting imperfect humans is one thing, creating perfect humans of our own is another.

2. Being made in God’s image, human life has both dignity and sanctity. Being reflections of God, murder, and even cursing is forbidden (Gen 9:6. Jas 3:9). This image includes the body which is to be cared for. While dignity calls for respect, sanctity calls for reverence. Human life is holy in the sense that it is God’s direct creation (Ps 8:5). Secular humanism does not hold these principles, it focuses almost entirely on quality of life. This quality of life is simply utilitarianism: whatever tools will lead to a ‘happier’ outcome are justified. But how is this quality judged? Is I physical, social, spiritual or a combination? Who gets to decide – the patient, doctor, or society? Who gets this quality – do we distinguish between age, race, wealth? And who knows what will bring about this quality of life?

 

3. Human life is mortal (Rom 5:12, Heb 9:27). Death is a judgement, not merely something ‘natural’. Human attempts to altogether avoid morality are futile and misdirected.

4. Human life can be repaired, maintained, or improved, in cooperation with God’s order, and in conformity to it. By contrast, secular humanism believes we have a duty to create a superior race. Believing in Darwinian evolution, they believe we will artificially engineer the next ‘leaps’ in evolution through technology. This is the opposite of repairing, maintaining and improving – it is re-creating, engineering life through control and domination of nature. Furthermore, many of them believe this needs to be compulsory, and not voluntary, sterilising the ‘weak’, aborting children with Down’s Syndrome, eliminating those with a predisposition for disease or disability.

 

       I. Biblical Worldview:                      Serving God II. Secular Worldview: Playing God
    God is sovereign

Treatment must be voluntary

Improve human life

Repair human life

Maintain human life

Cooperate with creation

Conform to creation

Sanctity of life is the key                 principle

Ends do not justify means

Man is sovereign

Treatment can be compulsory

Create human life

Re-create human life

Engineer life

Control creation

Dominate creation

Quality of life is the key principle

The ends justify the means

5. The goal of medicine is to serve God and love man, not to rebel against God in Babel-like independence. With no submission to a created order, bio-medical technology quickly becomes nightmarish.

6. Secular humanism operates on several ethical principles that the Bible forbids: The ends justify the means (if aborted babies can provide organs or stem cells to treat patients – then it justifies aborting them). If it can be done, it should be done. If it becomes possible to link everyone’s eyes to a recording camera and upload it to the web, it should be done. If it is being done, it should be done. Since cloning is a reality, if a country wishes to clone an athlete 100 000 times over to make an army, it should be done. Scripture forbids pure pragmatism, utilitarianism, or the logical fallacies of is-ought.

 

  – David De Bruyn, Professor of Church History, Shepherds’ Seminary Africa

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