Bioethics: people with a religious world view should raise their voices
BIO-ENGAGEMENT: Making a Christian Difference through Bioethics Today
Edited by Nigel de S. Cameron et al
(Eerdmans, 2000, 278pp, $44.00. Available from AD Books)
Bioethics is a new and burgeoning field, affecting all of us. Issues like human cloning, genetic engineering, assisted reproductive technologies, genetically modified foods and embryo research are just some of the contentious areas which are making an impact on so many of us. Therefore it is important that those with religious convictions bring their concerns to bear on the new and weighty issues being debated.
Too often such debates have been left to the scientists, medical professionals, politicians and even the corporations to sort through. And often these folk bring to bear a secular utilitarian world view on such issues. But these important matters should not be left for our politicians and scientists to decide upon. People with a religious world view very much need to raise their voices as well.
As Nigel Cameron states in his helpful introduction: "It is in bioethics, that point of intersection of the professions, the academy, and public policy, in which the dignity of the human being is constantly open to re-definition, and in which most of the best in our inheritance - medicine, science, the professional idea - is coming under withering fire from those whose values are radically distinct from the Judeo-Christian tradition.
"Our failure at the start of the new millennium to engage the culture in a degree which mirrors the size of our churches is distressing. Our failure in this realm of bioethics is particularly discouraging, since it is here that the assumptions of post-Christians are shaping their idea of what it is to be one of us. Conversely, our opportunity to make a difference at this point is immense."
That is why this volume is so important. It offers a much-needed corrective to the various dehumanising and market-driven approaches to the many debates in the life sciences. It offers a fresh restatement of the Biblical position which promotes the dignity and worth of every member of the human race.
In this book a number of experts look at a range of bioethics issues, but all from the Judeo-Christian point of view. All up, twenty medical, ethical, theological and scientific experts examine the many vexing moral issues which new developments in science and technology have produced.
These authorities deal with such topics as: fetal tissue research, in vitro fertilisation, stem cell research, health care issues, abortion, euthanasia, sex education, and many others. The emphasis is on applying a Biblical world view to these ethical and public policy debates.
The book does not just deal with specific ethics issues. It also provides chapters on Christian leadership in public policy, developing a Christian world view, mobilising churches to engage in the issues, and dealing with the media.
Some of the leading thinkers and writers in the field come together in this one volume: John Kilner, C. Ben Mitchell, Nigel Cameron, Francis Beckwith and Terry Schlossberg, among others. Their meaty chapters feature incisive comment on the perplexing ethical issues of our day, along with practical advice on how we all can make a contribution to the debate.
Thus this volume offers a fine collection of articles which are both timely and informative. The need has never been greater for a Biblical world view to challenge the secularists and utilitarians who have tended to dominate these debates. This volume is a welcome corrective to that imbalance.
Bill Muehlenberg is National Vice-President of the Australian Family Association