Biotechnology and Medical Ethics

Biotechnology and Medical Ethics: Thinking biblically about contemporary medicine
Allan J Day, April 2002



Allan John Day is Emeritus Professor (Physiology) University of Melbourne, Australia, a Senior Academic Fellow, Ridley College, Melbourne and a Fellow of ISCAST (Institue for the Study of Christianity in an Age of Science and Technology.


The rapid development of medical technology has created considerable ethical concern relating to the use of such technology. It is now possible to perform abortion for all sorts of reasons, to produce babies from all sorts of parents, to ensure survival for all sorts of humans and by genetic engineering and cloning to design all sorts of children. Such possibilities - what we are able to do - raise ethical questions of what we ought to do. In seeking to explore this problem, some biblical principles are outlined. They relate to those derived from our common humanity (creation theology), to those associated with our living as a community (covenant theology), and to those that call for justice distributed and care for the disadvantaged (Old Testament Prophets) as well as those derived from the New Testament ethic of care and compassion. In applying these principles however it is not always easy to get clear cut answers and many questions remain. One of the most cogent is the question of whether the embryo is fully human - a person, and what criteria determine such humanity. Some of these questions, on which Christians and others disagree are considered and some basis suggested for arising at satisfactory conclusions.

Key words

Ethics, abortion, cloning, stem cells, embryo, human, humanity, technology, genetic, IVF, creation theology, person.

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