Changing Nature's Course: The Ethical Challenge of Biotechnology

By Gerhold K. Becker; James P. Buchanan | Go to book overview

Reflections on Method in Theology and
Genetics:

From Suspicion to Critical Cooperation

Anthony O. Dyson


Preface

Simplistic and heavily-loaded concepts of secularization in the sociology of religion, now many decades old, succeeded in distorting what should be recognized as the complex and pluriform relationships between scientific and theological theory. Furthermore, many women and men who claim not to profess a religious faith make the mistake of assuming that religious faith and theological theory stand in a one-to-one connection and that because the former is rejected, so the latter should be rejected too. Theology is, however, not a spontaneous utterance of religious faith. It involves instead the weaving together of aesthetic, psychological, philosophical, experiential, historical, scientific, existentialist and other strands of symbolic and narrative material. It employs a wide variety of forms of discourse. Theology is, furthermore, ambitious in striving to catch hold of that experience and meaning which is related to, but somehow tries to surpass, our own experience and meaning. Thus, theology is, at its best, a living and critical discipline whose principal task is to illuminate and strengthen human communities. At worst, theology mimics or evades the culture which it inhabits and petrifies the religion which it inherits. (The term 'theology' is not confined to Christian theology, but relates also to the other traditions, e.g. Buddhist, Jewish and Islamic theology. I write, however about the tradition which I know best.)

In the Introduction which follows, I present a case-study about the presence, and then the absence, of theological dimensions in the rise to prominence of bioethics in the United States over three decades. I shall then consider the accusation, made by some commentators, that the

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