Academic journal article Issues in Law & Medicine

Commentary On: The Person, the Soul and Genetic Engineering

Academic journal article Issues in Law & Medicine

Commentary On: The Person, the Soul and Genetic Engineering

Article excerpt

J. H. Brooke, Commentary on: The Person, the Soul and Genetic Engineering, 30 J. MED. ETHICS 597 (2004).

The far reaching effects of the genetic revolution on our lives as a whole make it difficult to separate the secular and sacred issues involved. There is a significant division between those who would see religious beliefs as irrelevant in the ethical debates concerning new biotechnologies and those who, with Dr. Polkinghorne, are willing to look to the major faith traditions for insight into the nature of human identity and selfhood. In secular discourse, the intrusion of religious language has long been resisted on many grounds: that sound ethical principles do not need transcendent ratification; that those who presume a privileged moral discernment derived from their religion frequently fail to appreciate the complexity of genetic and medical science; and that internecine disputes within faith communities and historically rooted incommensurabilities between them seriously compromise any prospect of consensus. This problem is tacitly acknowledged by Dr. Polkinghorne himself when he notes that this willingness to accept the 14 day threshold before which certain forms of experimentation on embryos are deemed permissible would not be congenial to Roman Catholic officials, for whom the destruction of one life cannot be condoned even if it were to make possible the creation of another. …

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