Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Beyond Biotechnology ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Beyond Biotechnology ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

The President's Council on Bioethics released a groundbreaking report on Oct. 15 on the difficulties that lie ahead in the "golden age" of biotechnology ( "Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness" focuses on what's at stake ethically and socially when the uses of biotechnology go beyond therapy to the pursuit of personal enhancement and happiness.

The study noted some disquieting trends: society's increasing desire for human perfectibility - attaining a brighter mood or a keener mind; boosting muscle strength; extending endurance; or engineering a younger, more beautiful body - through technological means. It warned of the "dangers lurking in the drift toward greater medicalization" of our lives, a tendency to see ourselves in only material and mechanistic terms.

In light of this emerging picture of medicalization and the satisfying of human desires through biotechnology, there is a crucial need for greater awareness and deeper reflection, the authors say. They call for rethinking our basic priorities and asking "just what it is that gives life its significance."

We all want to be happy, healthy, and active, of course. We all want our lives to have purpose, meaning, and value. But how do we get there? Is biotechnology the pathway to an improved life, or is there a better path?

As the council's report indicates, there is too much at stake for society simply to plunge ahead with a limited perspective and against the intuitive doubts that many people feel.

If we take the building blocks of life at face value - basing all our assumptions and strategies for the future on what the physical senses and technology report - then the "significance" of life ultimately boils down to some form of matter. Based on the assumption that we are complex neurobiological creatures, biotechnology logically becomes the tool of choice for therapy, enhancement, and everything beyond.

But there is another perspective, one that involves a significant paradigm shift. Some say it's a shift whose time has come.

Over a century ago, the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, was arguing for a higher, more far-reaching vision. …

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