Moral and Ethical Issues in Gene Therapy Essay

5768 Words Feb 6th, 2013 24 Pages
Moral and Ethical Issues in Gene Therapy
Genetic research has advanced in a dramatic fashion in the last decade or so, to the point where it has now become possible to attempt therapeutic genetic modification, in a few cases of human genes, where a defects exists which manifests itself in certain serious diseases. This possibility, known as gene therapy, is only in its infancy. At present, no one knows how effective it will prove to be, even in the few conditions on which it is being tried - whether it will only be of relatively limited application, or whether it will open up many wider possibilities. It suffers both over-optimistic claims from some quarters and exaggerated dangers from others, over which the church needs to
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If science is therefore a proper human activity, reflecting in some small part God’s own wisdom and creativity, and if technology is today its practical application, then it seems arbitrary to draw a line at the level of genetics, rather than, say, chemistry, nuclear physics or metallurgy, or at the level of gene therapy rather than pharmacology, radiation therapy or surgery. Some would go further and say that as a matter of very principle, technology can and must never be limited, as an expression of “the human spirit”, or in more Christian terminology, as the expression of the openness of God’s gift of human creativity. I would argue that Scripture, history and prudence all indicate the need to limit our creativity - that “can” does not imply “ought”. Key concepts within which to frame a biblical view in this area are the nature of human being, and the constraints on what is permissible in the context of relationship.

What is a Human Being?
In a biblical view, the human being is a complex unity, a whole entity more than the sum of such subdivisions as “body, mind and spirit”. In Genesis, men and women are described in three illuminating ways. We are “dust” in the sense of being made of the same stuff as the rest of creation; today we might speak in molecular terms, but the meaning is the same. Yet we are more than dust - we have the breath

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