Thursday, June 09, 2011

Biotech Threat isn't Always Front Page News, But it is Real

The Brave New World is here and Christians need to wake up to the biotech threat to a Christian Worldview. Some voices have been warning us for some time. Will we hear them? The following is from Kairos Journal.

“Stealing God’s Stuff”—Mark O. Hatfield (1922 – )

During Mark Odom Hatfield’s last term in the United States Senate, a revolution took place in the field of biomedical research. For example, in 1990, the Human Genome Project set out to identify the body’s 20,000-25,000 genes and sequence the three billion chemical base pairs that comprise human DNA. In 2003 it succeeded. However, it was the successful cloning of a human embryo, through a process known as twinning,1 in 1993 that caused Hatfield to put pen to paper. Much has happened since then, but Hatfield’s two pronged message rings true today: First, just because science can do it, does not mean it should. Second, these ethical issues are too important for the Church to find herself silent.

It finally happened. Researchers at George Washington University successfully cloned human embryos last October [1993]. The experiment, the first of its kind to be reported, was intended to enhance current in-vitro fertilization methods.2 The result, however, has reinforced our greatest fears about biomedical research: It can—and will—do anything, regardless of moral or ethical questions . . .

Soon after the United States dropped the first atomic bomb, poet E. B. White wrote, “The quest for a substitute for God ended suddenly. The substitute turned up; and who do you suppose it was? It was man himself, stealing God’s stuff.” If the church remains silent on this issue, we may allow technology once again to steal God’s stuff . . .

Christian scholars and scientists must enter the dialogue in the large community . . . for decisions are already being made on the biomedical front. If the church is absent in the discussion, we should not be surprised at the way society begins to decide how to handle new developments in technology . . .

In Isaiah, we are asked, “Will the pot contend with the potter, or the earthenware with the hand that shapes it?” (Isa. 45:9, NEB). As creations of our Lord, we are contending with the Creator. While we may enhance our knowledge of the workings of the planet, we must develop an ethic to guide our actions in relation to it. As Christians, we put our society at risk when we do not claim a voice in the direction and progress of science.3


Twinning is the process whereby an embryo is divided into two embryos. This technique is distinct from somatic-cell nuclear transfer, which was the technology used to clone Dolly the sheep in Scotland.


See Kairos Journal article, "What Should Christians Think of IVF?"


Mark O. Hatfield, “Stealing God’s Stuff: Christians Must Help Bridge the Growing Gap between Biotechnology and Bioethics,” Christianity Today 38 (January 10, 1994): 16-17.

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