A Reformed Christian Bioethical Response to Genetic Modification for Therapeutic use and Human Enhancement
Humans are creative beings who constantly endeavor to improve and overcome limitations and challenges. The last century saw an unprecedented number of technological advancements across all areas of life including biotechnology. Through biotechnological advancements humanity can edit and modify the building blocks of life, which provides the ability not only to heal genetic diseases but have the potential to enhance humanity. Prevention of disease can be achieved through gene editing, but this opens the door to germline gene editing, which in turn can lead to human enhancement. Human enhancement is not necessarily negative, but it carries an existential risk. The recent advancements in the form of gene editing tools such as CRISPR cas9 and gene sequencing makes it possible to edit genes in a short time frame. Although advancements are progressing at a staggering rate, ethical discussions relating to the use or abuse of the technology are lagging behind. This is especially true when it comes to Christian bioethics. Discussions around transhumanism and posthumanism is essential, especially from the Christian perspective. A clear gap exists between Christian bioethical views and secular ethical views. The main reason for this is the differing perspectives on human dignity. Secular bioethicists are of the opinion that human dignity should not form part of bioethical debates as it slows down the adoption of technology. From a Christian bioethical perspective, human dignity is at the core of the debate due to the belief that humanity was created in the image of God. The concept of Imago Dei or created in the image of God is at the forefront of the Christian bioethical debate. Although there are many interpretations of Imago Dei, “Imago Dei as human identity” provides a holistic foundation for Christian bioethicists to work from. Viewing bioethical challenges from this perspective can provide guidance relating to challenging questions on human dignity, human rights, eugenics, and the use of the technology for therapeutic use and human enhancement.
- Theology