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"Todayís public talk about moral values is usually framed in terms of a search for a moral consensus that is no longer self-evident ndeed that to many people is not evident at all. 

The search for a moral consensus based on a common human nature has, for some time now, replaced the social function of religious belief, which was long thought to be the indispensable foundation of social peace. 

For most of history, unity of religion was deemed essential to the unity of society and culture. 

That assumption was shattered in the religious wars in Europe of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

As a consequence of the wars of religion, precisely the opposite conclusion was drawn: Social peace requires that religious beliefs, and disagreements over religious beliefs, be determinedly disregarded.

 Although established religion continued for some time in most of Europe, religion no longer served its earlier function." --
W. Pannenberg

"...Christian morality is based on the idea that human beings are made in the image of God and are therefore are of infrinite value, and this informs all Christian ethical thinking." -
Rodney Holder 2011

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Current Ethical Issues in Science

apothThe last several decades have seen a rapid increase of scientific knowledge in areas which have wide-ranging ethical implications - most prominently in the  biosciences, the environment and medicine. There is intense discussion both within and without the Christian community on points of contention - in many cases the question now turns more on should we rather than the traditional can we

At the same time one's personal ethics are being challenged in increasing measure.  This topic often receives front page coverage as yet again another scientist is charged with fraud.  Walter Hearn has ably dealt with day-to-day questions in his Being a Christian in Science (InterVarsity, 1997) . For Walt:

Christian behavior is rooted in biblical precepts and in loyalty to Jesus Christ. We need not apologize for bringing those precepts with us into scientific work . (p. 40) 

Try this short video: Atheism and morality  which answers the question:  Can atheism provide grounds for morality?   (8 min.)

An Essay from God and Nature:

Infinity’s Holding Cell

Hundreds of years ago, under cover of darkness. Shrouded in secrecy. Breaking the law.

This is what human biological science used to look like. Once upon a time, seekers of knowledge in the natural world (Leonardo Da Vinci among them) risked their careers and lives digging up cadavers to peek inside them and try to discern how the human body functions. At the time, this act was seen as a violation of human dignity, immoral, and, of course, illegal.

That was then. This is now: biologists are once again caught in a moral dilemma that threatens their science and puts them under constant legal crossfire. While the dissection of a dead, thus de-souled, human body is no longer viewed as a scientific travesty, the disassembly of human embryos has for years been generating enormous controversy for researchers, politicians, and the public.

In 2001, President Bush signed a law restricting the use of federal funding for embryonic stem cell (ESC) research to cell lines that had already been extracted from unwanted IVF (in vitro fertilization) embryos in fertility clinics. In March 2009, President Obama issued an order destrictifying Bush’s policy so that new embryo lines could be opened up to researchers. But in August 2010, a federal judge made a preliminary ruling against the more lenient policy in court, citing a 1996 ban on federal funding for any project that destroys human embryos. And this May, a federal appeals panel overturned the judge’s temporary injunction restricting federal funds from being used while the judge makes a final ruling.... more


Roman J. Miller, "When Fraud Knocks on the Door" PSCF 58 (March 2006): 1. Thoughts of a Teacher/editor

Wolfhart Pannenberg's "When Everything is Permitted" Argues the need for "Christian ethics." 

Ethical Method in Christian Bioethics: Mapping the Terrain  Offers an "analysis of patterns of ethical methodology among Christians weighing in on contemporary debates."

Bioethical and especially biotechnologica developments are both so urgent and have come so quickly upon us that there has been little time for Christian bioethicists to reflect upon or develop a coherent methodological approach. However, our answers to particular questions e.g., what should we think and say about nanotechnology or germ-line genetic intervention or cryopreservation or any other issueódemand reflection on a prior methodological question: How should a Christian go about discerning a reliable answer to such ethical questions? I would here like to offer a very preliminary analysis of patterns of ethical methodology among Christians weighing in on contemporary biotechnology debates.

Values and Science Research ñ what is Science for?  A Faraday Institute Lecture 2007 Prof. Tom McLeish MP3 file (27.7Mb)  
(45 min + discussion)

Note: The views represented on this page do not represent the official position of the American Scientific Affiliation.

Current Issues



 Claus Jacob & Adam Walters*  "Risk and Responsibility in Chemical Research The Case of Agent Orange," HYLE--International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, Vol. 11, No.2 (2005)

Computer Science

J. Barry DeRoos,  Ethics in Computer Science

Excessive Consumption

Swearengen, Jack & Woodhouse, Edward, "Overconsumption: An Ethical Dilemma for Christian Engineers," PSCF 54 (June2002): 80


Kurt M. Pickett, John W. Wenzel, Stephen W. Rissing, "Iconoclasts of Evolution: Haekel, Behe, Wells & the Ontogeny of a Fraud,", The American Biology Teacher  67 (May 2005): 275-282. 

Rodney L. Bassett, David Basinger, and Paul Livermore, "Lying in the Laboratory: Deception in Human Research from Psychological, Philosophical, and Theological Perspectives," JASA, 33 (December 1982): 201-212.   

Brian E. Porter and Steve VanderVeen,  "Does Being Honest Pay? An Empirical Study," Christian Scholars Review XXVIII (Number 3 1999): 452-465.

Thomas D. Pearson,"Ethics in the Workplace: What Should the Christian Do?" PSCF 50 (June 1998): 85.

Stephen K.  Moroney, "How Sin Affects Scholarship," Christian Scholars Review XXVIII (Number 3 1999): 432-451.

Genetic Engineering

"Promise of genomics research needs a realistic view" by a UNC Panel  CHAPEL HILL, N.C. the ten years since the human genetic code was mapped, expectations among scientists, health care industry, policy makers, and the public have remained high concerning the promise of genomics research for improving health.  But a new commentary by four internationally prominent genetic medicine and bioethics experts cautions against the dangers of inflated expectations – an unsustainable genomic bubble  – and it offers ways to avoid it while still realizing “the true – and considerable – promise of the genomic revolution.”  

Prof. John Bryant . "Ethical Issues in Genetic Modification," Faraday Paper #7  (PDF)

This paper surveys the origins and present applications of the Genetic Modification of plants,animals and humans. The ethical concerns raised from both secular and religious sources areconsidered. It is concluded that humankind has been delegated responsible stewardship for all the earth’s resources, including DNA, and that there are strong theological motivations for using Genetic Modification wisely and for the benefit of others.--A Faraday Institute Paper

J. Bruce McCallum, "Evolving Concepts of Nature and Human Genetic Engineering," PSCF 58 (September 2006): 171-178.

D. Gareth Jones, "Genetic Prospects: Finding a Balance Between Choice and Acceptance." PSCF 57 (September 2005): 202-211.

D. Gareth Jones, "Biomedical Manipulation: Arguing the Case for a Cautiously Optimistic Stance," PSCF 54 (June 2002).

Leon R.  Kass,  "The Age of Genetic Technology Arrives," Leon R. Kass, M.D. is professor in social thought at the University of Chicago, Hertog fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics. Excerpted from Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity. Published by Encounter Books, San Francisco, October 2002. Reprinted with permission by The American Spectator, November/December 2002.

Medical Practice

Dr. Everett Koop: "Christian Ethics in the Workplace" youtube 6 min

James J. Rusthoven,  "Understanding Medical Relationships through a Covenantal Ethical Perspective," PSCF 62 (March 2010): 3-15. PDF Relationships between different parties form the core of medical practice. Increasing attention has focused on the possible merits of understanding such relationships as covenantal in nature. Some advocates of a covenant ethic have focused on promise and fidelity as the defining features of this relationship. However, historical and/or metaphysical justification for prescribing a covenantal model varies, with some appealing to the ancient Greek medical tradition while others claim authority in the biblical revelation of covenant initially established by God with humankind. In contemporary medicine, reliance on rational identification of a common morality without appeal to transcendent authority has become a dominant paradigm of medical ethics. The basis for envisioning a biblical covenant ethic for clinical relationships has a firm foundation in Reformed theology, which has developed the concept of covenant as a central theme. Such an ethic provides a transcendent grounding that is absent from a common morality based on reason alone that dominates much of bioethical thought. The patient-supporter relationship is presented as an integral part of medical practice that can be understood through a biblical covenant ethic as fidelity between a person or community and the vulnerable patient, grounded in the agape love of God for humankind.

A TANGLED WEB: Medicine and Theology in Dialogue by R. John Elford and D. Gareth Jones, eds. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2008. 279 pages ASA Review

SPIRITUAL DIMENSIONS OF NURSING PRACTICE by Verna Benner Carson and Harold G. Koenig, eds. 2d ed. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Foundation Press, 2008. 403 pages. ASA Review

The Christian Medical and Dental Society provides position papers on many issues in medical and dental practice. 

Dennis M. Sullivan, "The Oral Conceptive as Abortifacient: An Analysis of the Evidence," PSCF 58 (September 2006): 189-195.

Hessel Bouma III, "Challenges and Lessons from The Teri Schiavo Case ," PSCF 57 (September 2005): 212-220.

John H. Woodburn, "Life, the Ultimate Challenge," PSCF 57 (June 2005): 126-127.

Lawrence R. Huntoon,  "Editorial: Modern Bioethics," Journal of the American Physicians and Surgeons - Vol. 10 No. 4 Dec. 2005.

James J. Rusthoven, "Current Concepts of Capacity and Autonimy in Medical Decision-Making: A Critique from a Christian Perspective," PSCF 57 (December 2005): 311-317. 

Robert Trundle and Robert Vossmeyer, "Sex Revolution and Psychosexual Disorder: A Historical Perspective on the Delusion of Medical Neutrality," Aquinas 47, No. 1 (2004) Used by permission

Jay L. Holman, "The Future of Medical Science: Ethical and Theological Implications, Part I," PSCF 46 (December 1994): 220-229.

Jay L. Holman, "The Future of Medical Science: Ethical and Theological Implications, Part II," PSCF 47 (March 1995): 23-31.

D. Gareth Jones, "The Human Cadaver: An Assessment of the Value We Place on the Human Body,PSCF 47 (March 1995): 43-51.

D. Gareth Jones, "Contemporary Medical Scandals: A Challenge to Ethical Codes and Ethical Principles," PSCF 42 (March 1990): 2-14.

C. Gordon Winter, What is Life(1996)


 Prof. Gareth Jones: 'Genetics, plasticity and personhood: the brain in the 21st century' MP3. AUDIO

William Polk Cheshire, With All Your Mind: Implications of Functional Neuro-imaging for Ethics Audio| A talk from the ASA/CIS Edinburgh Meeting 2007

Stem Cell Research

Man receives world's first synthetic windpipe


A trachea-shaped polymer has been coated with a patient's stem cells then successfully transplanted, opening the way to many other "synthetic" organs...
New Scientist
Full Story


The Biology of Stem Cells (Proquest) An overview.

Editorial Nature 450, 457-458 (22 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/450457b; Published online 21 November 2007 Replicator review: Nature has implemented a peer-review policy for strong claims.
The transfer of a nucleus from a somatic cell of one organism into an enucleated germ cell of another for therapeutic or reproductive cloning is now well-established in many species, but has proved notoriously difficult to do in primates. Indeed some experts have concluded that it simply couldn't be done. Woo Suk Hwang's high-profile paper reporting that it had worked in human cells turned out to be fraudulent, making the goal seem even more elusive

Injections of these cells, which have the special ability to transform into any other cells, have been paraded as the panacea for diseases, from Parkinson's to diabetes. And recent advances, such as clinical trials where heart attack patients are to be injected with stem cells or research showing their possible ability to restore the sight of blind mice, suggest this hope could be becoming a reality. But is this really the case? We are at the stage where some stem cell research is moving from animal models towards the clinic, says Professor Anne McLaren, a developmental biologist from Cambridge University. But while there has been much progress, there has also been a lot of hype, she adds... Full Story  BBCNews 

Celia Dean-Drummond, "A Recovery of Wisdom As Virtue for an Ethics of Genetics," PSCF 59 (March 2007): 19.

William R. Hurlbutt, " Framing the Future: Embryonic Stem Cells, Ethics and theStem Cell 1Emerging Era of Developmental Biology," 59: 4, Pt. 2, 2006 Used by permission 

Skin derived precursor cells. (photo courtesy Freda Miller)


Robert A. Boomsma,  "Embryonic Stem Cells and a Reformed Christian World View," PSCF 56.1:38-48 (3/2004).

Adrian Teo and Donald Calbreath, "Embryonic Stem Cells and a Reformed Christian World View: A response to Robert Boomsma"," PSCF 58 (September 2006):179-188.

Cathleen and Paul Shrier, "Human Embronic Stem Cell Research and Christian Community Ethics: An Old Testament Investigation," PSCF 58 (March 2006): 37-47.

Krystin A. Mannoia, "An Evaluation of Three Religious Approaches to Stem Cell Research," PSCF  56.1:216-225 (9/2004) 

Karen Lebacqz, "Pandemic Justice," PSCF 59 (March 2007): 10.

David P. Gushee, "Ethical Method in Christian Bioethics: Mapping the Terrain",,  The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity (2003)

Carson, Joseph P., " "Should ASA Defend and Advance Professional Ethics in Science and Technology Professions?," PSCF 54 (June 2002): 124.

Catherine H. Crouch, " Scientific Ethics: A Realm for Partnership," PSCF 52 (September 2000): 156-58.

Malcolm Jeeves, Psychologising about God and ReligionLecture delivered in the Winstanley Lecture Theatre, Trinity College, Cambridge on Tuesday, 28th November 2000.

Martin LeBar, "A World is Not Made to Last Forever: The Bioethics of C. S. Lewis, JASA 35 (June 1983): 104-107.

George Murphy, "Chiasmic Cosmology as the Context for Bioethics, PSCF 42 (June 1990): 94-99.

George Murphy, "Science and Martyrdom," PSCF 41 (March 1989): 33-35.


On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research: Third Edition  The scientific enterprise is built on a foundation of trust. Society
trusts that scientific research results are an honest and accurate reflection of a researcher’s work. Researchers equally trust that their colleagues have gathered data carefully, have used appropriate analytic and statistical techniques, have reported their results accurately, and have treated the work of other researchers with respect. When this trust is misplaced and the professional standards of science are
violated, researchers are not just personally affronted—they feel that the base of their profession has been undermined.

ebook: Living Under God's Law - Christian Ethics (PDF Download)

ebook:The Government of the Tongue - Ethics, Richard Allestree (PDF Download)

SACRED CELLS? Why Christians Should Support Stem Cell Research by Ted Peters, Karen Lebacqz, and Gaymon Bennett. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2008. 272 pages.  ASA Review

H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr., Foundations of Christian Bioethics, Exton, PA, Swets & Zeitlinger, 2000 

Book: GTP

John Frederic Kilner (Editor), et al  Cutting-Edge Bioethics: A Christian Exploration of Technologies and Trends (Horizon in Bioethics Series Book)  (Paperback - March 2002)

Edwin C. Hui, At the Beginning of Life: Dilemmas in Theological Bioethics (Christian Classics Bible Studies) InterVarsity Press (October 2002).

D. P. Gushee and G. H. Stassen, Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2003).

James Peterson, Genetic Turning Points: The Ethics of Human Genetic Intervention, Eerdmans, 2001

Web Sites

Religion and Ethics Newsletter (PBS)

Bioethics Centres

Loma Linda University Center for Christian Bioethicsics Issues of Life: Bioethics and medical links
Christian Medical and Dental Society

Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship of Australia Inc (CMDFA)

CMF Ethics  CMF produces literature addressing a wide range of ethical issues from a Christian perspective.  


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Last Entry: 5/15/2015/2011