Thursday, February 28, 2008
From the First Things blog, this by Ryan Anderson:
Benedict XVI recently asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to turn its attention to the ethical challenges that new biotechnologies pose. Aware that the Church “cannot and should not intervene on every scientific innovation,” the pope charged the congregation with “reiterating the great values at stake, and providing the faithful, and all men and women of good will, with ethical and moral principles and guidelines for these new and important questions.”
To help direct the congregation’s reflection, he offered two principles: “(a) unconditional respect for the human being as a person from conception to natural death; (b) respect for the originality of the transmission of human life through the acts proper to spouses.”
. . .
The Western tradition of moral reflection has produced a long line of reasoning about the fundamental worth of people and the immorality of direct killing. Battles over civil and human rights at home and abroad have taken up and developed the historical arguments about human dignity and equality. We have developed traditions of rationality about these questions—competing traditions, no doubt, but traditions of thought on these topics all the same.
So when debates about embryo freezing, manipulation, or killing arise, moral philosophers and theologians have rich resources for identifying the wrongs involved. It’s easy to speak to the public about all this. Start with the science that shows the humanity and individuality of the embryo, and then make philosophical arguments about the equality of all human beings as persons possessing inherent dignity. Finally, add the well-developed moral and legal prohibitions on directly killing innocent persons and you quickly arrive at the conclusion that killing human embryos is wrong.
In other words, religiously grounded thinkers make arguments about killing. They don’t simply pronounce, “God says it’s wrong.” As Benedict charged the CDF, they use arguments that can guide both the faithful “and all men and women of good will.”
With assisted reproductive technologies, things are different. . . .
Read the whole thing.