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A Place to Start...



Bioethics: A Christian Approach in a Pluralistic Age

by Scott B. Rae and Paul M. Cox

William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999

An excellent introduction that discusses various approaches to bioethics and sets forth the essentials of a distinctively Christian ethic.  It concludes by considering the role of Christian bioethics in a pluralistic, postmodern culture.


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Bioethics General



Culture of Death:  The Assault on Medical Ethics

by Wesley J. Smith

Encounter Books, 2002


An outstanding introduction to many of the issues being debated in bioethics today:  the withholding of life-sustaining measures (like food and water), euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, health care rationing, and organ donation.  Smith, an attorney, presents a compelling case (based on a “human rights” argument) that something has gone terribly wrong in American medicine.  The “do no harm” ethic of the Hippocratic tradition has been abandoned.



Human Dignity in the Biotech Century:  A Christian Vision for Public Policy

by Charles W. Colson and Nigel M. de S. Cameron, editors

InterVarsity Press, 2004


From the Introduction:  Just as most Christians were asleep thirty years ago when Roe v. Wade was decided and abortion on demand became legal, we are again in danger of sleeping through another moral catastrophe.  With the latest advances in biotechnology, not only are we taking upon ourselves the god-like prerogative of ending human life as we choose (as we have done with abortion and euthanasia), but we are attempting to appropriate the god-like  prerogative of making human life as we choose.  The most profound question we are being asked today is which is the more grievous sin against God--to take life created in his image or to make life created in man's image?"  Using both Christian and public arguments, the twelve authors address a wide range of issues that threaten to undermine human dignity in the Bioetech Century:  cloning, genetic engineering, embryo research, cybernetics, stem cell research, nanotechnology, gene therapy, abortion, and numerous others.



Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity

by Leon Kass

Encounter Books, 2002


Kass’s commitment to understanding and safeguarding human dignity has produced some of the most profound thinking about how biotechnology is changing our way of life.  This volume, a collection of some of his most significant essays, covers a wide range of issues, including cloning, genetic engineering, the sale of human body parts, and euthanasia.


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Bioethics Theology & Philosophy



The Abolition of Man

by C. S. Lewis

HarperSanFrancisco, 2001


Written in 1943, this slim volume has earned for C. S. Lewis a title that he would not have chosen for himself—prophet.  And it has made him a significant player in the current bioethics debates.  In light of the promises and the perils of the new biotechnologies, Lewis’ warning is increasingly relevant:  “…the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means…the power of some men to make other men what they please.”




At the Beginning of Life:  Dilemmas in Theological Bioethics

by Edwin C. Hui

InterVarsity Press, 2002


One of the best in-depth treatments of the medical, theological, and ethical issues surrounding new reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, cloning, and embryo manipulation.  Hui presents a Christian view of the person and evaluates the issues in this light.  The book is not an easy read but worth the effort; it applies the theological and philosophical concepts in very practical ways.  Also a great reference volume.


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Biotechnology Trends



Rapture:  How Biotech Became the New Religion

by Brian Alexander

Basic Books, 2003


“How fringe ideas become mainstream” could have been the subtitle of this book.  A number of mainstream scientists are joining with transhumanists, Extropians, and others formerly relegated to the futuristic fringe to pursue a vision which has the trappings of a new religion.  In this “biotech religion,” science is savior, and salvation is deliverance from aging, death, disease, and other human “limitations.”


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Cloning and Stem Cell Research



A Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World

by Wesley J. Smith

Encounter Books, 2004


From the Endorsements:Cloning researchers claim to have cloned an embryo that is mostly human, but also part animal. Biotech companies brag about manufacturing human embryos as ‘products’ for use in medical treatments. Echoing long discredited master-race thinking, James Watson, who won a Nobel Prize for co-discovering the DNA double helix, claims that genetically enhanced people will someday ‘dominate the world.’


‘A Consumer’s Guide to Brave New World’ presents a clear-eyed vision of two potential futures. In one we will use biotechnology as a powerful tool to treat disease and improve the quality of our lives. But in another, darker scenario, we will be steered onto the anti-human path Aldous Huxley and other prophetic writers first warned against fifty years ago when science fiction had not yet become science fact.


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From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany

by Richard Weikart

Palgrave Macmillan, 2004


Publishers description:  In this work Richard Weikart explains the revolutionary impact Darwinism had on ethics and morality. He demonstrates that many leading Darwinian biologists and social thinkers in Germany believed that Darwinism overturned traditional Judeo-Christian and Enlightenment ethics, especially the view that human life is sacred. Many of these thinkers supported moral relativism, yet simultaneously exalted evolutionary fitness (especially intelligence and health) to the highest arbiter of morality. Darwinism played a key role in the rise not only of eugenics, but also euthanasia, infanticide, abortion, and racial extermination. This was especially important in Germany, since Hitler built his view of ethics on Darwinian principles, not on nihilism.



Preaching Eugenics:  Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement

by Christine Rosen

Oxford University Press, 2004


The resurgence of eugenic practice, in conjunction with genetic screening, makes this a timely book!  Rosen chronicles how theological liberals of the early 1900’s sought to “move with the times” by accepting the so-called “insights of modern science.”  Their commitments to progressive ideas and the new “science” of genetics led to their support of eugenics, a program aimed at producing better humans through better breeding.  For those of us who would understand and counter those same ideas in our day, Preaching Eugenics is must reading.


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Genetic Ethics:  Do the Ends Justify the Genes

edited by John F. Kilner, Rebecca D. Pentz, and Frank E. Young

William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997


The ethical challenges of the genetic revolution are profound:  Who should have access to a person’s genetic records?  Do companies have a right to use genetic information to limit access to employment or health insurance?  How should parents and society respond when an unborn child is diagnosed with a genetic disease, such as Down’s Syndrome?  What do we do if a genetic test discovers a genetic disease for which there is presently no cure?  These are only a few of the issues discussed in this important volume.


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Human Reproduction and Sexuality



The Reproduction Revolution: A Christian Appraisal of Sexuality, Reproductive Technologies, and the Family

John F. Kilner, Paige C. Cunningham, and W. David Hager, editors

Wm. B. Eerdmans-Lightning Source, 2000


From the Endorsements:  “Within the high-paced, highly controverted field of bioethics, the most hotly debated issues center on sexuality, reproductive technology, and the family. This new volume from the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity provides a thought-provoking appraisal of the ethical dimension of the reproductive revolution from a Christian perspective. Thirty scholars and medical practitioners discuss some of the most pressing topics related to human reproduction, including the moral status of embryos, the use of donor eggs and sperm, surrogate motherhood and human cloning, and the abortifacient effect of birth control pills.


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Understanding Contemporary Culture



The Clash of Orthodoxies:  Law, Religion, and Morality in Crisis

by Robert George

ISI Books, 2001


“The clash of orthodoxies in contemporary American social and political life manifests itself above all in conflicts over ‘life issues,’ such as abortion, infanticide, physician-assisted suicide, and euthanasia….  Underlying these disputes are profound differences regarding the source and nature of morality and the proper relationship of moral judgment to law and public policy.”  Writing from a Catholic natural law perspective, George provides an excellent resource both for understanding the conflicts in the bioethics arena and for understanding how religion and morality should influence public policy and law.


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