Last updateFri, 24 Oct 2014 5pm


Worldviews in Collision

In 2005 Christian bio-ethicist Nigel Cameron spoke to the National Right to Life Convention. His challenge to the prolife community was to consider moving beyond abortion as the singular focus of our pro-life endeavors. He said, "In the 21st century it will not be enough to simply be pro-life, one must also be pro-human."

Michael Sleasman, Managing Director and Research Scholar for The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity explains, "while many of the ethical questions of the late 20th Century dealt with bioethical concerns over the beginning and end of life issues (the making and taking of human life), the questions raised by these new, these emerging technologies threaten to change the nature of the human species and the very essence of what it means to be human."

Western civilization is at a critical juncture. According to U.S Congressman Brad Sherman, a member of the U.S. House Science Committee,the unprecedented capabilities of emerging bio-technologies have set the stage for a technological revolution which he referenced as analogous only to the development of nuclear technology. That our culture has reached an ethical crossroads is evidenced by the following statements made by American congressmen at a "nanopolicy roundtable" held in 2006.

"We are talking about a suite of technologies that are going to revolutionize the way we do things and how we live. And the questions are How will that happen? And what will we do as this unfolds? Do we have systems in place that are capable of keeping up with the rapid change in technology?" - Marty Spritzer (Representing U.S.Representative Sherwood Boehlert, Chairman of the House Science Committee)

"What are the policy implications of the emerging ethical issues related to nanotechnology? In other words, how does this bounce back to us (Congress)? Do we need laws? Do we need regulations? Do we need congressional action? Don't ask me to answer all of these question. That's your job, and I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts." - U.S. Congressman David Weldon

"Now, like my colleagues, I do not have any answers. Rather, I hope to identify some of the questions. I know that the right time to start thinking about these questions is now...What is the definition of a human?" - U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman

Similarly, The president and co-founder of the Institute on Biotechnology & the Human Future Nigel Cameron said, "The problem is brought into ready focus by the manner in which bioethics has essentially emerged as the conjoined twin of bio-policy."

The questions have been posed, but their answers require a deeper look into the nature of ethics and policy, ideas and action. So, we will look deeper.

Ideas are irrelevant without action, and action is precedented by idea. Or, to quote the widely acclaimed American philosopher Sam Harris, "Beliefs are scarcely more private than actions are, for every belief is a fount of action in potentia."

One concept that has contributed to American greatness is its celebration and protection of free speech and inquiry. No matter how outrageous, disturbing or irrational, America zealously guards the right to think, inquire and speak without censure. This right is vital to our progress as a culture, because true truth never fears inspection. Sincere seekers of truth welcome all ideas to the table of rational debate. That said, any policymaker can tell you that at some point ideas must translate into action, otherwise society will stagnate or even regress. A "plurality of ideas" is essential to stimulate healthy social debate, but at some point, specific ideas must be selected as those on which to act.

As demonstrated by the Congressional quotes above, American bioethics and bio-technologies are currently held hostage, so to speak, by a misconception deeply rooted in the American mind. We will refer to this misconception as the concept of " plurality of action".

Unless we intend to abandon rationality, it is apparent that in some circumstances you can not have two opposing actions simultaneously. You can not have your cake and eat it too. You can not go up to get down. If you kill someone, they can not be alive. Yes, there are paradoxes, yes there are gray areas. but gray areas and paradoxes have never been the points upon which men construct their ethics, philosophy, science, or law. These things, if they are to grow and flourish, must be constructed on a solid and cohesive foundation of "first principles" from which all further action may rationally proceed.

The assumptions on which man rationally constructs his social frameworks constitute his "worldview". Everyone has a world view. Whether he realizes it or not, he has at some point formed assumptions about what it is to be human and acts accordingly. A worldview then is nothing more than a set of presuppositions that we act on. A cultural worldview is nothing more than the set of socially agreed "first assumptions" from which national policy rationally proceeds.

Every worldview attempts to answer the three fundamental human questions:

* What is man?

* What is wrong with the world?

* Can we make it better?

The first question is critical to the discussion at hand. It begs the question "Where did man come from?" And this is the ultimate question on which all ethics, all morality, and by inference all policy and culture rest. Prior to the emergence of modern bio-technologies, Western culture managed to evade this question, to quietly ignore it. But the advent of modern bio-technologies has once again returned us to the elephant in the room which we all had hoped to ignore. " What is the origin and nature of man?"

In a rational world, our bio-policy is dictated by our ethics, our ethics is dictated by our worldview, and our worldview is dictated by our assumptions concerning the origin and nature of man. Ethics can not be a gray area. If we treat it as such, we will find ourselves unable to act in, much less to lead in the coming bio-tech age. It is imperative that American policy makers decide on a cohesive frame of reference and then act accordingly. What will be the idea behind our action? The assumption that man is the creation and design of an intelligent being, or that he is the result of chance evolutionary processes? Is man a unique creation or an organic phenomenon in process? Will we assume the existence of an eternal Supreme Being or the eternal existence of uncreated matter?

GRTL adEither way the question is answered, an assumption has been made. Nobel Prize winning physicist, Leon M. Lederman, agrees. He said:

"In the very beginning, there was a void, a curious form of vacuum, a nothingness containing no space, no time, no matter, no light, no sound. Yet the laws of nature were in place and this curious vacuum held potential. A story logically begins at the beginning, but this story is about the universe and unfortunately there are no data for the very beginnings--none, zero. We don't know anything about the universe until it reaches the mature age of a billion of a trillionth of a second. That is, some very short time after creation in the big bang. When you read or hear anything about the birth of the universe, someone is making it up--we are in the realm of philosophy. Only God knows what happened at the very beginning. "

Personhood asserts that the only rational basis for a pro-human policy in the 21st century is the historic Judeo/Christian view of man as created in the image of God. We also assert that the rational outcome of a materialist/evolutionary assumption is the transhumanist vision of emerging technologies unrestrained by archaic superstitions and ethics.

Biotechnology's Brave New World

by Erwin W. Lutzer

If Immanuel Kant was awakened from his dogmatic slumbers by reading Hume, I have been awakened from my cultural malaise by investigating some of the present medical advances that could radically affect our children and grandchildren. My cursory and all too brief study has made me conclude that ethical issues raised by biotechnology are among the most important to be considered. We stand today at a crossroads where quite literally the future of the human race is at stake. I do not mean the survival of the human race, but something more sinister: the altering of the very concept of what it means to be human. The issue is not whether future generations shall live; the issue is what future people--if we call them such--shall be like. We must face the possibility of Huxley's Brave New World and ask: Is there something we can do to prevent the possibility of a profoundly tragic future from occurring?

When Christians propose limiting the use of biotechnology, they typically face formidable opposition from the non-religious community. Secularists often argue that the Church has always been opposed to scientific progress. Think, for example, of official Christendom opposing Galileo and of religious opposition to the smallpox vaccine on the grounds that the disease was a judgment from God with which we ought not interfere.

Personhood and Imago Dei

All of us are familiar with the classic hymn Holy, Holy, Holy, where the refrain declares the eternal truth, "God in three Persons . . . bless-ed Trinity." One God, three distinct Persons . . .  set apart from each other and yet equal . . this is a great and profound mystery. Personhood exists in the Godhead.

When God created Mankind he imparted a similar attribute of Personhood. Genesis 1:26-27 says, “Then God said,“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . .So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (ESV).

In the original Hebrew this would have meant, "Let us make man to be like us and to represent us." An example would be the sacrament of  marriage where "two become one flesh." (Mark 10:8) Two persons, co-equal in God's eyes and yet one in unity. This same unity is evidenced by an individual "person" being composed of material (body) and immaterial (soul and spirit).Both the Hebrew word for "image" (tselem) and the Hebrew word for "likeness" (demut) refer to something that is similar but not identical to the thing it represents.

The attribute of "representation" separates all human life from the rest of God's creation. This state of being "set apart", derived from the Hebrew word qadosh, is many times translated in our English bibles as "holy", "sacred" or "sanctified". From this concept we derive the term "sanctity of life." While it is true that this difference with the rest of the animal kingdom is not absolute, it is also true that we are much more like God than all the rest of creation.This concept forms the foundation of human dignity and respect for human life throughout Western civilization and history.

“Imago Dei” is Latin for the “image of God.” To be created imago Dei means being endowed with a body, soul and an spirit, (1 Thess. 5:23)  a capacity to know and be known by God and a measure of autonomy and free will in the areas of thought and action that allow us to serve His purposes and glorify Him. Mankind's rebellion corrupted His Image.

After the Fall, God's Image in humanity was distorted by sin, but NOT lost. This is explained by theologian Wayne Grudem when he says (quoting Genesis 9:6),

""Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image". Even though men are sinful, there is still enough likeness to God remaining in them that to murder another person (to "shed blood" is an Old Testament expression for taking a human life) is to attack the part of creation that most resembles God, and it betrays an attempt or desire (if one were able) to attack God himself. (below, [21:9]) Man is still in God's image. The New Testament gives confirmation to this when James 3:9 says that men generally, not just believers, "are made in the likeness of God."

Perhaps the greatest argument for the sanctity of life is the Incarnation itself. Christ Jesus took on human flesh and dwelt among us that he might redeem fallen mankind.

“For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." John 3:16-17

Our redemption in Christ is a progressive recovery of God's Image. Paul says that as Christians we have a new nature that is "being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator" (Col. 3:10). At Christ's return there will be a complete restoration of  God's Image. "God has predestined us "to be conformed to the image of his son" (Rom. 8:29; cf. 1 Cor. 15:49): "When he appears we shall be like him" (1 John 3:2)."

Because we bear the image of God, all mankind, and, by extension, each and every human life has a “specialness” and worth that demands respect and legal protection. Each human life, from its earliest stage of development, is a unique Person which bears God’s likeness, and should have the same protection of law that is afforded other “persons” in our society. For this reason, all human life should be respected in law. This respect is due regardless of the manner of conception, whether through the marital act, fertilized “in vitro” (IVF), or through the “ex utero” process of Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT, otherwise know as cloning).

Our United States Constitution limits its protection to “born” persons. This limitation implicitly violates the doctrine of imago Dei, and has resulted in a branch of the pro-life movement now focusing its educational and legislative efforts on promoting “Personhood” as the answer to the emerging biotech issues facing us in the twenty-first century.

Whitepapers & Links: Transhumanism

Conscious Evolution

"We in the Eugenics movement are not interested in competing against Adolph Hitler or Karl Marx for some minuscule little 1,000 year Reich. We are interested in competing with Jesus Christ and Buddha for the destiny of man."


The Theology of Posthumanism

Posthumanism is not a formal religion, but rather, it is driven by a series of underlying religious beliefs. Posthumanists, for example, believe that finite and temporal limits of the human body place severe constraints upon the human will.

Summer 2009 Issue of H+ Magazine

"The Designer Baby Controversy", page 25

Fall 2009 Issue of H+ Magazine

Recommended Reading: "God Wants You Dead", page 86

Movie Trailer for Ray Kurzweil's Transcendent Man: Prepare to Evolve

Transhumanism's "Prophet" for the 21st Century and beyond

Remaking Humans: The New Utopians Versus a Truly Human Future

The new technopians actually have a name for themselves: transhumanists. According to the World Transhumanist Association: "Transhumanism (as the term suggests) is a sort of humanism plus.

The Worst Lies You Have Been Told About the Singularity 

Are we approaching technological changes that will merge biological and non-biological intelligence, fuse the man-machine relationship, and blur the lines between reality and virtual reality?

World Transhumanist Association

We support the development of and access to new technologies that enable everyone to enjoy better minds, better bodies and better lives.

Democratic Transhumanism 2.0: Citizen Cyborg

"Let the ruling classes and Luddites tremble at a democratic transhumanist revolution. "

Transhumanism From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedi

". . . the world's most dangerous idea."

A.L.L. News and Events

Feed not found