[Paleopsych] CBC: Nigel M. de S. Cameron: How we Lost "Bioethics" and How We Can Win it Back

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Nigel M. de S. Cameron: How we Lost "Bioethics" and How We Can Win it Back
The Weekly Newsletter of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network

    [9](from tothesource.com) continued from
    last week. America is blessed with more than one hundred
    serious-minded, accredited, four-year Christian (basically
    evangelical) colleges - as well as many Catholic institutions. Back in
    the early 90s, I shared a luncheon presentation to the presidents of
    these evangelical schools with my friend, former Surgeon-General, C.
    Everett Koop. At that time not one evangelical school offered even a
    minor in bioethics - though almost all of them have pre-med students;
    and not one evangelical school had developed a grad program in the
    field. We pleaded with the presidents to prepare their students for
    the extraordinary opportunities of leadership in this emerging
    discussion of human life - especially those who were planning to go to
    med school. Now, more than a decade later, things have changed - but
    not much. One school has a minor. One school has a grad program. It
    just happens to be the school ( Trinity International University)
    where I taught back in the 90s and was able to press for these
    programs. In the world of evangelical higher education, no-one else
    has taken up the challenge.

    Of course, this was really the challenge of the 70s. That's when
    "bioethics" got off the ground, and the secularists were wide awake to
    their opportunities. Yet, three decades later, the evangelical
    community is still so focused on the symptom (abortion) that it can
    hardly spare a thought for the disease process (a secular bioethics,
    pushing secular assumptions about what it means to be human) that has
    led our culture to think in terms of human life in post-Christian
    terms. That may not sound so bad - but only if you are unconcerned
    about euthanasia, have never heard of stem cell research that destroys
    embryos, and have not been following the new technologies - which some
    people plan to use to remake human nature itself!

    [A] second example is equally telling. In Washington, DC, where so
    much is decided, there are many think-tanks that devise policy and
    prepare people to shape the future of government in our land. There
    are liberal groups and conservative groups, and they and their staffs
    have far more influence on the future of this nation than most
    Americans know. Guess what! Among them all, there is not one whose
    chief concern is to focus Christian thinking on bioethics and the
    future of human nature. Not one. We have groups that share these
    concerns (like Wilberforce Forum and Family Research Council), and we
    have pro-life advocacy groups (chiefly the National Right to Life
    Committee). But a think tank? A center looking at the huge range of
    biopolicy issues? Not a sign.

    There are plenty of other discouraging examples. Back in 1983 I
    started the first serious Christian bioethics journal (Ethics and
    Medicine), and more than two decades later it is still the only
    bioethics journal that takes a clear Christian view. A few years
    later, in my book The New Medicine: Life and Death after Hippocrates,
    I offered a model to Christians - to use the originally pagan
    Hippocratic Oath, which is still held in high esteem in medicine, as
    the basis for a public translation of Christian bioethics
    distinctives. Despite high praise from C. Everett Koop, Chuck Colson,
    Harold O.J. Brown, and Richard John Neuhaus, and a review in the
    prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, it has hardly been a best

    In truth, we have abandoned the battlefield. Way back in the early
    70s, Paul Ramsey, Princeton professor and profound Christian thinker,
    sought to set the tone for the emerging bioethics agenda. Very few
    Christians have followed. The field of serious intellectual inquiry
    and policy making has been abandoned to the likes of Art Caplan. So we
    should hardly be surprised when we hear television "bioethicists"
    prating their contempt for the sanctity of life, when every effort the
    President makes to raise serious moral concerns on stem cells and
    cloning is dismissed as the work of the "religious right," and when we
    are comprehensively out-maneuvered by the secular elite in every
    biopolicy issue.

    These issues will define our future, and that of the race. They will
    dominate the moral agenda of the 21st century. Who lost bioethics?
    Well, we did. Time to go get it back!

    And the way to begin is with the churches. This is where we have vast
    reservoirs of untapped resources; MDs, nurses, researchers, teachers -
    and pastors whose leadership will be the key to turning around a
    generation of neglect.

    Just a few days ago I was invited to spend the day at Rick Warren's
    "purpose-driven" Saddleback Community Church, in southern California.
    In the morning, the Center for Bioethics and Culture had arranged
    their latest "pastors' briefing" to update church leaders on this vast
    agenda. In the evening, Saddleback pulled in hundreds of their people
    for one of the most stimulating meetings I can remember. Once I
    finished speaking, the questions had to be cut off after an hour and a
    half - incisive, engaged, on everything from embryos to living wills
    and nanotechnology. My message had been clear: God has called us to be
    21st century Christians. We don't need to politicize the church, just
    to teach people that as patients or relatives or citizens we will all
    engage these issues - and that this follows from our discipleship as
    night follows day.

    [10]read the complete article

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    about such a seemingly irrelevant philosophical discussion as our
    "human future?"

    Well, because as Dr. Cameron so poignantly pointed out above, the
    issues related to the taking, making, and faking of human life are the
    issues that will dominate the 21st Century. These are not
    philosophical in nature. These issues are at the forefront of the
    scientific communities' agenda and have the potential for doing much
    good and much harm. Much good, by relieving human suffering, and much
    harm by devaluing the inherent dignity of all human beings.

    Unfortunately, if you have been following the news lately you will see
    how a [13]utilitarian based science has dominated the discussion.
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    4. http://www.cbc-network.org/pdfs/hurlbutinterview.pdf
    5. http://www.cbc-network.org/pdfs/hurlbutinterview.pdf
    6. http://www.cbc-network.org/enewsletter/index_8_3_05.htm
    7. http://www.cbc-network.org/
    8. http://www.cbc-network.org/
    9. http://www.tothesource.org/6_21_2005/6_21_2005.htm
   10. http://www.cbc-network.org/redesigned/research_display.php?id=243

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