Cover image for Claiming power over life : religion and biotechnology policy
Claiming power over life : religion and biotechnology policy
Hanson, Mark J.
Publication Information:
Washington, DC : Georgetown University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xiv, 236 pages ; 24 cm.
Introduction / Mark J. Hanson -- Meaningful resistance : religion and biotechnology / Courtney Campbell -- Human cloning and liberal neutrality: why we need to broaden the public debate / B. Andrew Lustig -- The uneven playing field of the dialogue on patenting / John H. Evans -- Religious voices in biotechnology: the case of gene patenting / Mark J. Hanson -- Religious perspectives on biotechnology / Audrey R. Chapman -- Theological interpretations of biotechnology: issues and questions / Ronald Cole-Turner -- Religion, biotechnology, and the integrity of nature: a critical examination / Gerald P. McKenny -- Jewish voices on technology in health care / Elliot N. Dorff.
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TP248.23 .C535 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Developments in biotechnology, such as cloning and the decoding of the human genome, are generating questions and choices that traditionally have fallen within the realm of religion and philosophy: the definition of human life, human vs. divine control of nature, the relationship between human and non-human life, and the intentional manipulation of the mechanisms of life and death.

In Claiming Power over Life , eight contributors challenge policymakers to recognize the value of religious views on biotechnology and discuss how best to integrate the wisdom of the Christian and Jewish traditions into public policy debates. Arguing that civic discourse on the subject has been impoverished by an inability to accommodate religious insights productively, they identify the ways in which religious thought can contribute to policymaking. Likewise, the authors challenge religious leaders and scholars to learn about biotechnology, address the central issues it raises, and participate constructively in the moral debates it engenders.

The book will be of value to policymakers, religious leaders, ethicists, and all those interested in issues surrounding the intersection of religion and biotechnology policy.

Author Notes

Mark J. Hanson is a faculty associate at the Practical Ethics Center of the University of Montana and executive director of the Missoula Demonstration Project: The Quality of Life's End in Missoula, Montana

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This collection of essays, including one on Jewish views of biotechnology, presents a cogent argument that policy discourse on biotechnology can be enriched by various religious insights even though these may need clarification and refinement. Thus, Courtney Campbell argues that the expression of religious ideas constitutes neither "imposition" nor "establishment," but rather that religion can serve as a "power of resistance," providing a moral voice, independent from technological specialization, which can "infuse the debate with a sense of spirit, heart and meaning." B. Andrew Lustig notes parallels between religious and nonreligious arguments and points out that, like communitarianism, religious traditions raise questions about the moral minimalism of liberal thought and have a more robust and communal view of the human self. Hanson (Univ. of Montana) argues that religious critiques enrich debates on patenting by demonstrating it to be an ethical as well as an economic and legal issue. Audrey Chapman believes that religious critiques of biotechnology "sensitize and stimulate the moral imagination of the religious and secular public and expand their ethical horizons." This book will be valuable to all interested in the intersection between religion and biotechnology policy. J. A. Kegley California State University, Bakersfield



"Rapid advances in biotechnology are prompting many people to raise questions and make statements about it that sound distinctively religious. The human genome is described publicly as the "book of life" and the "holy grail." ... This kind of religious language symbolizes the kind of power that human beings, through biotechnology, are obtaining over the biological components of life itself. Whatever it means to play God, we surely seem to be closer to it than ever before." -- from the Introduction Excerpted from Claiming Power over Life: Religion and Biotechnology Policy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

IntroductionMark J. Hanson
Meaningful Resistance: Religion and BiotechnologyCourtney Campbell
Human Cloning and Liberal Neutrality: Why We Need to Broaden the Public DialogueB. Andrew Lang
The Uneven Playing Field of the Dialogue on PatentingJohn H. Evans
Religious Voices in Biotechnology: The Case of Gene PatentingMark J. Hanson
Religious Perspectives on Biotechnology: Issues and QuestionsRonald Cole-Turner
Religion, Biotechnology, and the Integrity of Nature: Critical ExaminationGerald P. McKenny
Jewish Views on Technology in Health CareElliot N. Dorff