Genetics, Conversation and Conversion: A Discourse at the Interface of Molecular Biology and Christian Ethics (Brian Brock)

This chapter reports on an experimental conversation between a practicing molecular biologist and a Christian ethicist. It arose in the form of joint lectures in which the presentation of the technical state of the art in genetic science proceeded hand in hand with a theological analysis of the moral implications of its scientific models, discourses, and hermeneutic claims. The impulse to open such dialogue was a sense from both sides that there is a serious deficit of detailed interaction between the two disciplines, creating a critical lack of relevant ethical discussion of issues related to human genetics. As a result, popular and academic discussions of ethical
issues in human genetics have drifted apart to the point of absurdity. Yet rather than responding to this estrangement by embarking on the popular ‘scientific education’ approach, we felt that a concerted
attempt was needed not simply to express the science to the public, but to try to understand the moral implications of the science by struggling to articulate theologically expressed questions and criticisms in the course of discussion about the science.

Brian Brock, Walter Doerfler & Hans Ulrich

Being Disabled in the New World of Genetic Testing: A Snapshot of Shifting Landscapes (Brian Brock)

This paper speaks biographically in order to introduce a real time snapshot of the forces genetic technologies bring to bear on the disabled and their families. We do so as an academic theologian and a neo-natal nurse experiencing the joys and frustrations of first-time parenthood. Our son, Adam, now two years old, has Down’s syndrome, and it is the events of his first six months on which our account draws. This paper will outline the
pressures we experienced as parents of a ‘genetically handicapped’ child, and then, in conclusion, offer a few theological reflections.