Engineered in His Image? Christians More Cautious About Gene Editing

A Pew Research survey across 20 countries found believers lag behind their non-religious neighbors in support for the technology, with the biggest gap in the US.

Christians around the globe share concerns about the application of fast-advancing gene-editing technology, making them more cautious about the research and its potential application to alter a baby’s genetic makeup, according to a new survey.

Trevor Stammers, bioethicist and former chair of the UK-based Christian Medical Fellowship, called gene editing “arguably the most significant medical advance of the millennium to date” and says “it is certainly here to stay.”

As the technology has moved from possibility to a reality, this year the Pew Research Center found that across 20 countries, most people are open to using the technology to treat disease in babies.

The team of researchers that developed CRISPR “scissors”—a tool to insert, replace, and remove particular segments of cell DNA—won the 2020 Nobel Prize in chemistry, and scientists are already discussing possible uses of gene editing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bioethical concerns around editing human DNA aren’t as familiar to everyday Christians as abortion and assisted sucide, medical ethicist Daniel J. Hurst told CT, but they are growing more urgent.

In 2018, a Chinese scientist performed experimental gene editing on a set of twins, altering their DNA to increase their resistance to HIV. Members of the scientific community condemned his methodology and urged researchers not to put “the technical cart before the ethical horse,” recounted Hurst, a Christian and the director of medical professionalism, ethics, and humanities at Rowan University.

Those with a special concern for upholding life and honoring God’s creation tend to approach this field of research with additional unease. …

Continue reading

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *