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Cutting-edge bioethics: a Christian exploration of technologies and trends
  1. M Peat

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    Edited by J F Kilner, C C Hook, D B Uustal. Eerdmans, 2002, £5.99/$22.00, pp xii–201. ISBN 0802849598.

    In an age where developments in biotechnology offer new possibilities for overcoming disease at a breathtaking rate, there is a certain timeliness in recalling C S Lewis’s farsighted depiction of “the magician’s bargain”, “that process whereby man surrenders object after object, and finally himself, to nature in return for power”.1 Lewis’s reflections on the implications of science’s quest for mastery over nature, outlined in his renowned essay The Abolition of Man, highlight the coercive tendencies of this yearning for control. In practice, he argues, “power over nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with nature as its instrument”, and ironically proves not to be a power that humanity can wield for its chosen ends, but rather one that enslaves its pursuers to their appetite for domination (Lewis,1 p 35 and the discussion which follows). In seeking, through technical control, to transcend our bodily limits (limits signified in part by the burden of disease) we embrace a technocratic mindset that, if adopted unconditionally, will lead us to regard our given identity as raw material to be “improved” by mechanical means.

    This collection of essays aims to give fresh voice to this warning in the face of the very latest in biotechnological innovations. In the words of the editors, it is intended as a “wake up call,” informing readers of the exciting possibilities for health care in the future, and equipping them with the concepts with which to appraise them from a Christian perspective. Like C S Lewis, the contributors are keen to dispel any suggestion that …

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