Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Created in God’s genetically modified image?

From Science and Theology magazine:

A priest, a rabbi, and an Islamic scholar walk into a room full of scientists …

Sound like a modern twist to a politically incorrect joke? Actually it happened in 1999 in Rockville, Md., and serves as an ideal metaphor for the growing cooperation between science and religion. The three religious leaders were among 11 experts called by the National Bioethics Advisory Commission to give religious perspectives on human stem cell research.

The witnesses agreed on little. But it was evident that a fundamental question had gone unchanged, at least since Nathaniel Hawthorne’s cautionary short story “The Birthmark” was published 163 years ago. Should scientists do something simply because they can? As biotechnology enables us to do more and more, that question becomes ever more finely parsed. From 1866 to this day, no one has looked askance at Gregor Mendel’s cross-pollination of pea pods. Yet in the spring of 1994, biotechnology firm Calgene’s genetically modified Flavr Savr tomato drew salvos from activists who charged that the company was producing “Frankenfood” that could harm human health and disrupt the food chain.

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