Top Twelve Bioethics Books

Today more than ever those concerned about the meaning of personhood and the dignity of human life need to be aware of the many developments in medicine, biotechnology, the life sciences, and the ethical dilemmas associated with them.

Be they the older bioethical dilemmas of abortion or euthanasia, or the newer varieties, such as cloning, genetic engineering or stem cell research, these recent developments in science, medicine and technology have repercussions for us all. Indeed, the brave new world implications of much of this is upon us all right now.

Thus believers especially need to be up on these issues. We do not all need to be experts, nor can we. But most of us can at least acquaint ourselves with some of these issues, and seek a general position on them arising from Judeo-Christian considerations.

Hence this list. There are of course many thousands of books on bioethics that have appeared over the past several decades. And of those, perhaps only a minority would come from a more conservative, moral or pro-life point of view. It is from those that I draw. And these twelve books are penned mostly by people who also make a profession of faith. Thus most are guided by, and representative of, Judeo-Christian principles and teachings (admittedly, mainly from the Protestant side in this case).

This is by its very nature a selective list. For example, I have left many good volumes off this list. Also, I tended to select newer titles over older ones, simply because of the cutting-edge nature of biotechnology. But some of the older authors, such as Paul Ramsey, should not be neglected.

Given these constraints, it can still be maintained that these twelve volumes are among the best books to be consulted for those wanting an introductory handle on the various bioethics issues, and wish to think intelligently and ethically about them.

If even several of these volumes were carefully digested, the reader would be well placed to enter many of the bioethics debates of today. And given the vital importance of these topics, that is my aim: that more people, especially believers, would enter the debate, and offer a much needed, and informed, voice.

(Because most of these books are fairly similar in approach, I will not offer annotations of each. They generally start with an overview of bioethics, and then have separate chapters on various topics, such as abortion, or cloning, or IVF, or designer babies, and so on. However, most of these books have been fully reviewed by me on this website.)

Here then are the top dozen, listed alphabetically:

Cameron, Nigel de S., The New Medicine: Life and Death After Hippocrates. Crossway Books, 1991.

Cameron, Nigel de S., ed., Bioengagement. Eerdmans, 2000.

Colson, Charles and Nigel de S. Cameron, eds., Human Dignity in the Biotech Century. InterVarsity Press, 2004.

Foreman, Mark, Christianity and Bioethics. College Press Publishing, 1999.

Kass, Leon, Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity. Encounter Books, 2002.

Kass, Leon, Toward a More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs. The Free Press, 1985.

Kilner, John, et al., eds., Cutting-Edge Bioethics. Eerdmans 2002.

Meilander, Gilbert, Bioethics: A Primer for Christians. Eerdmans, 1996.

Peterson, James, Genetic Turning Points. Eerdmans, 2001.

Rae, Scott and Paul Cox, Bioethics. Eerdmans, 1999.

Smith, Wesley, Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World. Encounter Books, 2004.

Wyatt, John, Matters of Life and Death. InterVarsity Press, 1998.

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