A review of How to Be a Christian in a Brave New World. By Joni Eareckson Tada and Nigel Cameron. Zondervan, 2006.
The brave new world the authors refer to is the scary new world of biomedical technologies and breakthroughs. While the new biotech offers much promise, it also raises many ethical and social concerns. In this volume two Christian authors advise readers on how to think biblically and morally about the new technologies.
Thus issues such as human cloning, stem cell research, genetic engineering, eugenics, designer babies, and cybernetics are closely examined.
The pair are well placed to discuss these topics. Joni is well known as a speaker and writer who has learned to cope with her quadriplegia. Nearly 40 years ago she was confined to a wheel chair after a diving accident. She could easily be tempted to grasp at the hype and hoopla promised by such things as embryonic stem cell research, but is aware that any potential cures must be ethically achieved.
And Nigel Cameron is a long standing expert on bioethics issues, and author of the important 1991 book, The New Medicine. Together they help us think ethically about where the new biomedicine and technologies are taking us.
As mentioned, there are a lot of promises being made about how cures derived from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) may soon help people like Joni walk again, and help many other people with various diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. While Joni would of course love to be able to walk again, she realizes that ESCs are not the way to go. This is because ethical medicine must take priority in such cases. Killing an embryo to obtain its stem cells is not how we show respect and dignity to members of the human race.
Killing some to possibly save others is not good medicine, and it is not morally acceptable. Plus, as the authors show, adult stem cell research is already resulting in numerous human cures, while ESCs have not yet led to even one.
This book does not simply give an academic case against some of the destructive new technologies, but features case studies and personal stories of many people suffering various infirmities and diseases. Joni herself of course provides a human face as to how ethical medicine can be pursued.
While the media is wont to focus on emotive stories of people suffering, such as the late Christopher Reeve, and call for such ethically dubious science as ESC research, they seldom feature others who equally are suffering, but refuse to go down the path of technologies that do not respect human dignity and personhood.
Thus this book shows how we can not only think rightly about the new biotech world, but how we can act rightly as well. A very helpful resource for those wanting an introduction to this brave new world.