Presentation on theme: "Series on ethics based on 'Doing the Right Thing' Study guide at Christian worldview teaching Ed van Ouwerkerk,"— Presentation transcript:
Series on ethics based on 'Doing the Right Thing' Study guide at Christian worldview teaching Ed van Ouwerkerk, ISI campus staff, Ames (IA)
Session Four: “What does it mean to be human” Ethics today revolves around the related fields of medical ethics (allocation of medical resources, end-of-life decisions) and biotechnology (genetic testing to determine whether or not a baby should live, abortion). It’s all about the difference between a human being and a person, especially for the unborn, the elderly and the disabled, and their equal worth and dignity, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.
First some thoughts and definitions: Triage is the process of determining the priority of patients' treatments based on the severity of their condition in case of scarce resources (money, personnel). Peter Singer and his utilitarian approach In a utilitarian calculation, there is nothing to weigh against a woman's preference to have an abortion; therefore, abortion is morally permissible. Similar to his argument for abortion, Singer argues that newborns lack the essential characteristics of personhood—"rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness"—and therefore "killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living."
Eugenics is currently defined as the applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a human population. Historically, many of the practitioners of eugenics viewed eugenics as a science, not necessarily restricted to human populations; this embraced the views of Darwin and Social Darwinism. By the mid-20th century eugenics had fallen into disfavor, having become associated with Nazi Germany. Both the public and some elements of the scientific community have associated eugenics with Nazi abuses, such as enforced racial hygiene, human experimentation, and the extermination of undesired population groups. Eugenics was widely popular in the early decades of the 20th century. The National Socialists approach to genetics and eugenics became focused on Eugen Fischer's concept of phenogenetics and the Nazi twin study methods of Fischer and Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer.
However, developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised many new questions and concerns about the meaning of eugenics and its ethical and moral status in the modern era, effectively creating a resurgence of interest in eugenics. Examples: popular Star Trek movies, social and genetic engineering research (Human Genome Project) and practice in many countries, such as: the Chinese one-child policy with forced sterilization and mass-abortion of undesired/forbidden unborn, ethnic cleansing in Serbia and Uganda, a ‘notable sperm bank’ in Sichuan (China), required blood tests in the U.S. states Montana and Mississippi for a marriage certificate, enforced sterilizations (Japan, India, Peru), etc. country report year abortions per 1,000 women (15-44 year), source: UN 2007 India Netherlands United States China (13 million/year) Russia
Watch video (31 min.) of Session Four (disk 4) Make notes on the handout during the video: 1. Dr. Swan and battlefield triage 2. Allocating resources a. Image of God and human dignity b. Eugenics c. The principle of double effect 3. Making medical decisions a. The problem of cost b. The problem of socialized medicine c. Family decisions vs. state decisions 4. Questions of bioethics a. Designer babies for spare parts b. Embryo-destructive stem cell research c. Human vs. person 5. What does it mean to be human? a. Unique dignity of each person as the foundation for dealing with medical and bioethical issues b. Peter Singer's utilitarianism After the movie, discuss the questions of your handout, depending on time at least 1b, 3, and 4.
Bible verses for questions Question 1b Matthew 19:13-14 (NIV 1984) 13 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Acts 2:37-40 (NIV 1984) 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Question 3; Bible verses 2 Samuel 9:1-13 (NIV 1984) David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They called him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” “Your servant,” he replied. The king asked, “Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.” “Where is he?” the king asked. Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.” So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, “Mephibosheth!” “Your servant,” he replied. “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons. Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table, and he was crippled in both feet. Romans 12:8-10 (NIV 1984) if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Question 4; Bible verses Romans 3:7-8 (NIV 1984) Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is deserved. Romans 6:1-2 (NIV 1984) What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?