2011 CBHD Conference: The Scandal of Bioethics


When I say “scandal,” you may think I’m referring to the latest gossip column about Congressmen texting or Tweeting inappropriate photos. If I were to press a little further, some might recall the book that rocked the evangelical world in the mid 90s, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll. Noll assessed the sad state of evangelical thought and the reasons behind it. It is just this kind of careful review that has inspired our 2011 summer conference theme at The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity. The title is “The Scandal of Bioethics: Reclaiming Christian Influence in Technology, Science, & Medicine.”[1]

Bioethics is rooted in Christian theological moral reflection. Today, the “scandal” is the diminishing Christian voice in the bioethics conversation. Bioethics deals with the all-important questions about what it means to be human and what it means to flourish as a human being. Christians have something important to say about this. Shouldn’t we be heard? Some would argue that today there is no place for Christian conclusions in public bioethics. Others might say that the Christian voice is irrelevant.

Are they right? Has Christian bioethics made a difference?

These are the questions that our speakers will answer at our 18th annual summer conference, July 14-16, 2011. Let me give you a sneak preview.

Our lineup of speakers is a stellar one, including some who are new to our podium.

Dr. Edmund Pellegrino, one of the “founding fathers” of bioethics, will open our conference with his deep historical insight on the legacy of Christianity to bioethics. As the chair of the President’s Council on Bioethics, Dr. Pellegrino witnessed the tug of war between religiously inspired and secular perspectives.

Dennis Hollinger, president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, will challenge us to choose the good, to exercise moral courage in challenging times. David Stevens of the Christian Medical and Dental Association will remind doctors, dentists and nurses about their noble calling.

Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald from Georgetown will help remove our fears about the de-humanizing aspects of technology, by pointing us to those areas of research that affirm human dignity. Our final session is a panel that will present three perspectives from within Christendom: Orthodox, Catholic and evangelical. They’ll discuss the question “Can bioethics be Christian?”

If this sounds too elevated for you, let me reassure you: there will be workshops that help us connect the dots between the theoretical and the practical. And let me challenge you: don’t be lulled into thinking that this isn’t important to you. These are the most profound questions of our day about the future of human dignity.

To think otherwise? Well, that’s just a scandal.

[1] For more information on the 2011 CBHD Annual Conference or for links to purchase the audio set, please visit: http://cbhd.org/events/the-scandal-of-bioethics.


Everyday Bioethics Audio Commentary Album Art