Bioethics in Transition: Why Academic Conferences Still Matter

Paige C. Cunningham, JD, PhD

“I was expecting something inspirational and devotional. This was egghead stuff, and not really Christian.” That is a rough paraphrase of a comment from one attendee at our recent summer conference. He may have been anticipating more of a focus on discipleship and inspiration for Christian living, which I enjoy—and would expectat meetings of organizations dedicated to encouraging Christian physicians and lawyers. Or, he may have thought that plenary speakers would frequently reference biblical texts as the primary content of their presentations, since it was a Christian bioethics conference.

Whatever the case might be, the criticism raises the question: why do we at CBHD bother with designing and hosting academic conferences? This can be illustrated by considering the theme of one of the Center’s recent conferences, Bioethics in Transition.

Celebrating WALL-E’s 10th Birthday

Michael Cox, PhD

For those with eyes to see, the movie WALL-E (Disney and Pixar, 2008) can be something of an apocalypse, revealing God’s Kingdom and stoking a Christian imagination. . .

As the plot unfolds, the audience is confronted with a subtle but profound question: Who is the human here? The answer is clear as WALL-E saves humankind from an entertainment-centered, sedentary existence. But this post-apocalyptic flick can reveal something to us about what it means to flourish as humans—and maybe just save us from ourselves.

Disincarnation and the Digital Era

Paige C. Cunningham, JD, PhD

Do you know this person? “Well, we’ve met by email,” or “I know her voice from phone conversations.” I recently returned from meetings in Washington, DC, where this scene played out several times. Communications technology allowed us to exchange information and discover mutual interests before the trip, but I could not say that I knew the person until meeting face to face.

In a small way, this illustrates the power of digital technologies. On the plus side, they connect us with people we otherwise could not meet, such as the researcher in Australia I only know through a Skype video call. On the negative side, these technologies have the power to dis-connect us from people, by creating virtual relationships with nameless strangers, whether on Words with Friends or Facebook.

Ransoming Embryos

Joshua Farris, PhD
S. Mark Hamilton, PhD (Cand.)

Throughout various points of the church calendar we are reminded of how God establishes the value of human life, namely, by the incarnation of God the Son—Christ. No doubt, this divine affirmation is needed now more than ever in a context where discussions on the value of all human life are a part of everyday conversation. But this post isn’t a typical bioethical argument, although it has implications for it given the importance of the subject, namely the human embryo. While other issues could be discussed, for our purposes here we offer some suggestions for thinking through one important issue concerning the embryo, the problem of so-called embryo glut (i.e., excess), which, we think, affords Christians an opportunity for redemptive action, i.e., the rescue of a human life frozen in a perpetual state of inactivity.