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.

Advent Hope for a MedTech World

Michael J. Sleasman, PhD

In the hope of Advent we remember not one, but two central tenets of the Christian faith. First, we remember and celebrate the coming of the promised messiah through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the divine mystery of the God-man, through whom the way of redemption is made possible. In this taking on of our frail human flesh, the incarnation also reaffirms our humanity as embodied creatures. Given that Christmastide follows right on the heels of Advent, we see the clear connection between the hope of promise and its fulfillment as we then celebrate the birth and life of Jesus. The implications of the first Advent and especially the doctrine of the incarnation are critical for a robust Christian engagement with ethical issues raised by developments in medicine, science, and technology.

Peter Lawler’s Stuck with Virtue—and Technology

Michael Shafer, PhD

I was sad to hear of the recent passing of a well-respected political philosopher, Peter Augustine Lawler. I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Lawler several years ago at a meeting for the President’s Council on Bioethics in Chicago. I had just finished reading his book Stuck with Virtue, so during one of the breaks I approached him and struck up a conversation. I do not recall the exact questions I asked, but what impressed me most was that while standing in a room with some of the brightest ethical minds in America (he was not at a loss for great conversations) he was still incredibly gracious and attentive to a young doctoral student asking lots of questions.

Now, roughly a decade later, I serve as a pastor to a local church outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Lawler’s book may not be topping any charts among pastors, but I advise my fellow pastors and ministry leaders to engage with his ideas. Those who venture in will find lucid insights about our technology-addicted culture as Lawler reveals a critical flaw in our contemporary pursuit of happiness.