God and the Embryo

cover art
240 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9780878409983 (087840998X)

July 2003
LC: 2003006470


Table of Contents

God and the Embryo
Religious Voices on Stem Cells and Cloning
Brent Waters and Ronald Cole-Turner, Editors

Named a "Book of Distinction" by the Templeton Foundation

Discussions and debates over the medical use of stem cells and cloning have always had a religious component. But there are many different religious voices. This anthology on how religious perspectives can inform the difficult issues of stem cell research and human cloning is essential to the discussion. Contributors reflect the spectrum of Christian responses, from liberal Protestant to evangelical to Roman Catholic. The noted moral philosopher, Laurie Zoloth, offers a Jewish approach to cloning, and Sondra Wheeler contributes her perspective on both Jewish and Christian understandings of embryonic stem cell research.

In addition to the discussions found here, God and the Embryo includes a series of official statements on stem cell research and cloning from religious bodies, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Rabbinical Council of America. "Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry," from the statement of the President's Council on Bioethics, concludes the book.

The debates and the discussions will continue, but for anyone interested in the nuances of religious perspectives that make their important contributions to these ethically challenging and important dialectics, God and the Embryo is an invaluable resource.

Brent Waters is director of the Center for Ethics and Values, and assistant professor of Christian Social Ethics at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He is the author of Reproductive Technology: Towards a Theology of Procreative Stewardship and co-author (with Ronald Cole-Turner) of Pastoral Genetics: Theology and Care at the Beginning of Life.

Ronald Cole-Turner is the H. Parker Sharp Professor of Theology and Ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. Recent publications include the edited volumes, Human Cloning: Religious Perspectives and Beyond Cloning: Religion and the Remaking of Humanity.
"Few readers are drawn to pick up a book of collected essays. Such volumes often seem spotty and only loosely integrated. But God and the Embryo is an exception. It especially merits inclusion in any library concerned with the interface of stem cell research, medical ethics, and religious traditions."—Commonweal

"God and the Embryo is an excellent, provocative, intellectually challenging collection. It covers the bases from differing political and religious perspectives (Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Orthodox). It makes conveniently available church documents, as well as a statement of the President's Council on Bioethics. Best of all, it uses debates about the embryo to engage basic issues in bioethics in a sophisticated way. These include the role of religion in public debate, 'personhood' and the status of the embryo, research ethics, law and ethics, and ethical judgments in situations of uncertainty. This work will raise the level of scholarly analysis, but also will be extremely useful in connecting applied ethics to fundamental ethics for seminary or university students."—Lisa Sowle Cahill, J. Donald Monan Professor of Theology, Boston College

Table of Contents
Ronald Cole-Turner

PART ONE: Frameworks

1. Religion Meets Research
Ronald Cole-Turner

2. What Is the Appropriate Contribution of Religious Communities in the Public Debate on Embryonic Stem Cell Research?
Brent Waters

3. The Ethics of Human Stem Cell Research
Gene Outka

PART TWO: Embryos

4. Does the Human Embryo Have a Moral Status?
Brent Waters

5. Is a Human Embryo a Human Being?
James C. Peterson

6. Principles and Politics: Beyond the Impasse over the Embryo
Ronald Cole-Turner

7. To Be Willing to Kill What for All One Knows Is a Person Is to Be Willing to Kill a Person
Robert Song

PART THREE: Research

8. A Plea for Beneficence
Ted Peters and Gaymon Bennett

9. Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Ethics in the Face of Uncertainty
Kevin T. Fitzgerald, SJ

10. Freedoms, Duties, and Limits: The Ethics of Research in Human Stem Cells
Laurie Zoloth

11. Talking Like Believers: Christians and Jews in the Embryonic Stem Cell Debate
Sondra Wheeler


A: Declaration on the Production and the Scientific and Therapeutic Use of Human Embryonic Stem Cells
Pontifical Academy for Life

B: Embryonic Stem Cell Research in the Perspective of Orthodox Christianity
The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America

C: Urgent Action Alert: Urge Senators to Support Complete Ban on Human Cloning
United Methodist Church

D: Resolution: On Human Embryonic and Stem Cell Research
Southern Baptist Convention

E: Support for Federally Funded Research on Embryonic Stem Cells
United Church of Christ

F: Overture 01-50. On Adopting a Resolution Enunciating Ethical Guidelines for Fetal Tissue and Stem Cell Research—From the Presbytery of Baltimore
Presbyterian Church (USA)

G: A Theologians' Brief on the Place of the Human Embryo within the Christian Tradition, and the Theological Principles for Evaluating Its Moral Status

H: Cloning Research, Jewish Tradition and Public Policy
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Rabbinical Council of America

I: Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry
The President's Council on Bioethics


Gaymon Bennett Ronald Cole-Turner Kevin T. Fitzgerald, SJ Gene Outka Ted Peters James C. Peterson Robert Song Brent Waters Sondra Wheeler Laurie Zoloth