Claiming Power Over Life

Religion and Biotechnology Policy

Mark J. Hanson, Editor

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Developments in biotechnology, such as cloning and the decoding of the human genome, are generating questions and choices that traditionally have fallen within the realm of religion and philosophy: the definition of human life, human vs. divine control of nature, the relationship between human and non-human life, and the intentional manipulation of the mechanisms of life and death.

In Claiming Power over Life, eight contributors challenge policymakers to recognize the value of religious views on biotechnology and discuss how best to integrate the wisdom of the Christian and Jewish traditions into public policy debates. Arguing that civic discourse on the subject has been impoverished by an inability to accommodate religious insights productively, they identify the ways in which religious thought can contribute to policymaking. Likewise, the authors challenge religious leaders and scholars to learn about biotechnology, address the central issues it raises, and participate constructively in the moral debates it engenders.

The book will be of value to policymakers, religious leaders, ethicists, and all those interested in issues surrounding the intersection of religion and biotechnology policy.

Table of Contents


Mark J. Hanson

Meaningful Resistance: Religion and Biotechnology
Courtney Campbell

Human Cloning and Liberal Neutrality: Why We Need to Broaden the Public Dialogue
B. Andrew Lang

The Uneven Playing Field of the Dialogue on Patenting
John H. Evans

Religious Voices in Biotechnology: The Case of Gene Patenting
Mark J. Hanson

Religious Perspectives on Biotechnology: Issues and Questions
Ronald Cole-Turner

Religion, Biotechnology, and the Integrity of Nature: Critical Examination
Gerald P. McKenny

Jewish Views on Technology in Health Care
Elliot N. Dorff




"Rapid advances in biotechnology are prompting many people to raise questions and make statements about it that sound distinctively religious. The human genome is described publicly as the "book of life" and the "holy grail." … This kind of religious language symbolizes the kind of power that human beings, through biotechnology, are obtaining over the biological components of life itself. Whatever it means to play God, we surely seem to be closer to it than ever before."—from the Introduction


Courtney Campbell Audrey R. Chapman Ronald Cole-Turner Elliot N. Dorff John H. Evans Mark J. Hanson B. Andrew Lustig Gerald P. McKenny

Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Mark J. Hanson is a faculty associate at the Practical Ethics Center of the University of Montana and executive director of the Missoula Demonstration Project: The Quality of Life’s End in Missoula, Montana. He is the co-editor with Daniel Callahan of The Goals of Medicine: The Forgotten Issues in Health Care Reform (Georgetown University Press, 1999).

192 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-0-87840-864-1
Oct 2001

192 pp., 6 x 9

Oct 2001

192 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-297-4
Oct 2001

Hastings Center Studies in Ethics series
Gregory E. Kaebnick and Daniel Callahan, Series Editors

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