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How to Be a Christian in a Brave New World

How to Be a Christian in a Brave New World

by Joni Eareckson Tada

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Stem-cell research. Cloning. Genetic engineering. Today, discoveries in biotechnology are occurring so rapidly that we can barely begin to address one ethical debate before another looms overhead. This brave new world we’ve entered is a daunting one as well, with disturbing implications for the sanctity of life and for human nature itself. How should we respond


Stem-cell research. Cloning. Genetic engineering. Today, discoveries in biotechnology are occurring so rapidly that we can barely begin to address one ethical debate before another looms overhead. This brave new world we’ve entered is a daunting one as well, with disturbing implications for the sanctity of life and for human nature itself. How should we respond as Christians? Drawing on an abundance of cutting-edge information and life experience, Joni Eareckson Tada and Nigel M. de S. Cameron help you think through issues no Christian can afford to ignore. As a quadriplegic who has spent three decades advocating for the disability community out of a wheelchair, Joni offers the insights of a woman intimately acquainted with suffering and struggle. Dr. Cameron shares from his vast knowledge as one of today’s foremost bioethics. Together, they offer deeply informed perspectives on such pressing issues as Human cloning Designer babies Redefining human nature Human harvesting Here is thoughtful, passionate, and gripping reading about the world that is coming—that, indeed, is already here—and how to live out your faith with conviction in its midst.

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How to Be a Chris­tian in a Brave New World Copyright © 2006 by Joni Eareckson Tada and Nigel M. de S. Cameron Requests for information should be addressed to: Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Tada, Joni Eareckson. How to be a Christian in a brave new world / Joni Eareckson Tada, Nigel M. de S. Cameron. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-310-25939-8 ISBN-10: 0-310-25939-8 1. Christian life. 2. Bioethics --- Religious aspects --- Christianity. 3. Medical ethics --- Religious aspects --- Christianity. 4. Christian ethics. I. Cameron, Nigel M. de S. II. Title. BV4501.3.T32 2006 241'.6429 --- dc22 2005030455 All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource to you. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the part of Zondervan, nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means --- electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other --- except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. Published in association with the literary agency of Wolgemuth& Associates, Inc. Interior design by Beth Shagene Printed in the United States of America 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 * 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Part One The Brave New World In 1932, English writer Aldous Huxley wrote one of the most famous books of all time, with the strange title Brave New World. The title is a quote from Shakespeare's play The Tempest and suggests both the boldness and the folly of something that looks like a utopia (paradise) even though it much more closely approaches the opposite. Eleven years later, C. S. Lewis wrote a short essay that some people consider the most important thing he ever did. With incredible insight, his work The Abolition of Man looked ahead to the technologies of the twenty-first century and warned that a world that uncritically accepts the wonders of biotech will eventually devastate human dignity. Thus the secular Huxley and the Christian Lewis set the stage for the challenges of the twenty-first century. Some of these challenges still await us; many already are with us. Christians need to be prepared so they can be 'salt and light' in the time and place where God has placed them. Human beings are unique because God made us 'in his image,' as the Bible makes so clear in Genesis 1 and Psalm 8. Reminding ourselves of what it means to be made in God's image is the starting point for understanding what medicine, science, and technology should be used for --- and what they should not. In the last chapter of this section, we need to hear the long-forgotten story of what happened a hundred years ago, when Americans discovered 'eugenics' --- the desire for 'good genes' at all costs --- before the Nazis ever came to power in Germany and took those same ideas to their logical conclusion. We need to remember, because eugenics is making a comeback. Chapter 1 Starting Out Larry On a misty evening in September 2002, Larry drove his eighteen-wheeler into a gas station in a small Arizona town. He hopped out of the cab, started filling his tank, and then walked along the flatbed to check the restraining bands on his huge load of pipes. That's when it happened. A band snapped. Then another. Before he could run, the pipes came crashing down, smothering him under a massive pile. Larry tried to push the large metal cylinders away but couldn't. They not only crushed his lungs and collarbone but his spinal cord. He lay bruised, barely breathing, and unable to move. Three months later, he was sitting in a wheelchair, staring out the window of a nursing home. I heard about Larry when his aunt wrote to ask if I would send him one of my books. She explained that he's now paralyzed from the neck down and trying his best to adjust to his wheelchair, including life in an institution. He's twenty-eight years old, single, and can't speak because of the big ventilator in his neck. Larry, she said, is deeply depressed. I wasted no time in tracking Larry down. When I learned he had a website, I browsed through a handful of emails written by his friends. Most of them came from his beer-drinking buddies and described all the parties he was missing. It was enough to push me further to hunt up Larry's mother. I got her on the phone. 'He's a good boy,' she lamented. 'And this is all so horrible . . . he wishes he weren't so paralyzed so he could end his life. He's desperate to kill himself.' Her words made me shiver. I can understand a desire to kill oneself. I'm a quadriplegic; I understand everything he's going through, from bed baths to bowel programs, from pressure sores to the painful stares from others. Thirty-eight years ago when I broke my neck, I saw no reason to go on either. Back then, I wrenched my neck violently on my pillow at night, hoping to break it at a higher level. I looked forward to the day I would gain enough movement to drive a power wheelchair; then I could drive myself off a curb and into traffic. Only when I realized that I might become brain injured did I drop the idea. I'll bet Larry feels the same way. I'll bet that at night he fights off the claustrophobia, carefully plotting ways he can quietly end his life. If he smokes, I know what he's thinking when he draws on his cigarette, holding the smoke in his lungs: Maybe this way I'll get lung cancer. Yeah, that's a quiet way --- and a sure way --- to end my life. Despair that deep simply devastates. Yet today, things are worse for him than they were for me thirtyseven years ago. Three-and-a-half decades ago, society didn't so quickly assume that a severely injured person makes a rational choice if he ends his life. Fewer doctors bought into the premise, 'You're better off dead than disabled.' No Jack Kevorkians offered to aid me in my death wish; compassion was still something other than three grams of phenobarbital in the veins. Now, in 2005, a ventilator for a severely injured person might be termed 'futile care.' In fact, Larry's institution probably has in place futile care policies; that is, directives that allow doctors to overrule a family's wishes for treatment. Who would ever have thought we would one day call care futile? Larry doesn't care about any of that. He thinks his life is futile. He's convinced he would be better off dead than disabled. He would say, 'What I do with my life is none of your business. I'm entitled to exercise my independence. It's fundamental to what this country is all about. And if they don't soon find a cure for people like me, then I'm out of here!' This man's hell-bent on getting cured --- and if not that, then killed. I took a deep breath and decided to email Larry at his website. I then made a mental list of things I wanted to send him, support I wanted to give, and answers I wanted to help him find --- even new info on possible cures for spinal cord injury. Most of all, I prayed, Oh, Lord, show me how to be a Christian to this man . . . and please give wisdom. Larry, bless his heart, needs wisdom too . . . Brooke Brooke and Travis are the kind of couple you'd run into at Starbucks on a Saturday afternoon. They'd be in their jogging outfits, slouched on a comfortable couch in the corner, sipping lattes and f lipping through the LA Times. Travis works in the movie industry as a computer animation consultant, while Brooke enjoys

Meet the Author

Joni Eareckson Tada es el fundadora del Centro Internacional de Discapacidad Joni y sus amigos, una organizacion con sede en California que promueve el alcance cristiano en la comunidad de discapacitados a nivel mundial (www.joniandfriends.org). En 1967, un accidente durante un salto de clavado dejo cuadriplegica a Joni, pero los anos no fueron desaprovechados. Su siempre profundo amor por la Palabra de Dios ha generado mas de treinta y cinco libros, incluyendo sus exitosos devocionales, Diamantes en el polvo y Mas precioso que la plata. Joni y su esposo, Ken, han estado casados durante veinticuatro anos y tienen su hogar en Calabasas, California.

Nigel M. de S. Cameron, Ph D, a speaker, writer and consultant, is Research Professor of Bioethics at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and President of the Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future (thehumanfuture.org). He is also senior fellow of the Wilberforce Forum, Charles W. Colson's Christian worldview think tank in Washington, D.C., and director of its affiliated Council for Biotechnology Policy (biotechpolicy.org). Dr. Cameron lives in Deerfield, Illinois, with his wife Shenach. They have five children and four grandchildren.

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