Scientists grounded in faith need to face bio-ethical questions

Chancey Thompson (left) talks with science students at Wayland Baptist University. Thompson, a Wayland graduate, works as a technical specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. (PHOTO/ Wayland Baptist University)

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PLAINVIEW—As medical capabilities continue to expand, scientists grounded in faith need to enter the field to deal with tough bio-ethical questions, a technical specialist at the Mayo Clinic told science students at Wayland Baptist University.

“A lot of bio-ethical questions can be solved by looking into God’s character,” Chancey Thompson, a 2006 Wayland graduate, said during the School of Mathematics and Sciences’ homecoming lecture series.

wayland thompson talk400Wayland Baptist University senior science student Trevor Burrow (left) visits with Chancey Thompson, a Wayland graduate and technical specialist with the Mayo Clinic. (PHOTO/ Wayland Baptist University)Thompson challenged students to consider the kinds of issues biomedical researchers and practitioners face. He asked them to suppose they could play God and had the ability to predispose the physical characteristics of an unborn baby whose parents were deaf and who wanted their baby to be born deaf.

“Would that be ethical?” he asked.

While the class reached a consensus that action would be unethical, he raised another question:

“Is organ donation ethical?” To provoke discussion, he asked if organ donation might also be considered “playing God” by postponing an individual’s inevitable death.

Real-life issues

Bio-ethicists wrestle with those kinds of real-life issues regularly, Thompson explained.

The genetic counseling field, in particular, needs scientific specialists grounded in faith-based principles to help patients and doctors understand the implications of the treatments that are possible now and that will become available in the future.

Thompson acknowledged he had no idea what he wanted to do once he arrived as a student at Wayland, but he soon found joy and fulfillment in scientific study. He learned his interest in science and his faith could complement each other.

“To me, it made the most sense to study God’s design, because it is everywhere,” he said.

Thompson noted his professors at Wayland prepared him to compete with students from other universities both in graduate classrooms and in the workplace, not only by giving him knowledge and training, but also helping him develop critical thinking skills.

‘Solid preparation’

Wayland also provided solid preparation to become Christian witnesses in a secular environment, Marianne Thompson added. As she pursued her degree in interdisciplinary studies at Wayland, she dreamed of serving as a missionary.

When she and her husband moved to Rochester, Minn., a city dominated by what she referred to as “Mother Mayo,” she realized her wish had come true.

As Chancey Thompson works professionally with other scientists and medical specialists, he has the opportunity to bring a Christian perspective to the workplace. As Marianne Thompson works and lives in a city where evangelical Christians are in the minority, she has the opportunity to present a positive Christian witness.

“We feel like in some ways we are on a mission field,” she said.

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