Right or Wrong? Bioethics and ‘playing God’

3d render of a DNA spirals

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3-D laser printers produce human tissue. Surgeons implant ears, noses and other tissues. But I haven’t heard serious biblical and theological discussion of these advances. Have we moved to yet another stage of “playing God”? Can you help me form an opinion about this technology?

Questions concerning the use of new technology, particularly in the field of healing, remain complex. These questions revolve around the central ideas of “should we do something simply because we can” and the tension between dominion and humility.

For many Christians, technological advances remind them of the Tower of Babel experience described in Genesis 11. With technology comes the temptation to use it to “make a name for ourselves” and to usurp the power, authority and will of God.

Opponents of using this technology are quick to point to Psalm 139. The argument is God creates us just the way he wants us; and thus using technology to interfere in this creation is “playing God.”

Healing in Jesus’ ministry

Proponents prefer to reference the healing ministry of Jesus. They particularly reference to the fact Jesus includes “recovery of sight for the blind” in Luke 4 as one of the specific ministries he came to fulfill.

These arguments resurface with each major development in medical technology. Whether it is development of artificial limbs, the artificial heart, organ transplants, skin grafts or now 3-D laser tissue, the question remains, “Have we gone too far?”

The Tower of Babel experience does indicate it is possible for us to exceed our authority and usurp the power of God. Babel also demonstrates, however, God is completely prepared to stop any such intrusion before it gets out of hand. In that sense, faith insists God keeps final control over these matters.

More significance applies to the healing ministry of Jesus. The fact we need healing is a direct result of the sin and fallen nature of our world. Jesus came to provide healing as a solution to this fallen nature. Often, he used physical healing as a direct metaphor for the spiritual healing he came to provide.

Opportunities for good

Developing technology continues to offer new opportunities to deliver goodness and mercy to a hurting world. The Christian community bears the right and responsibility to capture these opportunities for the cause of Christ. Taken properly, as in the words of Micah 6:8 to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God, these technological advances provide an opening to share the love of God with people in the same manner Jesus himself did.

Rather than fearing the development of technology, Christianity bears the responsibility of using it for the glory and honor of God. Instead of “playing God,” we face an opportunity to bear witness of what he has come to do.

Van Christian, pastor

First Baptist Church



Right or Wrong? is co-sponsored by the Texas Baptist theological education office and Christian Life Commission. Send your questions about how to apply your faith to bill.tillman@texasbaptists.org.

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