Re: [asa] What is life?

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Mon Aug 20 2007 - 10:42:16 EDT

Ted Peters specially has emphasized that the phrase "playing God" is not very helpful. To quote him:

It will be my position that the phrase "playing God?" has very little cognitive value when looked at from the perspective of a theologian. Its primary role is that of a warning, such as the word "stop." In common parlance it has come to mean just that: stop. Within the gene myth it means that we should stop trying to engineer DNA. Theologically, however, there is at best only minimum warrant for using this phrase in such a conservative and categorical way.[i]


[i]. Ted Peters, Playing God? Genetic Determinism and Human Freedom (Routledge, New York, 1997), p.2.

(By "the gene myth" he means the idea that we are completely defined by our genes.)

I would add -

1) Although the phrase is certainly less than ideal, there is a sense in which we are supposed to "play God." I.e., as Gen.1:28 (& also Ps.115:16) indicate, we are to represent God in caring for creation.

2) It's essential to understand what God we are to "play." Patterning our activity on that of Christ - & that of the human race on the Trinity - is very different from playing the Cosmic President for Life who is the popular notion of God.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Christine Smith" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, August 20, 2007 9:01 AM
Subject: [asa] What is life?

I found this article
in the Houston Chronicle very interesting,
particularly some of the following quotes:

"We are doing things which were thought to be the
province, in some quarters, of God - like making new
forms of life," Bedau said in a phone interview from
Venice. "Life is very powerful, and if we can get it
to do what we want ... there are all kinds of good
things that can be done."

On its face, this seems to me to be
unethical--creating new life forms so we can make it
do what we want? Sounds like we're on a power trip?
Isn't the value of life not found in its utility
(although every lifeform does something useful), but
in its very being/existence?

"Playing God is a good thing to do as long as you're
doing it responsibly," he said."

Is it? And if so, can humans conceivably be trusted to
do it "responsibly", given our belief that humanity is
sinful by nature? Should we avoid pushing this
envelope of R & D until our wisdom and/or laws has a
chance to catch up with our knowledge?

Just some questions off the top of my head--back to
work for me!

In Christ,

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Received on Mon Aug 20 10:43:32 2007

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