Re: [asa] What is life?

From: Terry M. Gray <>
Date: Mon Aug 20 2007 - 14:05:03 EDT


I have to concur with George and David. Most of this comes under the
cultural mandate, where, indeed, we are called to be God's stewards,
exercising our "dominion" over the creation (and for the creation)
for His glory.

Is synthesizing new forms of matter "playing God"?
Is building Mount Rushmore "playing God"?
How about paving most of the farmland in the Chicago suburbs? Is that
"playing God"?
How about making eye-glasses or performing Lasik surgery?
How about treating disease? (There are some Christian traditions who
say that God alone heals and that medical interventions are a sign of

I'm not convinced that biology is any different. Animal/plant
breeding for agricultural purposes has been going on for millennia.

Of course, this is not to say that we shouldn't reflect seriously on
the ethics of what we do or try to do. I think that's what Bedeau is
saying (even without knowing his philosophical or theological
perspective) when he calls us to "playing God" responsibly.


On Aug 20, 2007, at 7:01 AM, Christine Smith wrote:

> 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,
> Christine
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Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801

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Received on Mon Aug 20 14:05:35 2007

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