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'Fearfully and Wonderfully Made': excerpts

Dec. 13, 2006

NEW YORK (UMNS) -- Here are some excerpts from "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Policy on Human Biotechnologies," adopted by the National Council of Churches at its 2006 General Assembly:

Faith and science

From our Christian point of view, science is understood to be the exploration of the created world, the measure and analysis of the material world in as wide a framework as possible. Inasmuch as we are responsible for tending Godís creation, scientific endeavor is proper for a Christian because one should know as much as one can about what one is responsible for. Problems arise when the results of scientific investigations are misinterpreted or misused...

...Biotechnologies, like all human endeavors, stand under the judgment of God. From our faith perspective, we seek then to raise questions on behalf of human well-being as we approach biotechnologies with the potential they bring for human advancement.

Biotechnologies and ethics

How Christians and churches make ethical assessments reflects who we are as a people and what the Church is called to be, believe, think and do in the world. Our understanding of God shapes our moral life. What we believe about God, the cosmos, and ourselves raises profound moral questions about life and death and directs us from belief to values to concrete imperatives for action... In short, how we deal with genetic issues impacts our life together and our life for others - our very faithfulness as Church is at stake in this strange new world.

Pastoral care

Individuals and families are faced with ever-increasing possibilities to shape life through the use of biotechnologies. This challenges pastors to adapt traditional roles and skills to a growing variety of places and times where people struggle with the questions of faith that may arise, or with how to apply their own faith and belief to the decisions they face.

Stem cell research

Perhaps no area related to human applications of biotechnologies is more divisive within the Christian community at present than the matter of stem cell research.

The churches of the National Council of Churches support the pursuit of medical research that may result in alleviating human suffering, and even possible cures, but hold differing strong opinions about the morality of human embryonic stem cell research. As a result of a lack of clear consensus, the National Council of Churches neither endorses nor condemns experimentation on human embryos and takes no position on the use of human embryonic stem cells for research purposes.

We are, however, in agreement in our recognition of the irreducible sanctity of human life, as well as the intrinsic moral and ethical good inherent in efforts to reduce human suffering through medical science.

Perception of disability

...(B)iotechnology becomes profoundly disquieting to many with disabilities when disabling conditions or predictions are equated with lifelong suffering, imperfections or disease. When those personal and social values are combined with the power of technology to prevent the birth of a child with a disability or defect, the possibility of a new eugenics fueled by social values, market forces, and personal choice, rather than official policy, becomes quite real.

Conduct of the biotechnology industry

In a world of poverty, wars, and hunger, a wise balancing and use of limited resources for the basic necessities of life must temper our advancement of research and consumption of newly available biotechnologies.

New genetics or old eugenics?

Among the most disturbing implications of the emerging biotechnologies are the various potential applications that are likely to provoke or exacerbate social tension and injustice.

The fabric of the commonweal and the future

The emerging era of biotechnological discovery that now seems poised to usher in a revolution in human medical innovation will no doubt also inspire the Church to articulate new understandings of what it means to be human, Godís own, and stewards of Godís creation.

The entire document can be downloaded at on the NCC Web site.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or

Interview with Clare Chapman:
"We are pleased with this policy."
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