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On June 26, 2000, scientists Francis Collins and J. Craig Venter joined Bill Clinton at the White House for the stunning announcement that researchers had mapped 90 percent of the genes on the human genome, which contains codes for all inherited characteristics. The President declared, "Today, we are learning the language in which God created life."

Humanity will spend much of the 21st century attempting to speak that language. A fast-developing biotech vocabulary—genetic therapy, stem cells, reproductive cloning, and so on—strains the ability of even the most thoughtful to keep up. Human life may soon be changed dramatically, and Christians must participate in the international conversation about these changes before they become irreversible.

The Christian faith has the potential to serve not just the church but the world by penetrating the fog of current events to discern their deeper meaning—and to offer clear-headed analysis amid growing confusion.

Opposing Forces


Long-established forces threaten to crowd out the voice of faith:

Market forces. The sprawling biotech industry, already doing $80 billion in business in the United States alone, would not be awash in money were there not a demand for its innovations. These products and services include stem cells, gene therapies and enhancements, and, one day, perhaps soon, clones. Biotech firms promise what people want—health, pain relief, reproduction, longevity, success.

Thus far they do so with little public regulation or control, one of the most troubling features of our new era—unlike the nuclear weapons challenge posed last century, harrowing as that was. Then government policy threatened humanity; today, corporate interests do.

Moral fragmentation. A morally fragmented nation ...

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A Matter of Life and Death
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In the Magazine

October 1, 2001

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