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Transcript
The Morality of
Genetic
Modification
History of Underlying
Science
19th century- Gregor Mendel
discovered fundamental laws
of heredity, known now as
Mendelian Genetics.
1952- Hershey and
Chase experiment
determined DNA is the
hereditary molecule
Watson and Crick
discovered the
structure of DNA in
1953
Underlying Science
 19th century- Darwin and Wallace
proposed evolution by natural
selection
 Mutation is natural, speciation is
natural, farmers have always bred
animals and crops…
 Not only does genetic information change
from generation to generation in nature; in
the last half-century humans have
learned how to manipulate it artificially.
 Various techniques for changing the DNA of
organisms; famous bacteriophage
 Scientists can now artificially synthesize
DNA in machines and paste it into living
organisms.
The Catechism of the Catholic
Church

283- the question about the origins of the world
and of man has been the object of many
scientific studies which have splendidly enriched
our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the
cosmos, the development of life-forms and the
appearance of man. These discoveries invite us
to even greater admiration for the greatness of
the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for
all his works and for the understanding and
wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers…

299- …Our human understanding, which shares
in the light of the divine intellect, can
understand what God tells us by means of his
creation, though not without great effort and
only in a spirit of humility and respect before the
Creator and his work…

338- Nothing exists that does not owe its
existence to God the Creator. The world began
when God’s word drew it out of nothingness; all
existent beings, all of nature, and all of human
history are rooted in this primordial event…
 341- The beauty of the universe: The order
and harmony of the created world results
from the diversity of beings and from the
relationships which exist among them. Man
discovers them progressively as the laws of
nature. They call forth the admiration of
scholars…ought to inspire the respect and
submission of man’s intellect and will.
 2415- The seventh commandment enjoins
respect for the integrity of creation…Man’s
dominion over inanimate and other living
beings granted by the Creator is not absolute;
it is limited by concern for the quality of life of
his neighbour, including generations to
come…
Genetics research has gained extensive
knowledge for humans about nature and
specifically about human development and life.
We can foresee genetic disorders in babies
such as;
Huntington’s disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Down
Syndrome, Haemophilia and many more
Would it be moral to genetically modify the genes
responsible for these disorders in humans?
Communion and
Stewardship: Human persons
created in the image of God
 The use of genetic modification to yield a superhuman or being with
essentially new spiritual faculties is unthinkable, given that the spiritual
life principle of man – forming the matter into the body of the human
person – is not a product of human hands and is not subject to genetic
engineering. The uniqueness of each human person, in part
constituted by his biogenetic characteristics and developed through
nurture and growth, belongs intrinsically to him and cannot be
instrumentalized in order to improve some of these characteristics. A
man can only truly improve by realizing more fully the image of God in
him by uniting himself to Christ and in imitation of him. Such
modifications would in any case violate the freedom of future persons
who had no part in decisions that determine his bodily structure and
characteristics in a significant and possibly irreversible way. Gene
therapy, directed to the alleviation of congenital conditions like Down's
syndrome, would certainly affect the identity of the person involved with
regard to his appearance and mental gifts, but this modification would
help the individual to give full expression to his real identity which is
blocked by a defective gene.
Suppose we map the genomes of the most
hopeless criminals ever and find that a
single gene is causing crime. Cutting this
gene out of babies would eliminate crime
in the world, increasing quality of life of all
of society significantly. Would it be moral
to cut that gene out of all babies?
 2416- Animals are God’s creatures…By their
mere existence they bless him and give him
glory. Thus men owe them kindness…
 2417- God entrusted animals to the
stewardship of those whom he created in his
own image. Hence it is legitimate to use
animals for food and clothing. They may be
domesticated to help man in his work and
leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation
on animals, if it remains within reasonable
limits, is a morally acceptable practice since it
contributes to caring for or saving human lives.
Gaudium et Spes, 36
For by the very circumstance of their having
been created, all things are endowed with their
own stability, truth, goodness, proper laws and
order. Man must respect these as he isolates
them by the appropriate methods of the
individual sciences or arts. Therefore if
methodical investigation within every branch of
learning is carried out in a genuinely scientific
manner and in accord with moral norms, it
never truly conflicts with faith, for earthly
matters and the concerns of faith derive from
the same God.