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A Glass Darkly

Medicine and Theology in Further Dialogue


Edited By D. Gareth Jones and R. John Elford

This book is a sequel to the first volume of New International Studies in Applied Ethics and includes essays from some of the same contributors. Like the previous volume, the book explores the interface between medicine and theology. The essays demonstrate the complementarity evident between the two and examine how those coming from different theological traditions are able to provide helpful insights. Points of disagreement, and their crucial role in contributing to an understanding of the complexities of the debate, are acknowledged.
Much of the discussion focuses on use of the Bible. The contributors show an awareness of the pastoral necessity of providing access to new medical technologies for those in need. Out of this emerges a positive view of some of the human benefits of modern medicine and the ways in which Christian theology can engage with it constructively. The discussion throughout is related to the wider literature in the field.


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Part One: The Problem and the Resources 7


Part One The Problem and the Resources D. Gareth Jones The Biomedical Technologies: Prospects and Challenges Is Medicine Out of Control? As I contemplate the burgeoning powers and promises of medicine the urgency of this question stares me in the face. Is medicine out of control? Is it leading the human race down a path of destruction and self-immolation? Should we now regard the hopes that once accompanied medical progress as nothing more than remnants of an idealistic past as its character has been dramatically transformed? In short, the Christian drivers that led to the establishment of hospitals and overcame social deprivation have been replaced by a secular humanistic worldview intent on lauding biological quality and longevity at the expense of care for the disadvantaged and disabled. These considerations are serious enough by themselves, and they make for good polemical debate. How easy it is for academic types to sit back and pontificate on the rights and wrongs of these trends, and especially within a Christian context to abhor what are viewed as the downward moral spiral brought about by the pretensions of clinicians and scientists. Theologians and theological ethicists would never go down such paths; they are far more cautious and are acutely aware of the ill-fated hubris represented by such endeavours! In making statements like this, I am oversimplifying in order to make a point. There are exceptions on both sides, and yet the science-faith divide is frequently only a small distance beneath the surface of the rhetoric....

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