In the Service of Human Life
Tree on a hill on a starry night
Applied Bioethics in stylized text
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In the Service of Human Life

Religion & Bioethics

We’re all at fault for our polarized culture. In public and private debate, we retreat with haste to ad hominem attacks and identity politics, arguing against a point (or a person) instead of strongly advocating for our own view. One of most effective tactics is to claim that the opposing party is attempting to impose their religious beliefs on another. That argument is disingenuous on its face, because in all debate, one party hopes to convince the other of the merits of their worldview.

Without equivocation, Applied Bioethics pulls heavily from the Catholic intellectual tradition. The Church’s position on the dignity of the human person and the universal respect that it deserves is unimpeachable. Throughout its history, there have been individuals, even high ranking ones, who have fallen short of fulfilling that vision. Despite these personal failings, the Church has never wavered. That consistence lends confidence in this solid ethical foundation.

Every human person has an innate dignity and that dignity shall not be abridged by any person, government, or institution.

That’s a statement that most people would accept. It seems to embrace the utopian society that we all hope to build. Does it lessen our agreement if the Catholic Church also espouses that principle? The Church broadens that statement considerably, applying it to all human life from conception to natural death. That expansion creates conflict and discord with people who want to pigeon-hole the definition of life to serve their purposes. Therefore, it must a religious belief being imposed on them and can be rejected out of hand.

The fact that a bioethical standard is accepted and promoted by a religion, institutionalized or otherwise, does not lessen its importance, relevance, or veracity. Indeed, when it comes to the human person, we should apply protections and deference as broadly as possible. Rejecting a bioethical analysis on its face simply because it appears to have had a religious influence is simpleminded. Examine the underpinnings and arguments, build a solid basis using logic, and then draw a conclusion.