Baby newborn

Bioethics & Future Hope

Bioethics & Future Hope

Our understanding of the future changes the way we think about our ethical responsibilities in the present. These lectures outlined three different conceptions of the future and their implications for bioethics. The secular perspective derived from the Enlightenment sees the future as a human construct, an artefact created by human ingenuity. In contrast, the neoplatonic future offers the hope of an escape from the material world into the timeless realm of the spirit. The biblical view of the future provides a third radical perspective. The future is not a human artefact; it is a reflection of the loving purposes of God. Yet the physical nature of our humanity is not obliterated, it is affirmed and vindicated. For Christians, future hope lies not in being released from our physical bodies, but in becoming the people we were meant to be.

The 2009 New College Lectures offered a Christian perspective on the impact of technology on contemporary medical practices. Informed by a biblical understanding of God’s purposes Dr Wyatt (Professor of Ethics and Perinatology, Institute for Women’s Health, University College London) considered and discussed the bioethical issues that we face every day as we make decisions about creating, preserving and protecting life.

Professor John Wyatt

John Wyatt is Professor of Ethics and Perinatology, Institute for Women’s Health, University College London. He has supervised a range of research projects including the use of new methods of optical brain scanning in babies and research on pre-term and brain-injured infants. He has a long-standing interest in philosophical, ethical and religious issues raised by advances in medical technology. He is author of the widely acclaimed book Matters of Life and Death, published by InterVarsity Press.

Tuesday 8 September | Bioethics and creation

How do different conceptions of the origins of the cosmos impact on current bioethical debates? What does creation order imply about reproductive technology, parenthood, and the intrinsic value of human life?

Wednesday 9 September | Bioethics and redemption

The minimisation of suffering is central to the moral vision of utilitarianism. How does the Easter story transform perceptions of suffering and how does this impact on current bioethical controversies about assisted suicide, euthanasia, ageing and degenerative diseases?

Thursday 10 September | Bioethics and future hope

The Enlightenment project aims to create better humans by the use of technology. How should we respond? What are the implications of the Christian hope for bioethics? How should we treat our patients now in the light of the future?