Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Views of Orthodox Theology on Bioethical Issues (6 of 6)


...continued from part five.

7. General Biotheological Principles

According to Aristotle, man “by nature has a desire to know”. If this applies to every field of human knowledge, it applies even more to the mystery of life. Human beings have always been preoccupied with the question of what life is, how life begins, who gave them life, what existed before their conception, where they were before, and what the meaning of life is. It is striking that from the beginning of their lives children are interested in these questions. However, such questions frequently arise at any age and at critical times, in adolescence, middle age and old age, as well as in extreme life-or-death situations.

Today, with the combination of technology and medicine, it is possible for human beings to investigate these serious questions, particularly about what happens as soon as they are conceived and how they lived in their mother’s womb from the moment of conception. The problem is basically theological.

A few brief but crucial theological responses on bioethical and related issues are set out below.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Views of Orthodox Theology on Bioethical Issues (5 of 6)


...continued from part four.

6. Biomedical and Medical Research

1) From the views of various scientists, researchers and specialists in biomedical and medical research connected with patents, biobanks and clinical trials, it is clear that all research is implicated in different forms of interdependence with corporations and research centers. These things are not as natural as some people claim. Apart from some well-disposed researchers motivated by an interest in dealing with problems afflicting humankind, there are others who place all research in the context of vested interests and commercial gain. There is a difference between scientists in the past and those of recent times, because corporations and universities complicate the issues.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Views of Orthodox Theology on Bioethical Issues (4 of 6)


...continued from part three.

5. Biotechnology and the Environment

1) The universe was created by God and He is the Lord of the world. The one who creates something also has power over it. The Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, created the angels first, then the material creation, and finally man, who is made up of spiritual and material elements (soul and body), and is the microcosm of the entire universe. The kingdom was created, and then the king was created to enter it.

2) Human beings reign over creation; they are rulers of creation by God’s command. They cultivate creation and manage it with God’s special permission and authorization, so they are not able to appropriate it for themselves. Although they manage it they must not usurp it. This means that their jurisdiction is limited and they cannot behave as God, but as God’s stewards and managers who have been authorized by Him. Arrogance has consequences both for human beings themselves and for nature.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Views of Orthodox Theology on Bioethical Issues (3 of 6)


...continued from part two.

4. The End of Biological Life

a) Euthanasia

The Church faces the issue of euthanasia from the Orthodox perspective that we saw earlier, when we identified the way in which the Church handles other bioethical problems. Four important points will be mainly emphasized here.

1) Life was given to human beings by God, so it is God’s gift to humankind. This means that God alone, not man, has exclusive rights over life. God has power over life, and He takes life when the right time comes. A human being is not entitled to take his life, as he is not the cause of life.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Views of Orthodox Theology on Bioethical Issues (2 of 6)


...continued from part one.

3. Prolongation of Biological Life

a) Blood Transfusions

1) Man’s soul is the spiritual element of his existence which, together with the body, constitutes the whole human being. The blood is part of the bodily organism and is not, of course, identified with the soul. According to St Gregory Palamas, “The soul is everywhere in the body.” As essence it is in the heart as in an organ, and as energy it is in the whole body. In Holy Scripture the word ‘soul’ is used with many meanings. Sometimes it denotes the spiritual element of human existence, sometimes it describes the human being, and sometimes it means life. Thus in some cases it is written that animals also have a soul, in other words, life. In human beings the soul has essence (nous and free will) and energy, whereas in animals it only has energy, which is why they act by feeling and instinct. There are passages in the Old Testament in which the soul is equated with blood, for instance, “The soul of all flesh is in its blood” (Lev. 17:11) and “Be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the soul” (Deut. 12:23). Here the word ‘soul’ means life (and is translated as ‘life’ in English versions of the Old Testament), because blood is the basic element that constitutes and sustains life.