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BRAVE NEW WORLD? Theology, ethics and the human genome

by
02 November 2006

iStock

by Celia Deane-Drummond, editor

 

T. & T. Clark £25 (0-567-08936-3)

Church Times Bookshop £22.50

 

“GENOME” refers to the genes of a particular species. In the year 2000, five years ahead of schedule, the Human Genome Project (HGP) produced a first draft of the sequence of the genes in our species.

 

Some people were miffed to hear that we have 30,000 genes (only twice as many as some worms) instead of the expected 100,000.

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But genes represent a recipe, not a blueprint. They interact with other genes, with the proteins for which they code, with the environment of the human body, and with the wider environment that we create. If you watched a play with 30,000 actors, you would have to concentrate.

 

Brave New World? looks at some of the theology and ethics of our new knowledge: one of the 14 contributors, Julie Clague, coins the word “genomorality”.

 

I was encouraged by the fact that so many (not all of them contributors to this book) now work at the cutting edges of theology and science. Only recently, you could count them on the fingers of one hand.

 

Celia Deane-Drummond, who has a chair in theology and the biological sciences, is the editor. She gives a general introduction and a postscript, together with introductions to six sections of several chapters each.

 

Readers who do not have some appropriate scientific background will find Brave New World? difficult. They might like to start with Deane-Drummond’s Biology and Theology Today (SCM,

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