As debate over the manipulation of human genes rages in the public sphere, James Peterson offers an informed Christian defense of genetic intervention. In Changing Human Nature
he pointedly reminds us that the question we need most to consider is not whether our genes will undergo change but whether we will be conscious of and conscientious about the direction of that change.
Drawing from the biblical tradition, Peterson argues that human beings have a unique capacity and calling to tend and develop the natural world -- including themselves, their bodies, and their genes -- as God's garden. While carefully addressing legitimate religious concerns, Peterson's theologically grounded yet jargon-free discussion puts forth clear and specific guidelines for the proper use of genetic intervention to help people.
Distinctive for its nuanced approach, Changing Human Nature
will fill the need for a thoughtful, positive Christian perspective on this timely topic.
David P. Gushee
— Mercer University
"Perhaps the most important contribution of this book is Peterson's retrieval of a strand of Christian theology that focuses on the human task to sustain, restore, and improve the conditions of our incomplete and damaged creation — including humans as part of creation — rather than to accept as God-given the state of the creation as we find it today. . . Opens new terrain in bioethics for evangelical Christians. . . One doesn't have to agree with every move Peterson makes here to recognize the great significance of this book for the current debate."
"Many books of late argue either the incoherence of religious belief in a scientific age or that faith is a rational way to seek meaning in the world. Peterson's work is a refreshing alternative. Committed to both Christianity and Western science, he argues that scientific research with its potential to shape the world is 'part of the God-given mandate for human beings to share in the redemption and development of creation.' Shaping the world can include changing our genetic makeup. So Peterson carefully examines the ethical concerns about genetic intervention raised by philosophers, theologians, and bioethicists (e.g., does the change affect one person, or is it passed on to descendants?) and then proposes four standards that must be met before an intervention can proceed. This is a thoughtful work that demonstrates that religious faith in general and the historic Christian tradition in particular can not only coexist synergistically with science but also make a positive contribution to addressing the ethical questions scientific research engenders."