We pray for Christians facing new bioethical challenges; may they continue to defend the dignity of all human life with prayer and action.
Modern physics has learned that under conditions of enormous pressure, the nuclei of hydrogen atoms can fuse into helium and in the process give off remarkable amounts of energy. This energy was first predicted by Einstein’s famous equation, E = mc2. It is the source of the energy that makes the sun and the stars shine. And it is the power behind hydrogen bombs.
You can accept Einstein’s physics and pray that humanity rejects nuclear warfare. But it’s easy to confuse the science of how the universe works with the technology developed from that knowledge. And technology itself is different from the purposes, good or bad, to which it is directed… including the inevitable, unexpected consequences of technology that is used even with the best of intentions.
When we study biology we come close to God, the Creator of all living things. The miracle of life includes not only the fact that life itself exists but the amazing truth that we, ourselves God’s living creations, have been given the ability to understand life and cultivate it. We have the power to cure disease and alleviate suffering. We also have the freedom to abuse that power, using it for selfish ends or withholding it from others out of greed or malice.
Advances in the biological sciences lead to advances in medical technology. But as profound as the efforts of the scientists and doctors is to make those advances, the philosophers, ethicists, and theologians exert a similar effort when they seek to understand that knowledge, how to use it wisely and deal with its consequences. They, too, are under enormous pressures; and they, too, will not always get it right.
They deserve our attention, and our prayers.
Br. Guy Consolmagno SJ
Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ, is the Director of the Vatican Observatory. A native of Detroit, Michigan, he studied planetary sciences at MIT and the University of Arizona. Along with more than 200 scientific publications, he is the author of several popular astronomy books.