Thomas Aquinas, Scientist: How Might He Approach 21st Century Biotechnology

Nov 12, 2008
University of Chicago
5801 S Ellis Ave
Chicago, IL 60637
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Stephen MeredithUniversity of Chicago

Despite flaws in his biology, Aquinas' writings offer us guidance in our approach to 21st century biotechnology. Aquinas' notion of a Just War provides us with a way for thinking about biotechnology, since both use morally ambiguous means to address evils in an imperfect world. A comparison of these two disparate issues can yield criteria for an ethics of biotechnology. 

Stephen Meredith is Professor in the Departments of Pathology, Neurology, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Chicago, where he also teaches courses on literature, philosophy, and theology. He works on the biophysics of protein structure, concentrating on amyloid proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases. He also teaches courses in the College on James Joyce’s Ulysses, St. Thomas Aquinas, Augustine’s City of God, and other authors, particularly Dostoevsky and Thomas Mann. His main theological interest is in the problem of evil, and in this connection, he is currently writing a book on the philosophical and literary perspectives on disease. His current interests also center on the impact of biotechnology and the genetic revolution on the definition of human nature.