About the theme:
Since the launch of the Human Genome Project in 1990, scientists are now able to read the entire human genome (2003), and are developing increasingly precise technologies for editing the genome, such as Crispr-cas9 (2012). With over 10,000 human diseases caused by faults in single genes, gene editing techniques promise therapies for curing such diseases, as well as the potential elimination of these diseases through germline gene editing. Such techniques, however, have potential applications beyond therapy to enhancement, raising a plethora of ethical concerns.
What role does genetic information play in how we define health and future possibilities? What is the significance of epigenetics? Is gene editing for therapeutic purposes a moral responsibility to those who suffer from genetic diseases, and for preventing the suffering of future generations? What are the boundaries between therapy and enhancement? Does the knowledge and possibility of editing the human genome necessitate that we act upon this? Gene-editing technologies carry risks and potential harms, some of which may be unknown for decades to come. How can we ensure that the field of genetics is mindful of the dark history and potential of eugenics? Where should such discussions take place and who needs to contibute to the dialogue?
In the context of faith, what are the benefits, harms and risks that ought to be considered when navigating the field of genetics and making choices on what gene editing has to offer? What distinct ethico-legal, theological and philosophical concerns have Muslim religious scholars raised in their deliberations on gene editing technologies, and how does an understanding of the human person impact our aspirations for genetic modifications for improving the human species? Are we playing God or is this the next step in our evolution?
Dr Aysha Divan (University of Leeds)
Dr Ayman Shabana (Georgetown University, Qatar)
Mufti Zubair Butt (Al-Qalam, Bradford Hospital Chaplain)
Dr Ismail Lala (University of Oxford, Darul Uloom, Bury)
Arzoo Ahmed (CIM, King’s College London)
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