Original Research

Synthetic biology ethically evaluated: The creating God and co-creating human

Riaan Rheeder
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 48, No 1 | a723 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v48i1.723 | © 2014 Riaan Rheeder | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 April 2013 | Published: 14 August 2014

About the author(s)

Riaan Rheeder, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campu, South Africa


God did not create once and then put an end to it. Testimony from Scripture shows that God continuously establishes or creates new things. Humans can therefore expect to always see and experience new things in creation. With this pattern of reasoning, one can anticipate that the human being as image of God will continuously establish new things in history. Although nature has value, it does not have absolute value and therefore it can be synthesised responsibly. The thought that humans are stewards of God is no longer adequate to, theologically put into words, the relationship human beings have with nature. New biotechnological developments ask for different answers from Scripture. Several ethicists are of the opinion that the theological construction of humans and created co-creators can help found the relationship of the human being to nature. Humans developed as God’s image evolutionary. On the one hand, this means humans themselves are a product of nature. On the other hand, the fact that humans are the image of God is also an ethical call that humans, like God, have to develop and create new things throughout history. Synthetic biology can be evaluated as technology that is possible, because humans are the image of God. However, it should, without a doubt, be executed responsibly.

Sintetiese biologie eties geëvalueer: Die skeppende God en medeskeppende mens. God het nie net eenmaal geskep en daar gestop nie. Uit Skrifgetuienisse kan afgelei word dat God voortdurend nuwe dinge tot stand bring of skep. Daarom kan die mens verwag om gedurig nuwe dinge in die skepping te sien en te beleef. Hiermee saam kan verwag word dat die mens as beeld van God voortdurend nuwe dinge in die geskiedenis tot stand sal bring. Alhoewel die natuur waarde het, het dit nie absolute waarde nie en kan dus verantwoordelik gesintetiseer word. Die gedagte dat die mens rentmeester van God is, is nie meer voldoende om die mens se verhouding tot die natuur teologies te verwoord nie. Nuwe biotegnologiese ontwikkelinge vra na ander antwoorde vanuit die Skrif. Verskeie etici is van mening dat die teologiese konstruksie van die mens as geskepte medeskepper kan help om die mens se verhouding tot die natuur te begrond. Die mens het deur ’n evolusionêre proses tot God se beeld ontwikkel. Aan die een kant beteken dit dat die mens self ’n produk van die natuur is. Aan die ander kant is beeldskap ook ’n etiese oproep dat die mens, soos God, nuwe dinge in die geskiedenis moet ontwikkel en skep. Sintetiese biologie kan gesien word as tegnologie wat moontlik is omdat die mens na die beeld van God geskape is. Sonder twyfel moet sintetiese biologie egter verantwoordelik beoefen word.


Sinthetic biology


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