Big idea: The Bible gives us a moral toolkit we can use to approach ethical questions in science and technology.
Ready for Impact (15 mins)
Take time to welcome any newcomers and catch up on the past week (over drinks or snacks if possible).
Pray a short prayer, asking for the wisdom and insight to have a helpful discussion that informs our lives on campus.
Watch: Christian bioethicist Prof John Bryant answer the question ‘Does a Christian believer have any special claim to ethical insight?’
Discuss: How can we have ethical discussions in a way that is respectful to those who have different views to us?
Impacted by the Word, part 1 (15 mins)
What does it mean to be human? Christians call it ‘being made in the image of God’.
Read Genesis 1:26-28, then watch the following video on the image of God:
Discuss: what do you think it means to be human? What is the image of God all about?
Impacted by the Word, part 2 (15 mins)
Divide into pairs and share out these passages:
- Genesis 1:26–27
- Galatians 3:26–29; Romans 12:4–8
- Mark 12:31; Philippians 2:3–4
- Deuteronomy 10:18
- Matthew 25:31–46
- Psalm 127:3–4
Read, then discuss: what principles about humankind relating to each other can you draw from the passage?
Share your main conclusions with the group.
Impacting Our Hearts (15 mins)
Choose one of the case studies to read aloud, then then use your ethical toolkit to discuss what action you would hope to take if you were in a similar situation. (You could do this in pairs then feed back if you have time).
Case study A
A friend who knows you are scientist and a Christian asks for your advice. They are hoping to start a family, but know they have a 50% chance of having a child with a genetic disease that brings suffering and death in infancy. They have private health insurance through a work benefit scheme. The options available to them are:
a) not having children of their own, but helping other families with childcare
c) natural conception with plans in place to care for any affected children
d) natural conception with selective abortion
e) IVF with preimplantation genetic testing and selective destruction of affected embryos
f) IVF with targeted gene editing of affected embryos
(N.B. option f) is not safe or legal anywhere in the world right now but may be in future).
What advice would you offer?
Case study B
A teenager in your church has become dependent on ChatGPT as their friend and counsellor. Their youth leader is disturbed to discover that this person spends 4 or 5 hours a day conversing with various AI bots. When she brings it up with the young person she discovers that several others in the group are also using AI tools as friends and advisers. Most worryingly, that they seem to prefer conversation with a bot since it is not only anonymous and non-judgmental, but gives good advice and seems sound theologically.
The youth leader feels undermined since her experience and knowledge seems to be surpassed by the AI bots, but also worried about the impacts AI might have on these young adults. She comes to you for advice. How can she gently but convincingly explain that a relationship with AI is not a replacement for a relationship with a person?
If time, discuss: what are some of the ethical questions in your field of science that you'd like to think about further as a Christian?
Thank everyone for coming and ask someone to thank God for your time together in prayer.
See you soon!
If you want to explore this week's topic further, take a look at:
What is ethics?
Matters of Life and Death, John Wyatt
The Robot Will See You Now, various
The Faraday Institute collections on bioethics and AI
Also, if any of the topics so far provoked a lot of questions for the group, you might want to ask the Science Network Coordinator to recommend a speaker to come in and do a Q&A session.