Sunday, August 23, 2009

Matters of Life and Death: hope and bioethics at 2009 New College Lectures

As many of you know, I am currently studying at New College in Edinburgh (the window at the bottom left is O'Donovan's office).

But there is another, newer, New College that I have known for longer than this lovely place. And that is New College at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. The latter is an Anglican college that has a strong history of encouraging Christians to think carefully about their faith and their world and this focus is particularly evident in the annual New College lectures. Previous lecturers have included Stanley Hauerwas, Oliver O'Donovan, Anderw Cameron and current Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd back when he was a gleam in the eye of Labor backbenchers. Although I'm not going to be able to make it personally, this year's series on bioethics and hope also looks excellent. Too often bioethics ignores eschatology.

Here is the advertising from New College:

“Our understanding of the future changes the way we think about our ethical responsibilities in the present. The lectures will outline three different conceptions of the future and their implications for bioethics. The secular perspective derived from the Enlightenment sees the future as a human construct, an artefact created by human ingenuity. In contrast, the neoplatonic future offers the hope of an escape from the material world into the timeless realm of the spirit. The biblical view of the future provides a third radical perspective. The future is not a human artefact; it is a reflection of the loving purposes of God. Yet the physical nature of our humanity is not obliterated, it is affirmed and vindicated. For Christians, future hope lies not in being released from our physical bodies, but in becoming the people we were meant to be.”

- John Wyatt

Informed by a biblical understanding of God’s purposes the New College lectures, will consider the bioethical issues that we face every day as we make decisions about creating, preserving and protecting life. Professor Wyatt is Professor of Ethics and Perinatology, the Institute for Women’s Health, University College London. He has a long-standing interest in the philosophical, ethical and religious issues raised by advances in medical technology. He is author of the widely acclaimed book Matters of Life and Death, published by InterVarsity Press.

Tuesday 8th September | Bioethics and creation
How do different conceptions of the origins of the cosmos impact on current bioethical debates? What does creation order imply about reproductive technology, parenthood, and the intrinsic value of human life?

6.15 pm The John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW, Drinks & Canapés, lecture to follow from 7.15pm, question time and supper to follow the lectures

Wednesday 9th September | Bioethics and redemption
The minimization of suffering is central to the moral vision of utilitarianism. How does the Easter story transform perceptions of suffering and how does this impact on current bioethical controversies about assisted suicide, euthanasia, ageing and degenerative diseases?

7.30pm Main Common Room, New College, UNSW, question time and supper to follow the lectures

Thursday 10th September | Bioethics and future hope
The Enlightenment project aims to create better humans by the use of technology. How should we respond? What are the implications of the Christian hope for bioethics? How should we treat our patients now in the light of the future?

7.30pm Main Common Room, New College, UNSW, question time and supper to follow the lectures

Entrance is free. Booking is essential and must be made by 4th September.

For further information, including to book, please contact New College Reception, (02) 9381 1999, newcollege@unsw.edu.au, or visit the New College Lectures Home Page.