6.24 Can human embryos be used to save lives? What is bioethics? Is artificial intelligence a blessing or a danger? What do you think about transhumanism?
The Catholic view on bioethics – the ethics of life – can help a lot when making moral decisions. Human life is infinitely desired by God (Gen 2:7). It is to be treasured and protected at every stage, from conception to natural death. Embryos are human beings with the same fundamental rights as anyone. Noone should be allowed to kill an embryo, not even if this can save many lives. Using dead embryos is often comparable to the donation of organs after death.
Artificial Intelligence can do much to improve the quality of life. Great care should be taken in discerning the limits of what is acceptable. However intelligent a robot can become, it will never be a human being, and cannot morally replace human interaction in every case. Transhumanism as a philosophy searches to create a better version of humankind, which goes against our faith that God created us good (Gen 1:27.31).
Why must human life be respected?
Human life must be respected because it is sacred. From its beginning human life involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. It is not lawful for anyone directly to destroy an innocent human being. This is gravely contrary to the dignity of the person and the holiness of the Creator. “Do not slay the innocent and the righteous” (Exodus 23:7) [CCCC 466].
Why must society protect every embryo?
The inalienable right to life of every human individual from the first moment of conception is a constitutive element of civil society and its legislation. When the State does not place its power at the service of the rights of all and in particular of the more vulnerable, including unborn children, the very foundations of a State based on law are undermined [CCCC 472].
Are the transplant and donation of organs allowed before and after death?
The transplant of organs is morally acceptable with the consent of the donor and without excessive risks to him or her. Before allowing the noble act of organ donation after death, one must verify that the donor is truly dead [CCCC 476].
Digital innovation touches every aspect of our lives... Inequalities expand enormously; knowledge and wealth accumulate in a few hands with grave risks for democratic societies. Yet these dangers must not detract from the immense potential that new technologies offer… A critical contribution can be made by the principles of the Church’s social teaching [Pope Francis, To the Pontifical Academy for Life, 28 Feb. 2020].