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Science and philosophy defer to reason. Bioethics should as well.

Governing authorities have always been wary of science. The Church, for example, forced Galileo to recant his findings on planetary motion, which threatened its dogma on the nature of the heavens. Now a battle is raging in Washington, D.C., and its furor, too, is positively medieval.

Although nominally about ethics, the current conflict is really about faith. On one side stands the principle of unfettered scientific discovery—a faith in man and rationality. On the other side is spiritual faith. Bioethics is an attempt to grapple with the question of what it means to be human, undertaken at a moment in history when modern science seems to be on the threshold of overturning human identity.

The Acumen Journal of Life Sciences proposes a two-step elixir to revive constructive bioethical discourse: one, reduce hyperventilation on all sides; two, add a strong dose of reason. Bioethics, though recent as a discipline, is hardly new. Its lineage stretches from the medical practices of Hippocrates to the landmark 1979 Belmont Report, which established regulations for research on human subjects. What is new, however, is the degree to which policy formation has been overwhelmed by political, ideological, and religious considerations (see �Ethical Dilemma,� page 66 of the Journal, Issue 2). This policy comes at the expense of science and democracy—and, crucially, individual health.

We believe the only thing endangered by scientific study is irrational conviction. We must not submit to a world where the life sciences are feared and misunderstood. But educating the citizenry to think otherwise entails a long struggle, requiring the active interest of life sciences and medical professionals. Astonishingly, the Vatican did not formally acknowledge Galileo�s heliocentric theory until 1995. Indeed, the world is neither brave nor new.



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