Taking Stock

My wife and I have been in the process of moving from Houston to North Carolina. I’ve taken a newly created chair in religion and science at Davidson College, after having worked for many years in various positions at Rice University and Texas Medical Center. It’s exhilarating to return to full-time undergraduate teaching. I’m responsible for interdisciplinary courses that challenge students to explore how religious perspectives inform, and are informed by, recent scientific and technological developments, in addition to other courses in applied ethics and in Catholic social thought.

A colleague once offered a sermon, albeit pre-Katrina, about an important rule to follow when making a move: Know what to leave behind, what to keep, and what to give away. As is the case with any academic, the move forced me to face closetfuls of books and files and to plow through mountains of material. In the process, I’ve had the opportunity to look back on the concerns that fueled my continuing interest in bioethics.

Some of the files, now quite dated, have been easy to toss. Others, although dated in their details, remain historically relevant. An example is my “Louise Brown” file, about the first successful in vitro baby. It is now twenty-seven years since she was born. In the interim, more than a million such children have been born, enough for proponents to label IVF procedures an obvious “success.” That may be...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author