Thoughts of an SRT Project (ex) Convener

image Published: May 26, 2017

Concluding eight years as a member of the SRT Project Committee, six as convener, I feel that my horizons have been significantly expanded as I recall some of my experiences in this role. Firstly, the strengths, talents and experience brought to the group by individual members gives depth and authenticity to our discussions covering a broad range of topics. The addition of co-opted members drawn from a variety of professional and denominational backgrounds also ensures we capture informed comment from a spectrum of scientific disciplines and Christian traditions.

Staff members Murdo and Karen deal with a bewildering array of varying tasks ranging across Presbytery visits, responding to Government consultations, editing numerous draft reports, networking and keeping abreast latest developments in applied technologies to name but a few. The SRT Project is very fortunate to have such committed and professional staff keeping the wheels turning.

Reports to the General Assembly coming from SRT Project working groups during my tenure have explored interesting and in some cases challenging subjects when the ethics of applying specific technologies force us to examine our understanding of human dominion within God’s creation. For instance, the Neuroethics report raised questions such as the possible application of brain scanning techniques in determining the guilt or innocence of crime suspects.  Similarly, in IVF, the use of novel cell biology procedures involving gametes from three donors has now been approved in order to control the transfer of mitochondrial disease to subsequent generations. The latter topic formed part of the Kinship Bonds report. This interplay between legislation and the application of potentially controversial techniques is a fascinating one.  Just because we can do something does not mean that we should do it.  Such issues are core to the work of the SRT Project where the church can help inform the debate and bring a considered Christian perspective.

In 2020 the SRT Project will celebrate 50 years of contributing to the scrutiny and ethical evaluation of many ground breaking advances in science. I look forward in anticipation to the project continuing to play a leading role in voicing the Christian view of testing developments and challenging circumstances.

Glenn Walker, Convener of the SRT Project Committee May 2011 - May 2017

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