On May 31st, our Chair fellow Fr. Joseph Tham participated in the International Workshop: Ethics of Biomedical Technology and Artificial Intelligence. The workshop was organised by Global China Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, City University of Hong Kong (CityU). He discussed the latest publication Interreligious Perspectives on Mind, Genes and the Self, which is based upon research and presentations given at the fifth Multicultural conference in Houston in 2016.
The different book chapters of Interreligious Perspectives on Emerging Technologies represent a robust conversation of six religious groups regarding the interface of neuroscience and genetics with their traditions. Some Hindu scholars challenge the Western epistemological categories of religion, ethics and the relevance of such applications in science. All these world religions discuss the anthropological questions of selfhood and identity, the understanding of soul, spirit, mind and brain, and the relationship between the individual and the collective from their respective philosophies and theologies. They ponder if such novel technological applications on the genome or the brain can alter their long-held beliefs and whether they reduce the soul or selfhood to some matter of physics. Others worry about a form of determinism that negates the existence of our spiritual nature and free will. There is also a concern that such innovations may further propagate social discrimination and injustice. Finally, religious wisdom questions the prudence of “perfecting” humanity with the hubris of the transhumanist project.