Address correspondence to Elisabeth Gräb-Schmidt, Ph.D., Fachschaft des Evangelischen und Katholischen Institutes für Theologie, Karl-Glöckner-Straβe 21, Haus H, 2. Stock, Raum 214, Justus-Liebig-Universität, Gieβen, Germany. E-mail: Elisabeth.A.Graeb-Schmidt@theologie.uni-giessen.de
Elisabeth Gräb-Schmidt; Freedom in Responsibility: On the Relevance of “Sin” As a Hermeneutic Guiding Principle in Bioethical Decision Making. Christ Bioeth 2005; 11 (2): 147-165. doi: 10.1080/13803600500203848
This essay deals with questions of responsibility concerning technology, in particular, gene technology and the special problem of research on embryos. I raise issues concerning the extent of humans' authority to act and the limits of human freedom. In what way isthat freedom given, and what kind of responsibility results from it? By discussing various concepts of human freedom in the tradition of European philosophy, as juxtaposed to the Protestant understanding of freedom, this essay discusses the restricting limits, and the obligation to take responsibility. It will turn out that the question concerning freedom cannot be answered without understanding what being human involves. From a Christian perspective, this implies that the foundational relationship between human freedom and sin will be central to an assessment of the human ability to take responsibility. By obliterating the limits of human freedom, sin jeopardizes the very essence of that freedom. The project of taking into account the sinful state of the human condition thus aims at developing a realistic picture of the authority of humans in action, even in view of the human tasks of promoting science and research.