Religious views: The impact of traditional theological opinion on the practice of third-party reproduction

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Abstract

Throughout the millennia of human civilization, until quite recently, the science underlying human biology, physiology, and pathophysiology had been enshrouded in a seemingly impenetrable veil of mystery, a garment comfortably inhabited by religious beliefs. The more modern science has threatened to disrobe human function and dysfunction of its arguably supernatural vestments, the more tightly wound and securely fastened these layers of complexity seemingly have become. Almost nowhere has this tension been more dramatically illustrated than in the still-unfolding history of religious attitudes to assisted reproductive technology (ART). Most basic theology outlines religion in terms of a divine, spiritual, or supernatural counterpart to the contrastingly physical, mundane, or natural world more familiar to most human beings. When viewed through this dichotomous (and oversimplified) lens of theology, human reproduction may represent the ultimate paradox: It is a process both wholly and undeniably physical - in fact, one might argue it is the quintessential physical function of the natural world, and yet religious traditions spanning almost the entire spectrum of human history, geography, and culture have been unanimous in recognizing an important role for a divine partner in procreation and ascribing corresponding religious significance, in the form of various rules and rituals, to the acts and experiences inherent to human reproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrinciples of Oocyte and Embryo Donation
PublisherSpringer-Verlag London Ltd
Pages383-394
Number of pages12
Volume9781447123927
ISBN (Electronic)9781447123927
ISBN (Print)1447123913, 9781447123910
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

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