The issue of who is or what is a human person occupies a central place in the history of relationships or encounters between religion and science. The Copernican Revolution, Darwinian Evolutionism, and Genetic Determinism have all contributed in significant but different ways to the progressive undermining of the traditional religious understanding of ‘human.’ From the religious perspective, science aided by technology has progressively shrunk the domain of human distinctiveness. The contemporary debate on the issue of the human person is only the latest in this long series of scientifically and technologically generated feuds between religion and science in modern times. As in earlier cases, central to this debate is the issue of the meaning of human. However, the new factor in this latest debate is the availability of new forms of technology that have the unprecedented capacity to at least transform the physical dimension of the human constitution if not also its psychological and mental dimension into shapes and forms beyond our current imagination.

Genetic engineering with its attendant technologies has indeed posed great challenges not only for religion but also for science itself, public ethics, law and governance. In this presentation I will discuss some of these challenges within the framework of the currently deeply contested notion of the human person. I will also discuss the crucial role that interfaith and intercultural dialogues can play in formulating common cross-cultural responses to these challenges. My discussion, however, will be mainly guided by Islamic perspectives on these various issues.


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  • Received: 01 March 2014
  • Accepted: 01 March 2014
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