The Morality of Pursuing Perfection: Biola Hosts Designer Baby Debate

Sep. 17, 2009 By Jenna Bartlo

LA MIRADA, CALIF. --- With the knowledge and ability to choose the gender and traits a child will be born with - eye, hair color, intelligence, athleticism - or whatever a parent may choose, where does morality or faith fit in?

On Friday, September 17, 2009 Biola University Torrey Honors Institute, in partnership with Joni and Friends Christian Institute on Disability, is hosting a free debate - “Biblical Beauty, Brokenness and Bioethics,” focusing on bioethics and the morality of designer babies. John Mark Reynolds, director of Torrey’s Honors Institute, will moderate the debate from 5:45 to 7 p.m. between Wesley Smith, senior fellow in human rights and bioethics at the Discovery Institute, and Gregory Stock, CEO of Signum Biosciences.

“The future is here, and now technology allows us to make inappropriate decisions about the nature of what it is to be human,” said Reynolds. “There is an urgent need for Christians to deal with that technology and that reality. This conference is an important step.”

In early February 2009, when Jeff Steinberg, director of the Fertility Institutes, announced eye and hair color selection would be offered in addition to gender selection, in which their 3,800 cases had a 100 percent success rate, the response was not as positive as he would have hoped. However, the discussion didn’t end when Steinberg succumbed to the criticism and decided not to proceed with the project. Although the discussion has been present for two decades, it is now until this year, it has become a reality. The debate continues and the question remains, is it inappropriate to perform such procedures?

As the debate heightens in society, Joni and Friends brings the debate to Biola to seek truth regarding the new technology and effects of designer babies on our culture.

Smith is also the associate director of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, and a special consultant for the Center for Bioethics and Culture. In May 2004, because of his work in bioethics, he was named by the National Journal as one of the nation’s top expert thinkers in bioengineering. His most recently published book is Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World, in which he explores the morality, science, and business aspects of human cloning, stem cell research, and genetic engineering.

Stock is the Director of the Program on Medicine, Technology, and Society at UCLA’s School of Medicine. In this role he explores critical technologies poised to have large impacts on humanity’s future and the shape of medical science. Signum Biosciences was formed to present the scientific breakthroughs taking place at Stock’s laboratory at Princeton University to drug-discovery in order to help address the growing healthcare crisis stemming from the burgeoning pharmaceutical needs of graying populations.

The free debate is open to the public and will be held in Sutherland Hall at Biola University. Contact Jenna Bartlo, Biola University Media Relations Coordinator, for press tickets at or by phone at (562) 777.4061.


Biola University is a private Christian university located in Southern California on the border of Los Angeles and Orange counties in the city of La Mirada. For over 100 years, Biola has remained committed to its biblical foundation, integrating biblical principles with every academic program. U.S. News & World Report recognizes Biola as a “National University,” which is considered the “major leagues” of higher education. In addition to its focus on intentional spiritual development and career preparation, Biola offers a unique academic environment where all faculty, staff and students are professing Christians. With over 145 academic programs in seven schools, Biola offers degrees ranging from B.A. to Ph.D. For more information, visit or call (562) 777 – 4061.

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Biola University
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