Robert P. George on “Natural Law, God, and Human Dignity”

March 23, 2021
Each Spring semester, the Bioethics degree program in Trinity Graduate School invites lecturers from the field of bioethics to speak for the John F. Kilner Bioethics Lectureship. On Thursday, March 18, TGS hosted the third and final lecture in their Spring 2021 Bioethics Colloquia with a lecture on “Natural Law, God, and Human Dignity” by speaker Professor Robert P. George of Princeton University. While TGS has hosted the Spring Bioethics Colloquia for more than 20 years, the Bioethics Lectureship was more recently launched through a generous gift in 2018. The following year, the Bioethics Lectureship was renamed the John F. Kilner Bioethics Lectureship in honor of Dr. Kilner’s retirement from TEDS. The Kilner Bioethics Lectureship draws influential Christian thinkers in the world of bioethics. This year’s speaker Prof. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is also frequently a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. He holds graduate degrees from both the University of Oxford and Harvard University and also holds 21 honorary degrees (including a DLitt from TIU in 2016). George’s presentation explained the importance of natural law and understanding our humanness. He explained:

If the body doesn’t matter, and if our biology isn’t us, then why would we object to a policy that says the following: when women come into the hospital or birthing center and have babies, if they have a baby, they get to go home with a baby. But since the body doesn’t matter, and biological reality doesn’t matter, therefore biological relations can’t matter. So why should a mom go home with her own baby? Why not send every mom who contributes a baby home with a baby? If 15 babies are born this weekend, 15 moms go home with 15 babies chosen randomly.

While the lecture itself was open to the public, Trinity students within the bioethics program spoke to Dr. George in an additional Q&A session after the lecture. Opportunities to ask questions to those who are respected in the field are essential for students. Stephen Largent, BA/MA Bioethics ’23, said that “for students such as myself who are new to the field, the Kilner Lectures give me the ability to interact with experts in the field that I would not have the opportunity to interact with otherwise.” The Kilner Bioethics Lectureship and the broader Spring Bioethics Colloquium series of which it is a part are just some of the many activities and opportunities for students to learn about and engage with the pressing ethical issues of our day in medicine, science, and technology through the Bioethics Degree Program in TGS along with the work of The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity, a leading Christian bioethics research center here at Trinity. Learn more about the MA in Bioethics program here. To find out about research, church engagement, and the annual bioethics summer conference, visit CBHD.org.