Science and the Human Person Podcasts

How do religious and secular traditions engage techno-scientific innovations of late modernity? The Science and the Human Person working group of the Contending Modernities initiative has spent the past four years addressing this question, with a particular emphasis on the beginning and end of life, and how medical innovations have changed how we understand “life.” We invite you to listen to two radio programs that highlight our research on gene editing and organ donation.


How Should We Regulate Gene Editing?
What can religious scholars and ethicists tell us?

Photo Credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT). “Samples of tropical forages conserved in vitro at CIAT gene bank in Colombia.”

What do religious scholars and ethicists have to say about the process of gene editing? What worries them? Listen in to the conversation with panelists Deborah Blum (MIT), Michael Fitzgerald (Boston Globe), Ebrahim Moosa (University of Notre Dame), and Adil Najam (Boston University) and expert witnesses Maura Ryan (University of Notre Dame), Abdulaziz Sachedina (George Mason University), Robert Tappan (Towson University), and Andrea Vicini (Boston College). Science journalist Ehsan Masood moderates.


Listen to the full podcast here:

Photo Credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. “Mutants in Microgravity.”

Advances with the CRISPR gene editing technology in recent years raise the specter of widespread genetic modification, beyond the much-maligned modification of food crops. As scientists push the limits of what is possible, and thereby redefine how we understand “life”, what do religious scholars and ethicists have to say? What religious and secular norms should guide the kinds of limits we apply to gene editing?

Questions or comments? Feel free to write us!







Is Organ Donation Permitted in Islam?
What will Sara’s Shia mother and Sunni father decide to do?

Photo Credit: Magnus D. “Organ Donation.”


“The Ethics Debate” features patient advocate Najah Bazzy (Zaman International), treating clinician Hasan Shanawani (Veterans Administration National Center for Patient Safety), Aasim Padela (University of Chicago), Robert Tappan (Towson University), and Abdulaziz Sachedina (George Mason University), with moderator Ehsan Masood. The panel will debate whether Sara’s parents should allow their daughter to be an organ donor, in light of Islamic tradition.



Listen to the full podcast here:


Photo Credit: Hamed Saber. “Soudeh under Serum”

Sara is a 14-year-old girl who is on life support with severe brain injuries. She is unlikely to live and the family must decide whether to donate her organs. The decision is made more complicated by the fact that mother and father come from different Islamic traditions.

How do we define death? How have different Islamic scholars approached organ donation?

The decision to donate–or to accept–a new organ can often involve an array of people. There are family members, medical experts, lawyers, religious leaders and, of course the individuals who might be giving or receiving an organ. Listen in to hear experts who have helped families navigate these difficult decisions through a Muslim lens weigh in.


Questions or comments? Feel free to write us!


Thanks to producer Toby Murcott and Mix One Studios for their work on the project.