WORKSHOP: “Faith and Human Life”. Pontificia Academia pro Vita
Friday, 22 February 2013
Faith and Science Serving Human Life: A View from Biomedical Research
Prof. Jozef GLASA, MD, PhD, PhD.

Institute of Pharmacology, Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Institute of Health Care Ethics, Slovak Medical University in Bratislava; Institute of Medical Ethics and Bioethics n. f.; Bratislava, Slovak Republic (Slovakia)
Biomedical research (BR) is usually understood as a broad spectrum of scientific activities concerned with the living matter, including human body in health and in disease, providing insights into, and help to the life and health of human beings within the realm of medicine, health care, and beyond. Thus, BR’s service to human life and health should undoubtedly be at the core of all its activities and efforts.
Paradoxically enough, however, the centuries of BR history had witnessed so farinnumerable instances, when the “life sciences”, including medicine, went against the health or lives of human beings, inflicting immeasurable injuries, sufferings, and even mass death. The twentieth century executed in reality humanity’s worst nightmares in this respect. In the aftermath of the atrocities committed before, and during the 2nd World War, many laudable efforts were pursued internationally to ensure establishing of the necessary ethical and legal safeguards for BR, so it may be conducted for a genuine good of individuals, communities (present and future), and of the humanity.
Despite so many positive achievements in this field, including various international law instruments, numerous ethics declarations and guidelines, the breaches of these standards still occur nowadays both in the Lab and at the bedside. How could the shocking paradoxes of BR, which is at the same time surely one of the humanity’s most noble and necessary endeavors, be comprehended andreasonably dealt with? And how can be the wrongs and ills from the past prevented from repeating, or even from falling down the slippery slope deeper and for worst?
In looking for the necessary answers, it has long been claimed that in order to achieve BR’s noble and needful goals, i.e. in fostering its service to the true good of individual human beings, communities, and humanity as a whole, it needs to be enlightened and directed within its breathtaking pace by the sound ethical reasoning and effective discourse.
The limitations of the human reason and of human nature must be acknowledged here, however, that could make for errors, mistakes, or even ill deeds of BR actors and/or stakeholders. Therefore, in the responsible discernment of the moral/ethical issues of BR, and in the prudent decision making, the light of the sound reason is invaluably helped by the inner brightness of faith giving the temporal human efforts and struggles the fundamental, transcendental anchoring in eternity. This provides for a truly unshakeable platform of the true human dignity, life and flourishing in this world, and beyond.