SRSP 11-16 Topic 5 U1b – Genetic issues


Genetic engineering is sometimes considered to be ‘playing God’. Although there does need to be some caution when manipulating human genes not all interference with genes can necessarily be considered immoral. This unit explores different kinds of genetic modification and looks at the positive aspects of treatment which, in theological terms, might be considered to be good stewardship of creation.

The term ‘engineering’ is often used by those who feel that science is being used to create something which is unnatural and dangerous like Frankenstein’s monster. A better, less emotive term would be ‘genetic modification’. Often moral and religious reactions are confused because genetic modification has the potential to affect a wide range of areas such as food technology, animal husbandry, medicine, selective breeding and cloning.

Note: This unit requires you to have access to the film Gattaca [Dir: Andrew Nicholl, 1997] it can be found on-line for about £5

This unit consists of 4 lessons and is suitable for students aged from 14 to 16 years


Key Questions

  • What does it mean to ‘play God’?
  • ‘God gives life; only God can take it away’ Is this true?
  • What is your response to this statement?
  • What genetic modification do you think is acceptable, and what is unacceptable?
  • Would genetic cloning of a person reproduce that person’s spiritual as well as material make-up?
  • What does it mean to be made ‘in the image of God’?

Some of the materials can be viewed on screen and some can be downloaded for editing or printing. To view the pdf files you need Adobe Acrobat Reader. See the about section for more details.

Unit Resources

Unit Overview (Word)

Link to Francis Collins video [Need to be online]


Lesson 1

Lesson Plan: When is gene therapy justified? (Word)

Student Worksheet 1a: When is gene therapy justified? (more able) (Word)

Student Worksheet 1b: When is gene therapy justified? (less able) (Word)

Student Worksheet 2: Is gene therapy ever justified? (Word)


Lessons 2, 3 and 4

Lesson Plan: Gattaca (Word)

Student Worksheet: Responsible Stewardship or playing God? (Word)


Lesson 5

Lesson Plan: Implications and reflections (Word)

Starter Powerpoint (PPT)

Student Resource 1: The Gene therapy debate: science and religion (Word)

© 2011 LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion)