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Genomics Forum · Events

God Talk in American Public Debates about Genetics: What Does the Public Think?

Seminar   05.07.2007






Professor John Evans, University of California (San Diego)


Boardroom, ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum, 3rd Floor, St John's Land, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh

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In the U.S., the debate about reproductive genetics has many religious themes. In this talk I will discuss some findings from my interview study of what Americans think about reproductive genetic technologies, focusing on the question of how they think the debate about reproductive genetics should occur. Specifically, I ask about the use of religious language in this debate. I frame my analysis as a comparison between what political theorists see as the advantages and disadvantages of having religious discourse in the public sphere and what these average citizens think the advantages and disadvantages are. The American public has a different set of concerns than the political theorists, and knowledge of the public‚s view will hopefully contribute to a better debate about these technologies.

Biographical information John H. Evans is associate professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Playing God? Human Genetic Engineering and the Rationalization of Public Bioethical Debate. (2002, University of Chicago Press) and co-editor (with Robert Wuthnow) of The Quiet Hand of God: Faith-Based Activism and the Public Role of Mainline Protestantism. (2002, University of California Press). He is completing a book tentatively titled The Religious Citizen and Reproductive Genetic Technology: How One Debate Influences the Next.

John has also published a number of articles on opinion polarization in the U.S. over abortion, homosexuality and related issues. His research focuses on the sociology of religion, culture, knowledge, science and, in particular, bioethics.

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