Debating Bioethics

The most interesting debate topics are relevant ones. On the heels of COVID-19 and the vaccine, this year’s Lincoln Douglas Debate resolution deals with the tension between the need for scientific advancement and restraint. The debate is not about COVID, per se, or even about governmental action. Instead, the resolution will take us into deeply philosophic ground.

When researching the resolution, debaters come across people like Jennifer Doudna, He Jiankui (aka JK), and Victoria Gray. The research will guide the students to scientists who are blazing trails in a new horizon of advancement. They will learn about unethical and illegal efforts to push the boundaries. They will also learn about animal tests, animal-human hybrid experimentation, and gene editing in humans.

When researching the resolution, debaters have the potential to touch on sensitive issues. But the Debate Committee believes LD offers an excellent opportunity for students to debate the issues constructively, and subjects like abortion will not be a part of the debate. In researching, you will see conflation between natural selection and evolution. The former is a process that is observable in nature (dog breeds, for example). The process always involves the reduction of information in the formation of mutation, as in antibiotic resistance. Evolution, on the other hand, theorizes that genomic information is increased, which has never been observed. The topic of biomedical engineering will stretch the research ability and debate skills in every LD debater. The subject matter available is recent, broad, and fair.

Parents: Work with your students to sort through subjects like transhumanism, germline gene editing, chimera, and stem cells. These topics may be initially confusing and could ignite a discussion about ethical conflict. You may wish to consider using LexisNexis as Law Journals cover bioethical topics.

Debaters: You can debate passionately but respectfully. Every round will involve discussion around restraint that may harm or may protect God’s image-bearers. The challenge for you all will be to treat the subject and the competitors with respect.

Judges: It is important to set aside bias for any discussion in the debate round. Remember, this is an academic activity, and debaters may be advancing positions with which you disagree. Additionally, they may be discussing information without understanding it as well as you do. The grace we extend to debaters is displayed by not being a third debater in the room, but your expertise is greatly needed on the ballot. Did they adequately support the claims made? Were they kind and respectful to each other throughout the round? Your feedback on the ballot will provide better training than you know.

This year will greatly enhance value argumentation in our league. Additionally, research capabilities will deepen with the nature of the topic.

Ultimately, our goal is to honor and glorify God in all we do. Study hard and debate with passion and integrity. By the grace of God, we will have another great year of competition.

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