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Christian Union: The Magazine
March 23, 2021

Humans, Animals, and Machines in the Age of Biotechnology: A Conversation with Stanford Professor William Hurlbut

Are humans, as some maintain, ‘just another ordinary animal species’? What role will technology, and the cultural ideas that guide them, play in shaping our future? How do these questions relate to our destiny, individual and collectively, as a species made in the image of God?  

Complex questions like these were at the heart of Christian Union New York's March 23 conversation between Stanford Professor William Hurlbut and recent Christian Union alumna Angelica Du at a Christian Union Webinar on the Boundaries of Humanity: Humans, Animals, and Machines in the Age of Biotechnology. Christian Union’s Cornerstone Partners also enjoyed a more intimate conversation with Dr. Hurlbut at a pre-event before the main webinar. Partners make these kinds of discussions possible both for our alumni, friends, and those in our ministry in New York, as well as at the secular and influential universities where CU ministers.


About the Speakers 

Dr. Hurlbut is a physician and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University Medical Center. His primary areas of interest involve the ethical issues associated with advancing biomedical technology, the biological basis of moral awareness, and studies in the integration of theology and philosophy of biology.  He has worked with NASA on projects in astrobiology and on Chemical and Biological Warfare at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. He has co-chaired three interdisciplinary faculty projects at Stanford: “Becoming Human: The Evolutionary Origins of Spiritual, Religious and Moral Awareness,” “Brain Mind and Emergence,” and (ongoing) “The Boundaries of Humanity: Human, Animals, and Machines in the Age of Biotechnology.” In addition, he co-led, with Professor Jennifer Doudna (2020 Noble Laureate), of “The challenge and opportunity of gene editing: a project for reflection, deliberation and education.” From 2002-2009 Dr. Hurlbut served on the President’s Council on Bioethics.


Angelica Du holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, where she researched neurobiology, tutored critical writing, directed a Disney-themed A Cappella group, and led weekly worship for Christian Union. Driven by her passion to innovate for good, Angelica is pursuing a career in biotechnology and drug discovery, with the goals of empowering underrepresented groups in STEM and healing as many people as possible (physically and spiritually). Though a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Angelica currently resides near Philadelphia, working in vaccine manufacturing tech ops at Merck & Co.

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