The Big Driver of Ethical Questions in the 20th Century was Physics
Hand a few people the power to annihilate whole populations and it raises sticky ethical questions that can carry the conversation well past tea time.
However, in the 21st Century, the big driver of ethical questions will be–is–bioscience. How many Christians, so eager to insist with bovine laziness that “Christianity is simple!” will be willing to do the hard intellectual work necessary to try and work through a response to the colossal challenges which are rushing at us from a technological realm that is increasingly untethered from both natural law and supernatural revelation, even as it embraces more and more of the power to design what “human” shall henceforth mean?
This, once again, is a sphere which–though it will certainly have to be faced by the Church’s shepherds–is still overwhelmingly lay. It is laypeople who will ultimately be making the hands-on decisions that will invite the judgment or the blessing of God.
We Americans talk a good game about being a free people. However, the danger of democracy is that it ultimately depends on people like us. We wanna take credit for all that’s good about our country (which is very frequently a gift from our grandparents) yet pretend we are helpless to do anything about what’s bad about it. Then, all of a sudden, we’re victims, innocent bystanders, powerless. Sooner or later, our grandchildren–in whatever genetically modified semi-human forms they might take, will look at us and say, “Why didn’t you *do* anything? Why did you stand around moaning about how complicated it all is?”
Or, they will praise us as we praise the WWII generation, for acting to stop a great danger from destroying our humanity. But that choice is up to us–us laypeople.