The Christian Position on Cloning
I am doing research on the topic of Christianity and Cloning. I am looking for strong intelligent debatable arguments about this subject. If you have anything you would like to contribute to my research ( your own opinion or others) please feel free to express it.
This subject might also be a good question for your website.
Thank you so much for your time!
Thank you for expressing an interest in my web site and my views on this highly controversial subject. Cloning is an issue that has over the past few decades caught the fancy of science fiction writers and the public. The idea of reproducing oneself can be either tantalizing or horrifying depending on your beliefs of what cloning achieves. Because of much mis-information out there, I'd like to first look at what cloning actually is and what it accomplishes. Then we can examine the theological and moral implications of the issue more sensibly.
Dolly, the Scottish sheep was introduced to the world as the first fully-cloned mammal, and proved that a heretofore inaccessible technology was not only in our grasp, but quite easily accomplished with tools that many scientists currently have at their disposal. Many people have become frightened of the thought that some day scientists would clone people and perhaps replace them with a duplicate, or perpetrate some horrific fraud by making more than one president, etc. What is not understood is that cloning does occur in nature.
Cloning is taking the genetic blueprint for a living being (their DNA) and creating another person using the exact same blueprint. The clone looks identical to its progenitor. The color of their hair, eyes, and skin will be identical. Also their height and other physical characteristics will be the same. This type of DNA duplication also happens in nature. When a woman conceives with a single egg being fertilized by the mans sperm, a unique DNA combination results. If that egg divides into two separate zygotes, they will become two embryos and the woman will have two children born to her- identical twins. Since both came from a single fertilized egg, the twins share the same DNA and look exactly alike.
Cloning achieves these same results artificially. If a person was to be cloned, the result would be a twin brother or sister. Like any other set of twins, they would look identical (except for any distance in the ages of the genetic "parent" and the new person) but also would not be exactly alike in many ways. Fingerprints and voiceprints are unique to each individual, and cloning could not duplicate those characteristics. Also, like many mothers of twins could attest, the personalities and emotional makeup of the clone could be very different. This is especially true of a clone situation because their environment would be completely different from that of the donor. Even twins who are reared in the same household at the same time still have easily distinguishable characteristics, so we would expect more deviation in a clone.
Because we understand all the above, we can draw conclusions as to how the Bible addresses some of the moral issues cloning presents. First we understand that a human clone would be considered an independent human being. This means that the new person has the same intrinsic value as every other human being. We do not denigrate children conceived in vitro (test tube babies) because they were artificially placed in the womb, so we would have to be consistent with clones.
The clone would also be a unique person in the eyes of God. He would have an independent soul and could come to God as any other individual. He is just as capable of attaining salvation from the Lord as is his progenitor, even if the donor rejects the gospel. God would allot him the same value as a member of the human race, and all the admonitions we read in how to treat others would apply here, also.
The real question, then, is whether it is morally and Biblically acceptable to create a new person from the genetic makeup of another. Like most ethical problems, the Bible first deals with the motives for accomplishing such actions. It is in the purpose of creating a clone where we find answers to most of the problems in cloning. Being as mankind has an incredible capacity for evil, we must ask why would someone create a clone? Is it to get out of doing yard work? This is a fanciful notion that is portrayed in movies, but not very realistic. One would have to wait twenty or so years for a clone to come of age before he can be mistaken as the donor, but by then the donor would have aged himself. The only motives that I can see spending this much effort (and money) to acquire a clone are these:
- Someone hopes to recreate a great individual; Someone whose mental or artistic prowess cause many to revere him or her.
- A person wishes to recreate him or herself because of their ego.
- A person being ill hopes to receive some type of medical help from the genetically identical clone. This may be as innocuous as a bone marrow transplant, or as great as a heart-lung transplant.
- An infertile couple wishes to have children, but without any external genetic influences (i.e. sperm donors or egg donors)
In examining these motives we can more accurately understand the Bible's position. Someone who wishes to recreate a person revered by culture or history has many problems. As we have stated, there is no guarantee that the psychological makeup of the clone will be even close to the donor. God has created each person as a unique individual. To try and force a specific role upon another is self-serving. Even if one's motives seem virtuous (like creating another Einstein to try and solve the world's problems), at its base is a self motivation that this person can be our savior(i.e. "He can save us from the problems that I worry about'). To force someone else to grow into such a role to which you deem them worthy would be cruel. This is contrary to the Bible's command that we place others ahead of ourselves(1 Cor. 10:24). We are to seek the good of the other individual first. Similarly, wishing to recreate one's self is the ultimate act of selfishness, and really needs no further comment.
Creating a living being to use them for a medical necessity is at the least uncomfortable. If one is trying to save the life of a daughter and clones her to extract biological material from the new life, is this a callous disregard for the personhood of the clone? We would expect public outrage at cloning people as "biological warehouses" for spare parts, but what if the clone could not be harmed by the procedure and grow to live a healthy life? Bone marrow transplants can save many lives, but the odds are great to find someone who will match the patient's type. A clone could donate marrow and still live a happy independent life.
Having a child that one might save the life of another is an ethical question with many thorns. Was the family planning on more children anyway? Does the family have the means (physical and emotional as well as financial) to support a new baby? If a family does try for another child to perhaps help their ill offspring, and they find that the new baby's an incompatible match (or perhaps has the same problem), then how would they treat the child? If they found this out while the child is in-utero, would they then consider abortion? Unless the new baby receives the same love and respect of any of the other children, the motives are wrong and therefore immoral. If the child would be a clone, the difficulties for that child increase. Many twins have struggled with a sense of non-individuality. They feel that people don't view them as a separate person, but always part of a "pair". Also, because man is a sinful creature, I cannot help but believe the clone would undergo taunting and even be considered a inferior human being by some of the public. The psychological factors that would affect a clone could be enormous, and would parents really want to knowingly subject their child to such a situation?
Cloning an individual for procreative purposes without any other genetic input is a very weak reason. As with the case previous, the child could be faced with emotional problems based on the fact that he is a clone. It seems to be a position that also is self-centered. To be a parent is a great gift and a great blessing, but it is not the right of every individual. As painful as it is, God has chosen some people to not bear children. I am not saying that some infertility treatments should not be investigated, but it would be a selfish desire for the parents to clone one of themselves in order to satisfy their need for parenting. The Bible is very clear about protecting the feelings of others above our own, and I see cloning as a potential for grief for the child that is too large to ignore.
Though we've covered much ground here, there are still many questions that cloning raises. I hope this conversation will allow people to think a little more intelligently about the cloning issue so that the proper discussions and decisions can be reached. I pray that, as Christians, we are the leaders on these ethical considerations and we can help shape decisions based on the moral foundations of our faith.