The issue of cloning seems to have come and gone on the ASA
listserve. But on another mailing list (dedicated to discussion of
Christian apologist Peter Kreeft) that I belong to, cloning has received
considerable attention. The consensus is that cloning humans is very wrong.
I thought the reactions to the issue were interesting not so much for the
positions people took, but for the understanding of how science
operates, and the manner in which pure research is motivated. It's not my
intention to revive discussion; if we want to put this matter to bed it's
fine with me. But I do think people will find this interesting. Here is a
spattering of the responses:
A natural progression from other reproductive technologies, which will
probably be used like they are-- we now have preborn human embryos being
experimented on, aborted fetuses used in make-up and skin-care products,
transplants, harvested for organs, babies killed for being the wrong gender,
and all the rest. Moloch & Co., Inc.
Just imagine how a Hitler might use such technology? Or an unscrupulous
cloning industry run by a rogue state which allowed you to have a
cryogenically preserved clone made to get spare parts from if you needed
transfusions, transplants, or the rest. Or a parenting-clone industry where
you got to choose a baby from the genes of Michael Jordan, or Einstein, or
Cindy Crawford, or Saddam Hussein, or Bill Clinton, or whomever (since all
you need is once cell from a person to steal the DNA sequence)? Designer
My response to this message:
> I tried to point out in an earlier post the problems of speculating on the
> value of scientific research. I will not attempt to defend cloning in
> particular, but I will point out that your "objections" proceed from pure
> speculation. The thought that you or anyone else could inhibit original
> research based on unfounded, speculative fears is far more disturbing than
> the science fiction (and reasoning by analogy) outlined above.
A respsonse to this (from a physicist):
Why? Is the pursuit of scientific knowledge somehow an undeniable
right? Something that cannot be reigned in? If you truly think so then
I suggest a revision in your thinking. As Kreeft says, science (in the
modern sense) is dependent upon philosophy which in turn is dependent
upon theology (not natural theology, but revealed truth) When science
will overstep its bounds we have an obligation to stop it . . .
Man is made in the image of God. The very same reasons that forbid
murder, suicide, and abortion forbid cloning. It is a supreme insult to
the dignity of the human person. In the first three life is denied those
granded life by God. In the last, life is re-made "in our image". We
cannot possibly understand the complete plan of God for individuals, and
that includes the physical circumstances in which they live, including
the uniquness of their body. Yes, there are natural clones, millions of
them, but they are a natural result which is in some way influenced by
God. If it is wrong to demand control of the natural reproductive
process via contraception (which _all_ Christians agreed upon until 1930)
then it is horribly wrong to demand control of the very structure of
life, regardless of _any_ possible "good" that could come from it.
Recall that this present world is _not_ the they way things should be.
Our main purpose in life is not to control the world, nor to learn all
there is to know about it. Our main purpose is to seek God. We are
cursed and in need of salvation. Everything else we do that is
not directly ordered to "working out our salvation with fear and
trembling" is of limited significance at best and a useless distraction
Cloning of animals could be a _very_ good thing. Cloning of humans is a
_very_ bad thing. Time for the world to grow up and chose properly.
Another response (from the original poster):
Hold the phone, Rodney. The speculations are not unfounded.
FACT: Humans embryos are formed in vitro with many being lost for
couples during IVF procedures. Many human embryos are frozen, many
FACT: I'm sad to say an NIH research panel recently approved the
creation of human embryos solely for research purposes, for
experimentation and destruction.
FACT: Approximately 1 - 1.5 MILLION human beings are killed by abortion
in the US every year.
FACT: The egg cells from aborted female babies have been used to allow
other women to have babies.
How's that for disturbing ??
Do you actually think that this society, which has cast off morality and
Christianity, can handle cloning human beings ?
I can certainly envision the rich making clones and having them killed
to harvest organs. Is it not scientific and logical to think before we leap ?
Are you saying above that we cannot question the value of any scientific
research ? What about "research" done on Jews by the Nazi's (ie exploring
hypothermia by freezing Jews to death) ?
The fears listed above are not unfounded, and the thought of scientists
experimenting without any bounds (check your medical history on Nazis)
goes FAR byond 'disturbing'.
has anyone stopped to evaluate the fact that cloned substances are
PROPERTY? Think about THAT application to humans
Before we clone human beings, there better be a clear benefit that
outweighs the dangers. We know it technically is possible. The question
is, should it be done. As the mathmetician in "Jurassic Park" states,
"Your scientists were so concerned IF they could do it that they forgot
to ask SHOULD them." Again, why do we need to clone humans ?
What possible benefit is there ? What are possible dangers, problems ?
Surely we must discuss and explore these questions before we jump into
Glad to hear from you. I completely agree. The whole idea of humans playing
God goes back to the serpent, doesn't it? "Ye shall be as gods..." Funny,
that was the reason for his fall as well. We just seem to be getting more
Technology is not neutral as some claim, especially when the use of that
technology inevitably involves an immoral end. Example: the "cobalt bomb,"
which, if used, would wipe out our atmosphere and end life on the
planet. Is that a "neutral" bit of technology, sort of like a kitchen knife?
Furthermore, who says we have to do everything we can do? (Hint: same guy
who said "ye shall be as gods...")
My position is that cloning is inherently wrong on philosophical grounds.
It's also wrong on theological grounds, but it is not necessary to bring
in revealed truth to make the case.
We can speculate about how any technology
might be abused, and any technology CAN be abused. If speculative stories
about how technology might be abused constitute decisive arguments against
technology, then ALL technology is thereby rendered illegitimate. There
is simply no such thing as a technology that can be used *only* for the good.
Every technology has the potential for good or bad use, because we sinful
men are capable of good or evil ends.
The decisive argument against cloning lies in the fact that cloning human
beings is BY ITS VERY NATURE an abuse. We don't have to wait for the
"research to be done" to determine whether cloning is right or wrong.
The research IS an abuse because the intended result of the research is
a human being who has been "constructed" by other human beings. Such
an enterprise is by its nature a domination of some people over others,
in fact about as great a domination as is conceivable. It strikes me
as a self-evident violation of the natural law.
The argument from the practical consequences of cloning (rich people
harvesting organs, etc.) may backfire because it implies that cloning
would be OK but for these consequences. I know that this is not what
people intend, but it is the message that will be received. The pro-
cloning side can then argue the "positive" consequences of cloning, and
the impression will be given that this issue stands or falls on the
practical consequences of cloning. Inevitably the "reasonable"
solution will be a compromise whereby cloning is legalized but tightly
controlled, and we all know what the latter means.
(from the same person above)
The key question with regard to technology is: Whom does it serve? C.S.
Lewis made the point in *The Abolition of Man* that man's power over
nature ends up being one man's power over another. Airplanes can be used
to ferry people across the Atlantic and also to obliterate cities; Radio
can spread information and also propaganda. Contraception is the current
generation's power over future generations, abortion is the same power
manifest as that future generation becomes present.
Airplanes and radio are legitimate technologies because they are not by
nature dominating technologies. Sure, you can bomb somebody with a B-1,
but you can also fly someone to see his grandmother in a 767. Whether we
use these technologies for good or evil is the drama of human history.
Abortion, however, is by its very nature the exercise of power of one
person over another. So is cloning. The whole point of cloning a human
being is to dominate that individual to such an extent that we determine
his nature down to the microscopic level. I can hardly imagine a more
profound violation of the dignity of the human person.
Whether we intend "good" or "evil" with such cloning is beside the point.
That's just the modern ends justifies the means morality. The exercise
of such profound power of one person over another is in itself a terrible
evil and I would think a gross violation of the natural law.
Count me among the extremists on this issue.
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