Re: Religious Life/Professional Ethics

Keith B Miller (
Mon, 2 Feb 1998 22:33:43 -0600

Murphy wrote:

> I don't think the problem is whether or not such rules can be
>traced back to fundamental ones of the Judaeo-Christian (often in common
>with other traditions). Rather, are there rules which are relevant to
>the issue at hand. In some cases I think there just are not - e.g.,
>genetic engineering & cloning. Here traditional rules apply to some
>aspects of the question - e.g., treatment of "excess" embryos - but
>those are really peripheral to the fundamental question of whether GE or
>cloning in themselves are appropriate. Belief that traditional rules do
>apply in all such situations can lead to the sometimes rather arcane
>procedure by which Jewish or Islamic authorities try to apply torah or
>Qu'ran to them.

I would argue that at least some guidance is provided in the issue of
cloning, for example, by scriptural principles. The great concern shown
for the poor, sick, and socially outcast in scripture certainly provides
constraints on how cloning (or any medical technology) is applied. Whom
does the cloning proceedure benefit most? Who will benefit most from
cloned organs or from treatments based on cloning technology. If humans
are cloned, which individuals will be chosen - those deemed most physically
perfect, those who are most intelligent, those who will pay? How is the
value of a human life assigned? What will be the impact on the perception
of those who are deemed imperfect in society's eyes? I would argue that an
ethic influenced by the gospel would favor decisions that provided for the
best return for the neediest in society. Scripture does not provide
specific prescriptions but general guidelines.


Keith B. Miller
Department of Geology
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506