Jewish World Review Jan. 6, 2003 / 3 Shevat, 5763
Human cloning: It's the soul, stupid
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Regardless of whether a cloned human being was actually born as claimed, our society should use this disturbing report constructively by hastening our ethical evaluation of human cloning.
If the Raelien cult's claim is false, it's only a matter of time before it happens. After all, the Raeliens are not the only ones engaged in this horrifying enterprise. A fertility clinic in Italy and an embryology laboratory in Kentucky also claim to be close.
Brigitte Boisselier, president of Clonaid, the human cloning company engineering this process, appears to be right out of "The Addams Family" or "Munsters" TV series. And the Raelien cult, with which Boisselier is associated, believes that the human race was begun by extraterrestrials some 25,000 years ago. But we shouldn't let the comical aspects of this insanity overshadow its grave implications.
In all seriousness, just who do we think we are? Are we so self-absorbed as a species; have we become so coarse, so vulgar, so narcissistic that we can't recognize that our scientific capacity exponentially exceeds our moral maturity? Shouldn't we come to grips with where we've put G-d in this equation?
While we may have made scientific advancements of Godlike proportions, there is one of G-d's prerogatives we'll never have the remotest license to, and that is His authority over our souls. We should fear His judgment as we erect the ultimate Tower of Babel in usurping His sovereign power to create humankind by duplicating babies as if from a Xerox copy machine.
When are we going to take the time to have this moral discussion? A perfect illustration of how casually we've approached this subject is that the one body claiming to have authority over the legality of cloning is the federal Food and Drug Administration. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read that this paragon of unelected bureaucracies contends that it is the body that must approve any procedure aimed at human cloning.
The more scientific advancements we make, the greater will be the temptation to ignore their moral consequences, because these advancements will bring seductive promises of ever-increasing benefits to the human condition.
Our opinions on this issue will emanate from our respective worldviews. Since I am a Christian I won't presume to speak for others, but my understanding of the Bible compels me to conclude that human cloning is utterly violative of G-d's law. Other Christians may disagree.
The Bible reveals that G-d created us in His image and that He desires a personal relationship with us. We cannot attain a relationship with Him without humbling ourselves and surrendering to Him. By creating human life through cloning we have done just the opposite in the grossest imaginable outworking of human pride and the greatest conceivable affront to G-d. We have not only put other gods before Him; we have made ourselves those gods.
The Clonaid group says its purpose is to achieve immortality by creating carbon copies of humans, then "uploading" the contents of the original person's brain into the clone. Nothing better demonstrates their contrasting worldview.
Aside from the fantastic notion that they can upload brain contents and personal experiences from one brain to another ala Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie "Total Recall," how are they going to create a true continuity of consciousness? What happens when two identical beings coexist? How do they avoid the pain and horror of repeated physical death in their little immortality scenario?
Much more significantly, they are neglecting that little detail we refer to as the soul. Cloning advocates such as Clonaid can't possibly believe in the biblical concept that G-d creates unique human souls in His own image. Even assuming they can precisely duplicate a human being physically, what about his spiritual aspect? Will he/it have a soul? This is humanism at its most obscene. We are just masses of tissue to be manipulated and reformulated at will -- our will.
When the G-d of the Bible tells us through the prophet Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart," I think He's referring to our souls, our essences, not our yet to be fully formed brains. It is a chilling thought that His Jeremiah statement may not apply to beings that He did not form in the womb but that human scientists did.
We better quit ignoring these pressing moral issues, because we can be sure that science is not going to wait for us to catch up.
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