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Cloning and the Christian Faith

There has been considerable public debate over the past decade concerning the morality of cloning. This short essay will argue that cloning is of no more importance to Christianity than any other scientific technology but, rather, an issue that is best addressed dispassionately and without the encumbrances of dogmatic faith.

Attention is called to the simple observation that, throughout its organizational history, Christianity has always opposed any scientific innovation that challenged its dogmatic principles. Should you doubt this contention, you should ask if the Church praised the discovery that, not only was the earth not flat, it was not the center of the solar system? Did the Church celebrate the discovery that comets were physical objects whose behavior could be predicted rather than some omen of an impending disaster? How long did the Church resist the notion that disease was not caused by demons or as a punishment for some sin but was rather due to natural causes such as bacteria? Let us not forget that the Church also condoned slavery as being a part of “God’s will” as well as sanctioned warfare between nations. Given its history, Christianity certainly cannot reject cloning by holding it to be immoral!

As to the technology of cloning, there is an almost universal belief that cloning and related genetic technologies have been effective agents in not only the treatment of chronic diseases such as diabetes or Multiple Sclerosis, but also injuries to the central nervous system that have produced permanent paralysis. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A review of the medical literature will easily confirm that the cloning of human tissue as a treatment modality remains experimental and, probably, decades away from becoming useful.

The issue that should be addressed is rather simple: Does the fact that a given technology exists mean that a technology must be used? On this question, the historical record of the previous century suggests that the hands of science are also dirty. What can we say of the “Eugenics Movement” and its supposed benefits to society by “controlling” the reproduction of the mentally “defective” or “undesirable” members of the State? And what of using the atomic bomb in warfare? Does the simple fact that a technology exists mean that same technology should always be used, even if only marginally justifiable by existing social norms?

Sadly, the available evidence suggests that the debate regarding cloning of human tissues is far from over and that those who self-identify as being “Bible-Believers” or “Fundamentalist Christians” seem to be behind efforts to disrupt anything that conflicts with their  and social medievalism. While it is not argued that all cloning is morally wrong, objections must be raised against those that would constrain such research on the grounds that it is contrary to their personal spiritual beliefs that, for some reason, they feel are so important they should impose on the rest of society. Those beliefs could be deemed to be the most morally objectionable of all.