Scientists “Xerox” First Human

By Wayne Jackson

A week ago, “Advanced Cell Technology”, operating out of Worchester, Massachusetts, announced that a human being had been cloned in its laboratory. The news release sent shock waves across the country and around the world. Protests, from a wide variety of sources, have been enunciated.

President George W. Bush denounced the practice, asserting that cloning a person, in his “judgment” is “morally wrong.” He declared that “we should not, as a society, grow life to destroy it.” The New York Post editorialized that this procedure is “grotesque” and “is no road for humanity to be traveling.”

Both Great Britain and Canada are moving towards a total ban on all attempts at human cloning. In our own nation, the House of Representatives passed a bill banning the ambitious experiments, but when it went over into the Senate, in which liberal Democrats hold the majority, it bogged down big-time. The bill has been “tabled” until sometime next year. And the reason is perfectly transparent. If this little embryonic creature is acknowledged as a “human” being, and its artificial creation is deemed as “immoral,” what does this say about the abortion industry?

But the problem is this — many of those who contend against this “Frankenstein” procedure do not know how to present a solid case against it. They are attempting to argue their position on merely utilitarian grounds, rather than upon a theological basis. And the former can never provide a stable foundation. Let me cite an example.

Dr. Leon Kass (M.D., Ph.D.), a distinguished professor of bioethics at the University of Chicago, and Chairman of President Bush’s advisory council on stem cell research, has voiced strong opposition to the cloning of human beings. He fears that such experimentation has thrust us to the very threshold of what he calls a “post-human future.”

In a recent interview with the journal, Dignity (published by the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, Bannockburn, IL), Dr. Kass contended that human cloning must be opposed — but if the opposition is to be effective — it must be argued on “consequential,” not theological, grounds.

The professor says that attempts to clone humans may produce “a host of resultant maladies,” which could have medical, social, and legal consequences. For example, who knows what sort of biological oddities may result from cloning? And what could be the psychological effects of producing exact replicas of living persons? Might cloned persons have legal claims against those who produced them in this fashion? The new, “post-human” frontier, he opines, could “turn our world upside down” in numerous ways!

With reference to opposing cloning on theological/moral bases, Dr. Kass believes that such an argument “is not likely to be effective in a culture that has increasingly rejected the existence of moral absolutes.”

The problem with this line of reasoning is this: You can’t tailor your case to fit the aberrant ideology of a society that is morally bankrupt. Men and woman need to be confronted with truth, and the truth of the matter is — moral conduct is regulated by the sovereign Maker of the human family, not by the vacillating whims of a fickle society and a degenerate culture.

One can always quibble with purely utilitarian arguments. “Well, I believe,” the pragmatist contends, “that the medical objectives to be accomplished are greater than the potential harm to be done.” This sort of subjective, back-and-forth bantering produces no meaningful conclusion.

The evil of cloning people must be opposed on two grounds.

  1. To clone a human, for the purpose of harvesting stem cells, thus destroying the person, is an act of murder. It violates the principle of the sanctity of human life — that which reflects the very image of God (Gen. 9:6).
  2. The cloning of people within the laboratory seeks to isolate human beings from the husband/wife, family relationship — from the loving, nurturing environment that the Creator intended to be a part of every individual’s life. Cloning involves a most arrogant and selfish “tinkering” with Heaven’s special creation. It represents an effort to “play God.”

This case (that can be argued in significantly greater depth than we’ve had opportunity to do in this brief space), is the one that needs to be laid before the people of this nation. It is the only position that ultimately will stand the test of logical consistency.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.