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TITLE: Human Cloning
TEXT: Psalm 8:3-9
PROPOSITION: Are there moral and biblical issues involved in human cloning?
KEY WORD: Arguments
SCRIPTURE READING: Same
- April 25, 1953 James Watson and Francis Crick - DNA identified
- At first - gene therapy = substituting bad genes for good ones
- diseases and genetic defects
- Genetic engineering = selecting eyes, sex, hair color, etc.
- Now emphasis is on procreation - cloning
- Next area - creation of new life forms - combine genes to form a NEW animal
- Clone = derives from the Greek klon, meaning a sprout or twig
- This is asexual reproduction (an amoeba divides = two identical)
- In one technique known as nuclear transfer, an unfertilized egg is taken from the female, and its nucleus is either destroyed (e.g., by radiation) or removed. The nucleus from a body cell then is placed in the egg, which, when implanted in the uterus, behaves as if it has been fertilized, except that all of its genetic information has been derived from a single individual rather than a pair of parents.
- Hello Dolly - Ian Wilmut, Scottish scientist produced a lamb using genetic material from the mammary cell of an adult ewe. The young lamb, named Dolly, did not owe her existence to a procreative act occurring between a ram and an ewe.
- Several are now promising human cloning within 18 months. (Technological imperative = if it can, it must be done)
Cloning - Why bother?
Some questions to ask
Why would anyone want to clone a human in the first place?
If attempts at cloning humans are successful, would a clone be an exact duplicate of the original?
Will we eventually be able to clone humans?
Most importantly, would humans produced by cloning possess a soul?
Why would we want a cloned human?
Parents desire to replace a child lost to illness or accident
In need of compatible organs - kidney, bone marrow
Guarantee immortality - have myself cloned
Scientists - win acclaim, Nobel Prize, meet the challenge
Would a clone be identical to the parent?
Humans are more than a bag of genes.
Factors of who we are include - training, experience, encouragement, friends, environment
Identical twins are more alike than clone/parent. Share same training, parents, environment, social life, etc.
Will scientists clone a human?
I do not know.
I do know - they will try - Because it is there.
Three staff writers for U.S. News & World Report posed the question, Would a cloned person have its own soul?, and answered it as follows: Most theologians agree with scientists that a human clone and its DNA donor would be separate and distinct persons. That means each would have his or her own body, mind, and soul
Should we clone humans?
Evolutionist Gunther Stent of the University of Southern California stated: The idea of cloning humans is morally and aesthetically completely unacceptable (as quoted in Howard and Rifkin, 1977, pp. 125-126).
Compare that with the comment of Christian ethicist Randy Harris of David Lipscomb University: Although there has been a good deal of rhetoric on the evils that are just ahead, I have yet to hear a cogent ethical argument as to why even the cloning of a human would be wrong (1997, p. 16).
Cogent Ethical Arguments against human cloning
Cloning's Failures Represent Dead Human Beings
In cloning Dolly - 277 attempts = 1 sheep
Human embryos = human beings
Medical ethics require that the experiment be to the subject's benefit.
Suppose the failure rate is cut in half. 139 people die to produce one success.
Who would consent to a surgery - 1 in 139 chance of success?
In the process of Dolly - many abnormalities, mothers died, some born with serious deformities
So, what are the dangers?
Experience with the five mammal species that have been cloned so far indicates that Zavos and Antinori have almost no chance of success.
The vast majority of pregnancies involving clones have gone very badly. In most of them, the clone has died and in almost all of them the lives of the mother and clone have been put at risk.
In many cases, the clone grows abnormally large, often threatening to tear the womb that can also become swollen with fluid. Almost all clone pregnancies spontaneously abort.
Dolly the sheep, the first mammal clone, was the one success in 277 pregnancies. If a human clone is produced, the cost in human suffering and the trail of failures will be large.
What if a human clone is born?
Of the small number (about 1%) of the animal clones that make it to term, most have severe abnormalities: malfunctioning livers, abnormal blood vessels and heart problems, underdeveloped lungs, diabetes, immune system deficiencies and possibly hidden genetic defects. Several cow clones had head deformities - none survived very long.
It would be fair to say that experts are amazed in the few instances that cloning has worked.
Human life, as a gift from God (Acts 17:25), is sacred.
God hates hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-17)
Further, in examining the ethical issues surrounding procedures such as these, the implications of the various technologies must be acknowledged. For example, if cloning were possible:
- It could be used to provide children for unmarried people.
- Parents could pre-select the sex (and many other attributes) of their children.
- Women's liberation would be complete, since no male would be needed. The old Cockney saying, It takes a man to make a girl, no longer would be true.
- Large batches of human clones could be made for statistical studies.
- Clones could be produced in order to harvest spare parts for transplants (e.g., bone marrow, organs, etc.).
- People enamored of their own importance could ensure that exact genetic replicas of themselves were brought into existence via cloning-by tens or hundreds if they so desired.
It is through the family unit (which includes both a husband and wife in the procreative act) that God intended for children to be brought into this world. According to divine design, marriage is to precede the bearing of children (1 Timothy 5:14).
And it is not by accident that Moses recorded: And the man knew Eve, his wife; and she conceived... (Genesis 4:1)
Attempts at human cloning are dangerous.
Attempts at human cloning violate medical and moral ethics.
Attempts at human cloning will create suffering and death to many people.
Attempts at human cloning will interfere with God's design and plan.
Attempts at human cloning are contrary to the moral values in the Bible.
NOTE: Much of the material for this lesson was obtained from Reason and Revelation, May and June 1997.
These issues are on the web at:
I have also quoted from the BBC, Friday, 9 March, 2001, 13:46 GMT Cloning humans: Can it really be done?
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