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Cloning is an artificial method of creating a genetically identical duplicate of a human. This involves taking one person’s DNA and making another human with the same DNA. Theologians feel that it is a theological issue and not just science.
Cloning is a controversial issue, and many theologians are opposed to it on the basis that it is like imitating God and the consequences of cloning on human survival may be adverse. Considering the arguments raised by theologians, it is clear that cloning would have negative effects on human society. Despite the limited benefits of allowing for such a practice, the challenges such a practice poses outweigh its anticipated benefits.
The aim of this paper is to establish the implications of cloning on society and understand the theologians are saying about cloning. Cloning can have many implications on society; both positive and negative. Theologians feel that cloning is not a purely scientific issue; it is a religious issue as well. In the majority of theologians view, cloning is unacceptable and should be banned completely.
Many theologians feel that cloning is playing with God because He is above all, and He only can create. They further argue that cloning a person, especially against his/her will is an abuse of the individuals’ freedom and identity. A relatively small number of theologians, however, view cloning differently. They argue that cloning is God continuing His work of creation through people (Turner 13).
Cloning and Implications on society
The prospect of being able to recreate say Napoleon Bonaparte by use of his DNA is an alluring prospect for some scientists. However, these prospects are approached with great care due to the implications they can have on society. At this moment in history, cloning is possible; however, should this practice be entertained in society. The basic worry of theologians and other concerned individuals are the wide ramifications of cloning.
The first concern is how to treat the cloned individual. Given he or she is likely to be treated as a human creation, the cloned person may not be treated as a normal human being. The way clones are treated likely to change the perception of human life. Human life will be devalued and turned into a commodity of sorts that scientists can accord one at will. Society treats life sacredly, and cloning turns it into a sort of manufactured commodity.
The second concern is how society would react to cloned individuals. Clones may not be accepted fully by the society, which might treat them as less than ‘real’ human beings; who was born naturally. Society may not fully accept the dignity and humanity of cloned humans. Even if they have the same legal rights and protect the others have, society may fear and not associate with them because they don’t see them as real humans (Chapman 99).
This may lead the society to split into cloned human beings and naturally born human beings. Women may especially feel opposed cloning because it denies women the right and choice to give birth to children; women are the ones who bear children when it comes to human procreation.
Cloning might lead to many people in the society wanting to clone themselves, their loved ones, children, and other people of a special character such as Mother Theresa, or President Obama. Those who choose to clone a person with special characters or a celebrity will do so, with the aim that they may gain the character traits of that respected person. Such like moves adversely affect individuation in society.
Further, it is considered that cloning offers homosexuals in society a chance to have children of their own. They see human cloning as an important way of making a reproduction of same-sex legal. Apart from homosexuals, there are also many reasons why other members of society might take to cloning.
Some individuals may choose to clone themselves because they want to have an identical other. Others may clone themselves so that they can leave an heir or one who will be able to control their businesses as they did. There are parents who may have a dying child and because they don’t want to lose him/her they choose to clone the child. This is especially for couples who are unable to have more children. All these and more may make cloning acceptable by some individuals in a society (Shannon 125).
What theologians say
Cloning is considered unethical by many moralists and theologians in society because it is perceived to violate the sacredness of human life. Secondly, cloning is unethical because it reduces the genetic diversity of humans. Human clones are a genetically identical copy of another human being. Inbreeding of genetically identical individuals leads to higher chances of birth defects.
Also, cloning is considered unethical because it can unnaturally increase the population of the world in a boom, which will lead to an increase in poverty. While a mother has the only capacity to carry one pregnancy, one cloning lab can churn out millions of clones in a year. If accepted, for other ulterior reasons, e.g. military expediency, cloning can be accelerated. The increased population will have insurmountable pressure on food resources.
Theologians say that human life is sacred. They feel that manufacturing children through somatic cell transfer will be experimenting on human beings (Himes 29). Human cloning cannot succeed unless scientist experiment on the human matter. Human life is more important than technology and the creation of human beings can only be done by God as the theologians put it (Chapman 99). Therefore, theologians oppose cloning because they believe that to protect the sanctity of life, human reproduction should not be tampered with.
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According to the anti-cloning theologians, cloning affects or tempers the dignity of human life and reproduction because children ought to be a product of love shared in a matrimonial union. Human life is viewed by most theologians as a mystery; life is the breath of God that enlivens matter. God is the creator of human beings and He creates all in his image and likeness. Therefore, theologians as disturbed and wonder if cloned human beings would still be God’s own image.
In addition, it is true that a human clone would be distinct from its DNA donor. This creates a theological dilemma because the clone and the donor cannot share their bodies, minds, and souls no matter how identical they are made to be (Rantala & Milgram 21-22). The clone as a distinct ‘human being’ is a theological dilemma because he or she will not be God’s creation in the strict sense. However, by his or her individuality, the clone deserves or demands human dignity and respect.
Conclusively, theologians feel that cloning is crossing the line and going into the area that is only meant for God. They say that God is powerful, and human beings are smaller than Him because he created them. Because of this, human beings should accept that there are things that they cannot do. Cloning is playing God and wanting to be like Him. Theologically, it is related to the falling into the temptation of eating of the tree of knowledge, which God had sternly warned humans against (Jones & Byrne 77).
Some theologians, very few in numbers, are not fully opposed to the cloning business. This group of theologians supports any technological innovation which improves on nature. Although acknowledging that cloning is one area that is very sensitive, they feel that cloning may be acceptable in given circumstances. They urge that the theological dilemmas can be diffused. The diffusion is possible if it is understood that cloning is God doing his work of creation through people (Lauritzen 189).
Cloning is romantically exciting in some circles. However, after taking into account the implications of cloning on society and what the theologians say about cloning, this issue has to be approached with as much sobriety as may be mastered. The big question would be why people may be interested in cloning. The second big question is in line with what happens once human clones become a reality.
Considering the dilemma of how to regard clones in comparison to naturally born human beings, cloning has to be avoided. In terms of implications on society, the bad implications outweigh the good implications. As theologians point out, cloning devalues human dignity. Secondly, it leads to problems in terms of how to treat clones. Therefore; it would only be fair if cloning were not done.
Chapman, Audrey R. Unprecedented Choices: Religious Ethics at the Frontiers of Genetic Science. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999
Himes, Kenneth R. Responses to 101 Questions on Catholic Social Teaching. Mahwah: Paulist Press, 2001
Jones, Gareth, & Mary Byrne. Stem Cell Research and Cloning: Contemporary Challenges to Our Humanity. Australia: ATF Press, 2005
Lauritzen, Paul. Cloning and the Future of Human Embryo Research. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001
Rantala, M. L., and Arthur, Milgram, J. Cloning: For and Against. Chicago: Open Court Publishing, 1999
Shannon, Thomas A. Reproductive Technologies: A Reader. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004
Turner, Ronald C. Human Cloning: Religious Responses. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1997