Are Cloned Humans Spiritual?

The media has been full of scientific and pseudoscientific articles dealing with the cloning of higher forms of life. First it was Dolly the sheep and now there have been rabbits and mice in the literature. There have also been reincarnations of stories like "The Boys of Brazil" which suggest the possibility of cloning a whole army of Hitlers, not to mention reports of humans without heads being cloned for the purpose of organ transplants. All of this has led to a confused public as the stories get wilder and wilder and the claims get more and more obscure.

Cloning is not new. Clones from fetal cells have been known for a long time, and in a sense twins represent a kind of clone. Producing clones from adult cells is new, but the implications are still basically the same. In very simple terms the genetic material from a cell is transplanted into an evacuated cell so that what results is a form containing whatever the genetic material that was transplanted dictates. The things that the genetic material can dictate are physical criteria. In the case of Dolly the sheep in which an embryo was produced, what has been produced is a physical sheep that is like the adult from which the genetic material was taken. It has the same color and texture of wool, the same eyes, ears, and nose and, if there are genetic defects in the adult from which the genetic material was taken, those defects will be in the cloned sheep as well.

Could this be done with a human being? The answer from a scientific standpoint is definitely yes. There is no physical reason why this could not eventually be done. Should this be done? From a purely medical standpoint, an argument can be made that in some situations it should be done. Genetic diseases are being identified on nearly a daily basis. Hemophilia was perhaps one of the early problems that humans have that was identified as being genetic in cause, but now we see more and more problems of humans being identified as genetic in nature. Already possible cures for some of these problems like cystic fibrosis are being worked on from a genetic standpoint. In theory, in the future someone with cancer of the liver might be able to be cured by cloning another liver for transplant purposes from unaffected cells.

Ethics and religious issues also become a problem when one considers an area of this kind. I recently heard a discussion about how cloning could be used to help families who find it impossible to have children. The idea was that a baby could be cloned from one or both of their genetic materials solving infertility and avoiding some of the costly and difficult alternatives that are available in our society. Would a child produced in this way be a human? Would it be a spiritual being capable of all the things all other humans have available to them as far as their relationship to God and to eternal life?

Part of the problem in this kind of discussion lies in a person's personal understanding of what the purpose of sex is and what is involved in having a baby. In the past there have been those who have felt that sexual relationships are only for the purpose of precreation and that there is no other reason for two people to have sex than to have a baby. It is difficult to read Biblical passages like 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 or Proverbs 5:19 and come to this conclusion. The coming together of two people to "one flesh" brings a special relationship to the two people. In 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 Paul discusses a relationship with a prostitute, and condemns it not on the basis of the production of a child or the contracting of a sexually transmitted disease, but rather on the basis of what it does to a person's relationship to God. Having children should not be an accident, but a decision made separate and apart from one's sexual involvement with another. To confuse the sexual relationship with the conscious deliberate planned attempt to have a baby is to not understand God's intent and the real meaning of sexual relations.

If having a child is a conscious decision of two adults who are willing to love, nurture and care for the child throughout its life then the method of the baby's conception is not an issue. As the father of three adopted children I have never focused on the physical processes that culminated in my children being conceived, but the fact that I have a relationship with them because I chose to have them as my children and to do all I could to raise them to be productive human beings. All Biblical passages approach child raising in this way, and no Biblical example or teaching addresses the question of how the child was conceived. In ancient Israel there were many cases where a child was raised by a man and his wife when the child's biological parents were killed, and this was in fact a part of the teachings of the culture.

The skeptic may still respond that I have not in this discussion addressed the question of whether the child has a soul. Is it possible to have a human without a soul? If a person believes that the soul is a product of the mind and is thus biologically determined, this question might be valid. A person without a mind or without a developed mind would not possess a soul. This is the basis on which many people justify abortion. The argument is that if the mind has not developed there is no soul and you are not killing a human being but rather an extension of the woman's body. The same argument could be made for a person who has Alzheimer's disease or some extreme cases of mental illness. The soul is not a physically determined characteristic. The existence of the soul can be seen in what man does -- his creative ability, his desire to worship, his ability to feel guilt and sympathy. Animals do not do these things no matter how intelligent they are or whether they are raised in human homes or not, and retarded human beings no matter how severely retarded they may be do participate in them.

Man's soul is something given by God and is not dependent on the condition of the human body. There is no question as to whether or not humans are complete and functional spiritually before birth. In the Bible and in scientific investigations in modern times, there is abundant evidence that spiritual responses nd thinking responses to what is happening in the baby's world are made long before birth. Babies born to women who have been abused by their husbands will scream and be traumatized by hearing the fathers voice after birth. Experiments have been done that show babies remember events going on in the outside world long after they are born. In Luke 1:44 we see that the baby in Elizabeth's womb "Lept for joy" to the presence of Mary. Ecclesiastes 11:5 talks about without answering the question, the way God brings the soul into the baby. James 2:26 associates human life with the presence of the spiritual component. (We have had articles in more depth on this subject. If you do not have them and would like them, send us a postage paid envelope with a note requesting abortion articles and we will send them to you.)

If God is the one that places the soul in the human thus making the person human, then it is God that does the placing at the time and method of His choice. God has not indicated any situation in which He will not place a soul. A person conceived by artificial insemination or in vitro methods would not be left out of this process. God is not limited to physical processes of any kind. Even the conception of Jesus Christ was accomplished by a method that did not involve normal biological conception. No matter how a person is conceived or developed, they are a spiritual being. If man learns enough about the methods God has created to copy a part of it and perhaps even correct some of the damage that man has brought upon himself, that will not make those produced less than human. How we came into existence is not the issue. This issue iswhat will we do with what we have and how will we respond to God's plans for man upon the earth. All of us no matter how we have been conceived or what has happened to us need to make sure that "Our spirit bears witness with God's Spirit that we are children of God" ( Romans 8:16). Cloning might eventually bring solutions to problems of disease, infertile couples, and a variety of disabilities. It is not something that should be taken lightly, but Christians need to be involved in the ethics and decisions about how these new techniques are to be used.

--John N. Clayton

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