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A Primer on Human Cloning"How, Why, and Why Not? (Part 2)

By Lisa J. Lehr

And even if we could"

Cloning would not resurrect a deceased family member. Humans, alone created in the image of God, are not merely the sum of our DNA. We are unique products of a complicated interplay of environment, experience, birth order, age and health habits of the mother, and other factors peculiar to humans. Even identical twins, who have most of those characteristics in common, are individual persons with distinct personalities.

Psalm 139:13-16 says, in part, "You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb"I am fearfully and wonderfully made". My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret". Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them." I think this says all that needs to be said about humans being unique and special creations.

I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who said that all that he is, he owes to his mother. That's not merely a nice sentiment; it's probably an accurate commentary on a lot of lives. Let's clone Lincoln"as good a place as any to start. But his mom isn't here, so he wouldn't turn out the same as the Abraham Lincoln of the history books. We would have to clone her, too. But wait, maybe a cloned Mrs. Lincoln wouldn't be the same as the original. So we"d have to clone Grandma"and it goes on ludicrously forever.

More importantly"would it be fair to expect a cloned person to replace the one who was lost? What if that competitive firstborn who was going to be a doctor comes back as a babied late-in-life child whose dream is to be a preschool teacher? Is this child set up to be a disappointment to her parents for not fulfilling the expectations they had of the first version?

So"how do we decide?

Like most momentous discoveries, cloning started as something good and subsequently became distorted. Cloning cows, for example, could result in many copies of one top milk producer. If it worked, this would have wonderful implications for increased efficiency of food production.

Cellular cloning for medical therapies is another goal. Stem cell research has a huge potential"theoretically"for good. Stem cells might be harvested from early-stage embryos, up to 14 days old. They would then be cultured in labs to become transplantable cells or tissue for fighting illness such as diabetes or Parkinson's disease. But the huge potential for bad also exists, as this process presupposes treating the human embryo as a commodity. They would have a purpose only insofar as they were found "useful."

Better yet, differentiated cells from the patient himself could be cultured.

The high demand for donor organs could be relieved through the creation of transgenic animals"animals with human genes added to their own genetic makeup. These animals might provide organs that are less likely to be rejected by the human body than natural animal organs. Cloning would allow these animals to be replicated easily.

What about cloning entire humans? The decision may not have to be made. If we have learned anything, it's that cloning fails miserably.

Conclusion

Medical technology has its limits. The ability to cheat death is one of them. Hebrews 9:27 says, "it is appointed for men to die once." Contrast that with the words of a cloning advocate: "God made man in His own image and His plan for humankind is that we should become one with God". This [cloning] is a significant step in the right direction." If that idea weren't so pathetic, it would be hilarious. One thing that man has had many opportunities to learn, from Biblical times to the present, is that trying to be God is the surest way to provoke His wrath. (Remember what was said of the Titanic: "God Himself could not sink this ship"? Wrong thing to say".)

Death is almost always difficult to accept, but it is part of the human condition. And as death is unavoidable, so is grief. Sometimes we have to ask, Are we doing this because we should? Or just because we can?

About The Author
Lisa J. Lehr is a freelance writer with a specialty in business and marketing communications. She holds a biology degree and has worked in a variety of fields, including the pharmaceutical industry and teaching, and has a particular interest in health matters as well as Christian tradition. She is also a graduate of American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI), America's leading course on copywriting.

This article ©Lisa J. Lehr 2005.


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