Quartz Hill School of Theology

Current Diatribe

        The Current Diatribe is an editorial of up to a thousand words on some topic of concern to one of the faculty, students, or staff of Quartz Hill School of Theology. Occasionally, we may have guest diatribes. We welcome comments and will post the more interesting ones as Letters From Readers . We look forward to your reaction and input. All letters submitted will become the property of Quartz Hill School of Theology. Which letters get posted will be entirely up to us and our decisions are final. Letters may be edited for conciseness and to correct minor errors of spelling or grammar.

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Cloning, I'm All For It

by R.P. Nettelhorst

        I have yet to hear either a good rational or a good moral argument in all the uproar against cloning in general, and the cloning of human beings in particular. Yet, that has not stopped most religious groups across the spectrum, and most politicians, from lashing out and intoning that the cloning of human beings is evil.
       Um, could someone show me something biblical that would tell me that cloning is bad? Or give me a rational argument, derived from other moral principals known from the Bible or from reason, that tells me it is an inherently evil act? I'm not interested in appeals to authority or lists of all the decent folks who don't like cloning. Such arguments are specious.
       I don't mean to be obtuse, but emotional arguments, or statements that simply say something akin to "it's evil; everyone knows that." or "it's just evil. Of course it is." are not going to sway me. They are not reasoned arguments at all; instead, they are statements of preference -- of simple taste, if you will. It's fine if you don't like the taste of liver; that's hardly a moral issue, however.
       In the first place, we've been cloning plants for millennia; any cutting taken from a living plant and propagated so that it grows a new plant is a clone. As far as people are concerned, identical twins and triplets are natural clones, and so unless one feels frightened by twins and triplets (which, actually is the case in some cultures), then why should we be opposed to cloning? I mean, if God does it, then how can it be a bad thing? The arguments against cloning strike me as akin to those raised against invitro fertilization, or surrogate motherhood, or contraception in general. Vague statements of protest that argue we "shouldn't be playing God" are entirely specious it seems to me, given that the Bible indicates that the human race has been made in God's image and we have been given dominion. I would in fact suggest that God's purpose for humanity was for it to play God.
       Opposition based on the idea that somehow we shouldn't create life, or that we shouldn't interfere in the creation of life, or that, as one person, Israel's Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, stated, "The moment medical science tries to take upon itself duties and areas which are not its responsibility such as shortening life, cloning, or creating life in an unnatural way we must set down borders in order not to harm the basic belief that there is a creator of the universe in whose hands life and death are placed," doesn't make sense to me, either. Taken to a logical extreme, such arguments seem to suggest anything we do to prolong and improve life would be a bad thing, an interference in what is natural, a playing of God. "Don't give him that shot, it might interfere with the natural propagation of that disease. We wouldn't be wanting to play God or maybe interfere with God's will." That's nonsense, obviously, yet that is the logical end of the arguments I'm hearing.
       I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. It seems to me that opposition to cloning is just one more example in a long list of frightened, ignorant people being afraid of what's new. People have opposed airplanes, space travel, computers, genetic engineering, anesthetics, antibiotics, and the like, using the same sorts of arguments that I'm seeing raised against cloning. I don't like this opposition. I don't understand it. And frankly, it kind of scares me.
       And don't tell me that we should oppose cloning because of the potential bad things that might come from it. Just oppose those bad things then. After all, a baby might grow up to become a serial killer; does that mean we should be opposed to babies?

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