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What is the Christian view of cloning?

Question: "What is the Christian view of cloning?" Answer: While the Bible does not specifically deal with the subject of cloning, there are principles in Scripture given which may shed more light on the subject of cloning. First, a brief look should be taken at the process of cloning itself. Cloning requires both DNA and embryo cells in order to take place. First, DNA is removed from the nucleus of a creature’s cell.

The material, bearing coded genetic information, is then placed in the nucleus of an embryonic cell of another creature; the cell receiving the new genetic information would have had its own DNA removed in order to accept the new DNA. If the cell accepts the new DNA, a duplicate embryo is formed. However, the embryo cell may reject the new DNA, and will die. Also, it is very possible that the embryo may not survive having the original genetic material removed from its nucleus. In many cases, when cloning is attempted, several embryos are used at a time, in order to increase the odds of a successful implantation of new genetic material, and therefore, duplication. While it is possible for a duplicate creature to be created in this manner (for example, Dolly the sheep), the chances of successfully duplicating a creature exactly, and without complication is extremely slim.

That said, the process of cloning can be examined in the light of several Scriptural principles: To begin with, human beings are created in the image of God, and therefore, are unique. Genesis 1:26-27, asserts this. If man is created in God’s image and likeness, and is unique among all creations, then that is something to be valued, and not treated like a commercial commodity to sell or to trade. Some people have promoted cloning for the purpose of creating replacement organs for people who need transplants, but cannot find a suitable donor. The thinking is that to take one’s own DNA and create a duplicate organ composed of that DNA would greatly reduce the chances of organ rejection. While this may be true, the problem is that to do so cheapens human life. The process of cloning requires human embryos to be used; while cells can be generated to make new organs, it is necessary to kill several embryos to obtain the required DNA. In essence the cloning would “throw away” many human embryos as “waste material” and with it the chances for those embryos to grow into full maturity. Killing embryos is the same thing as killing persons.

Science asserts that life does not begin at conception (the formation of the embryo). The Bible teaches differently. Psalm 139:13-16 says “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” This refers to the writer being known personally by God before he was born. Further, Isaiah 49:1-5 speaks of God calling Isaiah to his ministry as a prophet while he was still in his mother’s womb. Also, John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit while he was still in the womb (Luke 1:15). All of this points to the Bible’s stand on life beginning at conception. In light of this, cloning, with its destruction of human embryos would not be consistent with the Bible’s view of human life.

Additionally, if man is created, then there must be a Creator, and man is therefore subject and accountable to that Creator. Although popular thinking in the form of secular psychology and humanistic thought would have one to believe that man is accountable to no one other than himself, and that man is the ultimate authority, the Bible teaches differently. The Bible teaches that God created man, and gave man responsibility over the earth (see Genesis 1:28-29, and Genesis 9:1-2). With this responsibility comes the obligation to answer to God. This means that man is not the ultimate authority over himself, and that he is therefore not in a position to make decisions about the value of human life. Neither then is science the authority by which the ethics of cloning, abortion, or euthanasia are decided. According to the Bible, God is the only One who rightfully exercises the sovereign control over human life. To assert control over things like this is to place oneself in God’s position. Clearly man is not to do this.

Again, in thinking that man not a creation, but simply another creature, it is not difficult to look upon human beings as machines or mechanisms which need maintenance and repair. We are not just a collection of organisms, which accidentally occurred, and have remained in place for some time. The Bible clearly teaches that God created each of us, and has a specific plan for each of us. Further, He seeks a personal relationship with each of us, through His Son, Jesus Christ. While there are aspects of cloning which may seem beneficial, mankind has no control over where cloning technology may go. It is foolish to assume that only good intentions will direct the utilization of cloning. Man is not in a position to exercise the responsibility or judgment that would be required to govern cloning of human beings.

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