Indus School Apologetics Textbook No. -- 50
Implications Of Cloning
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Though the scientific community has been conducting a lot of secret (and not so secret) researches into the area of reproduction, the general public has remained unaware of most of it. Even most people in the medical profession learn of these things only after the breakthroughs arrive in their office through the commercial establishments. However, the cloning of a sheep has created at least some awareness that perhaps all is not well with researches into reproductive technologies.
Unethical manipulation of reproductive technologies will ultimately create much agony and pain for the human beings. Though each technological breakthrough brings some profit, many bring harm more than benefit. Perhaps cloning of mammals, and the eventual cloning of humans can be placed in this category where the harm would be more. Thus it is necessary that even lay people should get informed about these developments.
I am very happy to note the work done by Dr. Johnson C. Philip in the present book. Though he is capable of presenting a highly technical and philosophical discussion, I appreciate that he has attempted to come down to the level of the average reader. He has succeeded in this task quite well.
May God use this book to open the eyes of many so that they might step into these areas only with much discernment.
Dr. Benjamin Abraham
M.D, D.C.H, D.C.H, D.C.H
Though many in the last two decades have made claims about successful cloning, none of them produced as much response as the cloning of the sheep named "DOLLY".
With newspapers and media competing with each other in announcing that cloning of humans is just at the door, everyone has begun to take notice. Atheists rejoice at the hope of demolishing the idea of a Creator-God, while theists worry about their cherished ideas. However, there is another group which is interested in learning hearing a sensible discussion of the subject.
The present book is written mainly for the third group -- the group that is interested in knowing about the science, ethics, spirituality, and the moral implications of the supposedly new breakthroughs. I have tried to make the presentation as simple as possible so as to make this book accessible even to the persons not trained in science. All what is expected is that the reader would have a 10th standard of school education. At the same time, the scientific information is kept accurate so that the book might serve as a resource even to technically oriented people.
We keep revising the text to reflect the latest information. Readers are encouraged to write back with their suggestions as to how this book might be improved.
Dr. Johnson C. Philip
What Is Cloning
The ability to reproduce and multiply is an important characteristics of living organisms, whether they are plants, animals or humans. In many plants and animals we can see asexual reproduction taking place. However the most commonly known reproductions are all sexual in nature, where both the male as well as the female are involved.
Reproducing mammals and humans without the joint help of males and females is called cloning. Theoretically it is possible to recreate an entire animal or human from a single cell, and that is why cloning is often called a process of carbon-copying or Xeroxing. Just as a carbon-copy is identical with the original, a clone would also be identical with the original creature.
While theoretically it is possible for scientists to think of creating an entire creature from a single cell, there are many practical barriers. Many have been experimenting with these barriers now for over a century, and finally a breakthrough has been achieved in sheep and monkeys.
The Existence Of Natural Cloning:Though cloning of mammals succeeded only in 1977, scientists received their clue to the possibility of cloning much easier from nature itself. For example, when a farmer breaks off a branch from a tree and obtains an entirely new one by planting it in the ground, it is an asexual reproduction. Thus it is a type of cloning.
There are a variety of asexual multiplication in plants and trees, and farmers and gardeners use these methods regularly and without any surprise. That is because this capacity for direct cloning has been built into these plants by the Creator himself.
In humans also a similar process takes place when twins are formed in a mother's womb. Once the sperm and the ovum merge with each other, a single cell is formed. This cell then grows and divides itself into a bi-cellular stage. Then these grow and change into a four-cellular stage, eight-celled organism, and so on. All during these stages of growth, all these cells are intimately united with each other, and are a single person -- the child to be born. However, sometimes mistakes do take place during cell division.
In rare cases, the cells not only divide themselves, but also get separated from each other. Each fragment then starts functioning as an individual human being, and grows to the full human baby from that stage. This is why some women give birth to two or more identical children. They are identical because they came into existence by the division of a single cell. They are copies of each other.
When a single cell splits up into two identical cells or more, and when each one grows independently, this is cloning. Though the sexual process produces only one life, the splitting up produces more than one person asexually. We do not marvel at this because this is a process for which God himself has given the capacity to human beings. Further, HE himself has made provisions for the safe growth of the multiple embryos. It is totally different matter, however, to mimic these in a scientific laboratory.
Though certain kinds of cloning are already available in nature, this does not automatically justify man's attempt at cloning other organisms. The very fact that only certain types of cloning are available in nature indicates some kind of a boundary. Boundaries are indicated in Genesis when God says that living creatures should reproduce after their kind.
The need for respecting boundaries are indicated in the Scriptures where mixing of certain plants and animals are forbidden. These boundaries are also indicated through the commands that forbid humans from having sexual relationships with animals.
It must be noticed that in each of the forbidding commands above, there are no natural physical barriers. Thus multiple seeds can easily be sown together. Human-Animal sexual relationship is physically possible. God has not created any physical barriers to prevent these. But perhaps all the results would ultimately be disastrous. We do not known the full implications, but it is very clear that what has been forbidden in the Scriptures places certain moral boundaries around our actions.
Scriptures forbid many activities not because they are impossible, but
rather because they are improper. They are wrong either morally, or
technically, or even in both ways.
Why Is Cloning Possible: Cloning, or asexual reproduction, is possible because each cell of a living organism contains all the information that is necessary for the development and nurturing of the entire organism. Thus if somehow man is able to use the genetic information from a single cell, he can create the entire creature out of it. This information resides on the genes.
To understand this it would be helpful to look at a cell of a mammal. A living cell is a very complex factory, having (what we can call) tens of thousands of machines and hundreds of thousands of components. Out of this let us consider only two major parts: the cell and the nucleus. The nucleus contains many components, with the most important being the Chromosomes. The chromosomes carry the DNA, the carrier of genetic information. The DNA on a single human cell contain enough information to fill an entire set of the Encyclopedia Britannica (30 volumes). These DNA contain all information about how his organs are going to function, and numerous such information needed to make him a functioning living being.
Though all cells contain the same number of Chromosomes, the reproductive cells contain only half as much. Thus when a sperm and ovum unite, half of the chromosomes are contributed by each parent. Thus in each child there is a mixture of ancestral chromosomes, and this mixing process ensures that most of the harmful genetic diseases are kept in control.
Since each and every cell contains all the information necessary to create the entire creature, allowing the cell to multiply and grow should result in a mature creature from a single cell. This is the principle behind cloning. This is how a plants grow from stems cut from them. This is how a single cell, when accidentally separated into two, gives rise to identical twins. The capacity for a type of cloning is built into these organisms. But even here there are some restrictions.
To get a new
plant from a stem, it has to have a certain minimum maturity. A stem lying
outside this range would not grow roots and leaves in most cases.
Similarly, twins are formed in humans only when certain favourable
conditions are present, but not otherwise.
Why Is Cloning Difficult: Cloning is not difficult at all in those plants and animals in which God has given them a capacity for doing so. We only have to observe certain restrictions like choosing a mature stem in the case of plants.
Cloning is more difficult, but still possible, in certain reptiles. It must be noted, however, that many of these reptiles already have the capacity for asexual reproduction. Since the capacity of asexual reproduction is built into them, this results in relative relative ease in cloning them in the laboratory. The case of mammals and humans is different.
In mammals and the humans the cells acquire specific responsibilities after crossing a threshold. This might be after the I6-cell stage, or a bit before or after that. Before reaching the threshold, which varies from organism to organism, all the cells are identical. A mature replica of the original creature can be reproduced from any of these cells at this stage. But after crossing the threshold, the cells start to specialize. It is the same original cell with all the original DNA but now one becomes a skin cell, and yet another a nerve cell.
Once a cell starts functioning as a specialized cell, it somehow turns "off" all the genetic information not needed by it. Thus even though it contains all the original genetic material, all the non-relevant information becomes dormant. Thus even if it is grown by some process, it would not be able to grow the original creature out of it. Skin cells would multiply only into skin cells, and nerves only into nerve cells -- though they actually contain all the chromosomes and all the genetic information inside them. This is the difficulty in cloning mammals from their matured cells.
In mammals and humans only their reproductive cells (sperms and ova) make all the information available that resides on their chromosomes. Thus it has been possible for scientists to perform many kinds of surgical manipulations upon sperms and ova, but the same could not be done on mature non-reproductive cells due to their specialization.
(after a certain growth) is a definite barrier kept by the Creator in all
kinds of organisms. Cloning a new creature from these specialized cells
has been a very difficult task because of this barrier. But now even this
barrier has been overcome in some mammals, though only time will tell
whether it will ultimately result in good or bad.
The History of Cloning
The idea of cloning was popularized in I932 when Aldous Huxley wrote his book Brave New World. It must be noticed that Huxley was here drawing the picture of a Godless mankind that tries to control its own future.
Though Huxley was the first to use the concept of cloning in a book, work leading to its success started in the last century itself in the form of reproductive technologies. The first recorded successful experiment in reproductive technology was performed by Walter Heape. He was a Cambridge University scientist, and he was able to transfer an embryo into the uterus of an animal other than its natural mother. This took place as far back as in 1890. This is why in the introduction of this book I mentioned that much research has been going on secretly for very long in the field of reproduction.
By 1930 scientists realized that this approach can be used commercially for breeding animals with desirable traits. Thus from 1930 onwards scientists began to fertilize animal ova in laboratory glassware, which were then implanted into surrogate animals. This process has become so common that today most domestic cows produce offsprings using this technique. This process eventually led to what are now called "Test Tube Babies". These are babies produced by fertilizing the ovum in laboratory glassware and then by implanting them into a woman.
Cloning the same animals was more difficult than this, and the first success came in 1952, sixty two year after the first successful animal experiment in artificially assisted reproduction. In '52, Robert Briggs and Thomas King were able to extract tadpole cells and develop full frogs from them. From here onwards there were plenty of developments in animal and plant cloning. Of these two, the plant cloning became a commercial success in the form of tissue culture. Animal cloning, on the other hand, could not succeed in mammals and other higher organisms. Nor could it succeed in humans, though many scientists were fascinated by the whole idea. There are records showing that many scientists secretly kept trying to clone humans.
In the nineties many scientists were successful in cloning mammals using the twin-formation phenomena seen in nature. They would take a single-celled fertilized egg, allow it to become bi-cellular, and would them carefully separate these two cells from each other. These are again allowed to multiply to two, and are then divided again. This way they were able to produce many offsprings from a single fertilized egg. However, they discovered that even here there are practical limits to how many clones can be produced from a single embryo.
In the nineties itself scientists at the George Washington University in the USA were able to do the same kind of embryonic cloning in humans. However, all this cloning in animals and humans was achieved with the help of reproductive cells or embryos. The desire in their hearts was to clone mammals and humans using ANY cells from the body. The greatest hurdle, as we discussed before, was specialization.
The greatest hurdle in producing a clone from other cells was their "specialization". Though each cell or an organism contains ALL the information needed to develop and sustain the full organism, all this information has gone into a state of "sleep" in these cells. Consequently, a skin cell remembers only how to grow more skin cells, and a cell from other parts of the body remembers information only for growing into parts of that organ.
Wilmut of the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh in Scotland, however, was
successful for the first time to "waken up" the sleeping genes,
and break the barrier. He realized that if ALL the genes in a specialized
cell are forced to "sleep" and then given a chance to start the
process of life from the beginning, then perhaps all of them would
"wake up". Soon the scientific team tried this approach and
succeeded in doing what others had been dreaming for decades.
How Did They Do It: To achieve his goal, Dr. Wilmut took cells from the udder of a six-year old pregnant sheep. He then placed these in a salt solution and "starved" them. In this hostile environment the genes were not able to function, so almost all of them went into a state of "sleep" or hibernation.
Then Dr. Wilmut took unfertilized ova from another sheep and removed the nucleus from each one of them. Once this was done, he fused one "sleeping" cell each with one nucleus-less ovum. Since the purpose of the ovum is to provide an atmosphere in which a nucleus can grow into an adult animal of that species, this atmosphere provided by the ovum woke up the sleeping genes. This combination started behaving like an embryo, and this was implanted into a third sheep. There it grew, and a sheep named Dolly was born after the gestation period was over.
What was surprising here is that Dolly had only one parent, instead of the normal two. Only the sheep that provided the nucleus is the parent (or twin) of the offspring. The two others have no parental relationship because they only provided the support, but no genes came from them. Thus was born Dolly the first mammal to be successfully cloned.
While the news of Dolly was being discussed by the media, another news came that Dr. Don Wolf of Oregon in USA successfully cloned two monkeys -- though full details are yet to be given to the press. Once all this news became public, guesswork already set into motion about cloning humans. Though scientists are very cautious and secretive about discussing their work, it is not difficult to guess that work on human cloning has already been going on secretly and illegally in many laboratories.
Though the American President immediately hinted at the plan for some kind of ban on cloning experiments, and though there is an outcry from scholars all over against cloning, none of this might halt cloning experiments. History is our witness that many scientists continue to do illegal research in spite of all kinds of bans. Also, many large drug, cosmetic, and other consumer product manufacturers continue to explore these areas illegally because there is enormous money and profit for them in these breakthroughs.
example for the above observation is Dr. Ian Wilmut himself. He carried
his work with government funds, and the total expenditure came to over
Rs.25,000,000. Now the government of his country has announced withdrawal
of financial support. But what is intriguing is that this support would be
withdrawn only 14 months AFTER he made announcements about the success of
cloning. Obviously, these months would be used for further developments,
and by the time the cut off date arrives, the atmosphere might change and
everyone would favour cloning !! Such is the way in which the scientific
community often cheats people and overcomes their resistance against
The Uses of Cloning
Human history is our witness that man has been able to exploit every technological breakthrough both for good or for evil. Some of the uses to which even simple discoveries have been put was beyond human imagination at the point of discovery.
Cloning is a very recent breakthrough, and a very radical one at that. Thus we can only guess the ways in which it can be used or it might be exploited. However, the actual ways in which people use this breakthrough in future might defy even the wildest imaginations. Further, since in this case the scientists are dealing with issues of life and death, they are aware of the possible resistance from society. Thus most of them are silent about the ways they propose to use the present breakthrough.
In the light of the above mentioned constraints, what we present below is only an evaluation based upon the information available so far. The actual developments might be much more dangerous, horrific, and awful. It all depends upon who controls the cloning industry in the coming years. Here are some of the proposed uses:
I. Improved Animal Varieties: Plant and animal breeders have been pressing creation to its limits to yield maximum agricultural or farm products. Today's agricultural and animal farms yield hundreds of times what was available just a century ago. Yet the industry is not satisfied. They would like to push the boundaries further, and such people see cloning as a very useful breakthrough.
Plant and animal breeders feel that using cloning techniques they can get larger amounts of meat, eggs, milk and other similar products. For example, just a few grams of cells from the highest yielding cow would be sufficient to produce tens of thousands of replicas. Since the genes of only a single animal is involved, and since there is no mixing of genes from another animal, the end-product would be as good as the original. There is no fear that a mixing of genes might decrease the quality of the end-product.
In fact the above is already being done by splitting high breed embryos many times. However, even this is a lengthy process, and there is a limit to the number of times that a single embryo can be split up. In comparison, animal cloning is going to be much more easy, and there is no upper limit upon the number of offsprings that can be produced from a single source. Thus cloning would become commercially the most attractive and profitable option for breeders.
2. Consumer Products From Cloned Embryos: Medicine has reached such a state that it is able to use tissues from embryos for treating many kinds of physical disorders and sicknesses. (of course many of these objectionable methods of treatment were developed in secret, but by now they have already received acceptance in many places in the medical and scientific community).
For example, the brain cells of an embryo injected into people with certain degenerative diseases, result in unusual levels of cure. In some cases this seems to be the only treatment at present, and plenty of people are eager to get brain cells from a fetus. The demand, the money, and the technology is there, but the fetuses are not available.
Bone-marrow transplant is another common procedure undertaken these days. Yet sufficient amount of bone marrow is not available today. In both of the above cases people have suggested that medical companies should "grow" human clones to a certain stage and then extract their brain cells and bone marrow. Even Dr. Wilmut agrees that this is one way in which cloning can be used by the industry. There is no concern here for the moral and ethical issues. The human child is seen only as identical to the chicken in the poultry farm near one's house, the fate of which is consumption by hungry humans.
There are certain non-medical possibilities also. For example, it is known that many cosmetic manufacturers in the developing countries add the ground up flesh of aborted babies in some of their most powerful and expansive cosmetic products. Though public outcry against this practice has dampened their enthusiasm, the availability of "cloned" embryos (that can be ground into a paste at a very early stage) can motivate many of them to return to the practice once again.
Then there is a very horrifying practice developing in some countries: that of consuming aborted babies as food. The practice came to light first of all in China, and in the last two years newspapers have reported this news widely. This addiction to embryonic flesh can soon spread to other countries also -- specially when one can say in good conscience that it is not the flesh of a "real" baby.
The above paragraph might produce too much shock, but I cannot help it. Reality can be stranger than fiction, and it is true here. In fact when the news of people eating human fetuses (for the taste and presumed medical benefits) was published, a lady doctor from China was on her way to establish a target by consuming a total of 1000 aborted fetuses. When this has happened widely in China, it is foolish to overlook this possibility when cloning makes human embryos and fetuses easily available for any purpose whatsoever.
3. For Transplantation: Transplantation of organs has become a widespread practice the last three decades, and they give a new lease of life to numerous people. However, with the increasing success comes greater demand for more such surgeries. Also, as the number of transplantable organs increases, the total number of needed transplantations increases further. In fact the threshold has been crossed in almost all countries.
Today the number of available organs is not even one third of the demand for them. Traditionally organs are taken only from victims of accidental deaths, and that also only if the relatives of the dead person permit such removal. Obviously, this source is too inadequate now while the demand keeps on increasing. The increasing demand, and the financial profit for both the doctors as well as the hospitals has meant that they would start looking for alternate sources for fresh organ donation (or even organ "harvesting").
One alternative source these days is babies that are aborted live. Another alternative is babies born normally, but found to be not having the complete brain. Most of these babies die within six to twenty four hours after birth. There are plenty of doctors who argue that we should look at these babies not from a human point of view but from a utilitarian one. Thus they suggest that we should not wait for these babies to die naturally (by which time most organs might become useless for transplantation), but that even while they are alive we should harvest all the useful organs and other material from them.
In fact many surgeons and researchers in the west have already been doing the above, sometimes even without giving any anesthetic to the baby. However, this practice has not yet become widespread because of opposition form the religious and the intellectual community. Yet under pressure of constant propaganda many people in these communities are becoming less hostile to the above unethical practices. Using this lax situation many have already begun suggesting that cloning be used for developing organs for transplantation. According to this new argument, they claim that a large number of babies must be cloned and their organs must be used to meet the demand in the transplantation market. They claim that since these babies are "grown" by a cultivator, like any other item grown in a farm, none else should worry about what is done with these babies.
4. Other Uses: History is our witness that aberrant minds discover aberrant uses for almost all potent discoveries and inventions. The pornographic industry is one good example. They exploited printing, photography, audio, cinema, video, and Internet media before others could even think of these applications. They discovered pornographic uses for even a new technology called "virtual reality" much before this technology could become commercially available. The same would be the fate of cloning.
With the increasing grip of monopolistic businesses and criminals over consumer market, there is no telling in which direction they might lead a product. Worse, with the decreasing moral commitment in scientific and medical professions one cannot predict all they ways in which these professions would cooperate with the criminal elements in society. We already have a sample in how medical doctors and criminals have joined forces in some places to remove healthy organs from unsuspecting healthy victims. These organs are then sold for transplantation in organs black-markets.
Since cloning gives the ability to develop an entire animal or a human, an unholy alliance between technology and crime can spell doom for the society. When Saddam Hussain is said to have created several look-alikes of himself even before the era of cloning, it is not difficult to imagine the situation if cloning of humans becomes possible.
there are many ways in which the society can use cloning. But if past
experience is any measure, then the criminal and aberrant use of cloning
would outweigh good uses.
Implications of Cloning
In this chapter we take a look at the consequences of cloning . It must not be forgotten, however, that cloning humans has not been successful at the time of writing this.
Our discussion is thus based upon the collective experience and observations of the past one hundred years of experiments with reproductive technologies. Thus the discussions in this and the following chapters stand upon very firm observation, yet at the same time all this discussion might turn out to be an underestimate of things to come.
In the past it has been observed that the consequences of future discoveries can be guessed with reasonable accuracy. But at the same time our past experience shows also that almost all such guesses are underestimates. In the case of technologies that can be used for good as well as for evil, the evil uses have always surpassed anybody's thoughts. Since this phenomenon has been witnessed consistently throughout the development of modern science (the last 500 years), it applies to cloning too. Thus the evil uses and consequences of cloning might far outweigh the good uses.
1. Cloning And The Aging Process: Though the quantity of genes remains identical in a person whether he is in a singlecelled embryonic form or in a 90 year old stage, the two stages of life are not identical in any way. The effects of aging are clearly visible even to the most untaught person.
For hundreds of years the scientists have been struggling to discover the factors that control the process of aging. The final answers are not yet here, yet at least few things are now clear. For example, at present there are very strong reasons to believe that genes have an intimate connection with aging.
This means that though the sum total of genes in a person at the age of 9 and 90 is the same, there are definitely some qualitative differences. Thus in all probability, the genes of a 40 year old person would always try to behave according to their age, even if they are put into the cell of a fresh (few days old) ovum. Though scientists have now discovered the method of "waking up" sleeping genes, they are unable to undo or reverse the effects of aging on genes. In fact they do not even know how this process of aging is recorded into genes.
In the light of the above, a cloned human (or animal) would have at least three kinds of ages: The physical age, the genetic age, and the actual age. Since a cloned person is born as an infant (and not as a grown-up person) his age from birth would be reckoned just as it is done for any human. This is called the "Physical age". However, the genes in his cells come from a mature person of substantial age. This is the Genetic Age and it will be very high compared to his physical age.
Since scientists have not discovered any method for age resetting (or to reduce the age of genes to zero), the cloned person would tend to have a conflict between two internal clocks: the Physical Clock and the Genetic Clock. The Physical Clock makes the person appear physically young while the genetic clock functions at the age-level at which the genes were extracted from the adult. Once the physical age and genetic age come into conflict with each other, the resultant age will be that person's Actual Age.
The Actual age of the cloned person is going to be a very complex factor, resulting from the unusual (and even dangerous) conflict between his physical age and genetic age. This can make the cloned person a very complex entity with his genes dictating one thing while his body refuses to heed many of these because it is not mature enough to fulfill such demands.
2. Ageing And Physical Growth: Right from the time a child is conceived through the sexual process, its physical age and physical growth keep a harmony with each other. This is because the numerous biological clocks in the body (many of which are not even discovered yet) run in synchronism with each other. This synchronization is essential for all bodily organs and functions to maintain balance with each other.
Since there is no method for resetting the genes taken from a mature human cell to the starting state, the clocks in a cloned person would never be able to synchronize with each other. Thus it is difficult to predict the net result of the conflict between the numerous clocks. For example, everyone would be in trouble if a child with a physical age of eight starts manifesting the sexual desires of a twenty-eight year old adult. Similarly, if he starts slowing down (like a sixty-year old person) at the age of twenty, both he as well as his family would be in trouble.
A complex system or a complex machine functions properly only when all the parts function in coordination with each other. We cannot expect it to continue working after throwing in handfuls of sand into it. Of course, the machine might work for some more time after such an abuse, but a fast breakdown is imminent. Similarly, breakdown and disaster is built into the fruits of cloning.
3. Ageing and Psychological Growth: The human intelligence and mind has no parallel in the animal world. Though every normal baby is born with the enormous capacity for intelligence and abstract thinking, this capacity does not automatically grow into a human.
A person acquires normal intelligence only if his physical and mental growths take place together and in proper balance. If the physical growth is faster than mental, the person becomes mentally handicapped, or at least a person of lower IQ than normal. If the mental growth is faster than the physical, we have a physically retarded person. Any of these conditions cause worry in parents, and medical sciences have invested much time and efforts to solve the problems of mental and physical retardation.
By its nature itself, cloning builds into the clone the possibility of physical or mental retardation, or even both. Once a deficiency is detected, it cannot be rectified overnight or immediately. Some of them would even be beyond any rectification at all. Overcoming human physical or mental retardation is not similar to filling up an empty petrol tank. Human life is not mechanical processes alone.
humans have not been cloned at the time of writing this book, it is not
difficult to understand the psychological problems of clones. It would
surely be a frustrating existence when their physical and mental growths
do not match with each other.
4. Ageing And Diseases: It is clearly known today that several serious physical disorders and diseases are intimately connected with old age. The causes might be genetic or bacterial/viral, but as long as the person is young his body is able to resist it all. The stamina of youth helps the person to overcome the restrictions placed by the physical problems.
Once the body ages, the immune system loses much of its efficiency. Many of the bodily functions slow down. Memory and muscular coordination weaken. All the characteristic symptoms associated with old age manifest. Of course a naturally old person is not shocked at any of these changes, but the same is not the situation of an otherwise young person who has to live with these manifestations.
process of cloning restarts the stopped clock, but since it is not able to
start it from the beginning, the process of aging is being built into the
clone. The consequences would definitely be disastrous.
5. How Shall The Clone Relate With Others: Since the clone is liable to have several conflicting clocks within his body, he shall face several adjustment problems. Physically he might look like a baby, but in many ways he might be radically different from others of his age. At the stage of marriage, there would be severe restrictions about the partners that he can and cannot choose. Any wrong choice here can result in serious genetic disorders in the offsprings.
is going to be a very difficult situation for parents, mates, doctors,
lawmakers, and ethicists to deal with the overall needs and demands of
Implications of Cloning
Though cloning of humans has not succeeded so far, people knowledgeable in this field predict that human clones would be here between AD2000 to 2010. There is no reason to doubt this optimism.
In the past also science has done many things that were once supposed to be impossible. Thus, man from his limited experience should not try to predict the boundaries of what science would be able to do in the human realm. Though a lot of people predicted to the contrary, heart and kidney transplants worked. Test-tube babies (actually, test-tube fertilization) worked. Many other things are also now possible that were once supposed to be impossible.
Thus instead of hastily declaring human cloning as impossible, it would be far better to spend time discussing the implications of cloning -- if and when it becomes available. This can be done because though not every consequence of cloning can be predicted, a lot of prediction can still be done on the basis of facts already available. These facts and their implications would have quite a sobering effect upon any thoughtful person.
1. Spiritual Implications: Since cloning is not the normal method of reproduction for humans, the cloned person would have a peculiar standing in front of the spiritual community of believers. For example, already people are proclaiming from pulpits that cloned humans would be only living human-like bodies, having no soul at all. Thus, in their opinion, the clones have no spiritual status other than that of animals.
The actual question of whether a cloned human would have a soul or not is discussed in the Appendix, but for time being let us assume that he or she does have a human soul. If that is so, this person is going to face a tough spiritual situation when many leaders in the Christian community are not willing to accept this fact. Further, by the time human clones become common, these preachers are going to influence tens of thousands of people into believing that clones are only animals. The consequent predicament of the cloned person is beyond imagination.
Once a person is considered soul-less and animal-like, the question of whether he/she needs the gospel arises. When there is confusion in the minds of those who have to share he gospel, the evangelization of the cloned persons would suffer. What's more, it is possible that many churches, led by men who think that clones are soulless, would boycott the clones. These clones would have no scientific or logical method to prove that they have a soul and that they are fully human. After all there is no scientific test for the existence of a soul or a spirit.
Since the cloned person does not have a normal father or mother, this would affect their standing in many places in society where it is necessary for a person to establish his descent. A person who has no father or mother is going to have a difficult situation convincing the bureaucracy that he is a normal part of the society.
Far more serious problems would come up when the clone reaches marriageable age. In most parts of the world people enter into matrimony only after thorough investigation into family background. What would then happen to a cloned person can easily be imagined. Further a cloned person might get the consent for marriage only from another cloned person. But here arises the problem of whether two clones can give birth to normal children through their union. Such experiments have not yet been carried upon animals, so even in cloned animals there is a shortage of information. In such a cases, information about cloned humans becomes much more difficult to assess.
Since cloned humans cannot easily be classified into the conventional relationships like son, daughter, brother, or sister, this poses, great problems for marriage and other such alliances. Further, since it is very difficult for cloned people to keep track of their ancestry, it is difficult to decide whether the marriage partner is related by blood to oneself. Even among normal people a marriage alliance between closely related people is supposed to be harmful. In fact very harmful genetic diseases manifest soon in families that intermarry for generations. Such genetic problems would only get magnified in clonal marriages.
Since cloning histories of people would be kept confidential, checking for such blood relationship would become very difficult. Further even if two clones come from two separate lines, it is possible for them to be borne and delivered by the same woman. Thus it would be difficult to decide whether the marriage of such clones having the same surrogate mother would be harmful or not.
would also face grave problems with the marriage of clones. For example,
children brought up in the same family usually do not fall into love with
each other. But it is possible that two clones produced from the same
grandparent (father or mother) might be brought up in entirely different
families, and thus might be brought up not as siblings but as strangers.
Eventually if they meet and fall in love, the situation becomes grave.
Further, if their ancestry becomes known but if they insist upon marrying
each other in spite of this information, the church faces a very difficult
situation. It is somewhat like non-identical twins from the same father
desiring to marry each other. Unusual are the problems that the church
would face once human cloning succeeds and becomes common.
2. Ethical Implications: With test-tube babies (test-tube fertilization) itself the number of ethical problems have jumped up beyond imagination or beyond human ability to solve. While this does not pose very serious problem for those who do not follow any kind of ethics, God-fearing people would not be able to overlook such problems easily.
While even the introduction of test-tube fertilization and related techniques are giving such difficult situation to pastors and ethicists, the problems posed by cloning humans would be a thousand times more difficult than these. Let us begin with the "value" placed on life (with the assumption that a cloned human is fully human, having a soul, and a person in the image of God.
If the clone is a real human, having a soul, and a person in the image of God, the question arises as to how much liberty can scientists and reproductive technicians take with this life. To make the question clearer one should know some statistics related to reproductive technologies. While in theory they talk about cloning as "taking a cell and growing it into a person", the practical aspects are not all that easy or straightforward. Sometimes hundreds or even thousands of embryos would be destroyed before a single successful clone is produced.
Let us consider the cloning of Dolly, for example. It being an animal, cloning it would obviously be easier than cloning humans. Yet in this case Dr. Wilmut had to merge 277 living cells with the same number of ova. Once this fusion takes place, this single-cell embryo is identical in every respect with the final being. Yet, he had to witness 248 of them perishing in the laboratory. Only 29 of them survived for implantation into mother sheep. Even here 16 of them perished, and only 13 of the mothers became pregnant. Even out of these 12 of them perished, and only one offspring was produced. In summary, out of the 277 uni-cellular life created, 276 of them perished before they could get a single clone.
Now let us apply this to humans. Even a person with very elementary background in biology knows that cloning of humans would be far more difficult than this, and as a consequence of scan experience perhaps tens of thousands of embryos have already been destroyed in laboratories. I am making the above statement in the light of several published reports, all of which claim that attempts at human cloning have been going on secretly now for more than three decades. A well-known book written by David Rorvik (In His Image) claims that human cloning became successful as far back as in December 1976.
Since three decades have already passed after that that claim, it is obvious that hundreds or even thousands of experiments must have been conducted to perfect the techniques using which the alleged clone was produced in 1976 itself. Now the question to ask is, if these are HUMAN embryos then are we not stepping out of limits by manipulating them and destroying them. True, God has given man the power to create life, and even the most casual and careless sexual union begets life, but there ends man's freedom. While even the most reckless sexual union can beget life, man has no more moral control over it. He is not authorized to destroy it because it is made in the image of God.
Even in test-tube fertilization, thousands of embryos are destroyed. Then the number of cases in cloning attempts would be far greater than that. But then this is something for which man is not authorized. He is not supposed to play with or destroy human life. Some might argue that this is only a temporary problem because some sacrifice has to be made during the development and perfecting of any scientific technique. While this might be true for non-living substances, the argument does not hold for living beings. They are not inanimate things that we can destroy them as we please.
Others might argue that such destruction would take place only during the developmental stages, and that destruction of embryos would come to a halt once the techniques are perfected. Several fallacies are involved here. First, even in the far simpler process of test tube fertilization (where techniques have been highly perfected), there is much destructions of embryos before a single one is successfully implanted. Thus in the far more complex and unnatural process of cloning the rate of destruction would inevitably to be very high.
Second, even after perfecting of the technique there would be much deliberate destruction of life as already witnessed in the area of artificial fertilization. No sooner artificial fertilization became available, laboratories offering this facility opened up everywhere, including India. This in turn gave rise to several related industries. For example, sperm-banks began to collect and offer semen for those couples where the husband had a problem with his sperms.
Sperm banks then gave rise to embryo-banks where a couple could freeze fertilized embryos for future use. This future use could be for a time when one of the partners died prematurely, or where they suddenly lost the power of reproduction due to accident or illness. Alternately, many wealthy couples envisaged a situation when during old age they might have a desire for a child but when neither of them could give birth. They reasoned that they could hire a young woman, in need for money, to carry their child and give birth to it for a substantial reward. Others realized that in this era of a limited number of children they could lose their children at a time when they are no longer capable to give birth to another child, making frozen embryos useful.
All the reasons above, and many more, made embryo banks a lucrative venture, and they came up in numerous countries. Embryos were produced in labs using either parental sperms and ova, or by using one of the components through donation. Initially things went on well, and many couples seemed to obtain some joy, but at a cost that many of them had not foreseen. For example, there was a white woman who, along with her white husband, purchased sperms from a bank. They were assured that the donor resembled the husband in colour, physique, and social background. The couple reasoned that since the child would resemble the parents, it would escape detection and the stigma of being labeled a bastard. While they were rejoicing that they never would have to reveal the story to anyone, disaster struck. The child born was black. There was some mix up in the labeling or distribution of sperms. Not only did they now have the embarrassing task of explaining it all to their friends and relatives, but would also need to raiser up the child in a family and social atmosphere where it might face much ridicule.
Accidents like the above one are not rare. They have been taking place with alarming frequency. Then there is the story of a woman who carried the embryo for a couple in whose case the wife had a problem with her uterus. But finally when the surrogate mother gave birth, she did not want to give away the child and even went to court for continued custody.
Reproduction-related banks have now been functioning for almost three decades, and they now face another problem. People in their enthusiasm deposit a lot of embryos, but soon forget them. Or they die, leaving the embryos orphans. Still others default on payment. Since the embryos are placed in deep freezers, maintaining them requires substantial funds. It is not like the financial-bank where one gets an interest for deposit, but rather a place where the investment of capital requires regular payments for its sustenance.
Thousands of frozen embryos in USA, Europe and other developed countries recently became orphans in one way or other. Finally when there was a default on payments, the banks had no option but to destroy them. Some countries even required the embryos to be destroyed after a stipulated period. There was no way to give them away to other because these are human beings. Thus killing was considered the best option, and truly they were killing was considered the best option, and truly they were killed by many of these banks. Similar is the case of cloning. Since clones can be produced at any stage of a person's growth, many would find reasons to clone themselves and for placing these embryos in banks. Further, since reproductive cells are not involved, many would easily be willing to part with their cells. Alternately, it would also be possible to steal cells from prospective donors.
Thus a company might want to have cells from sportsmen, intellectual giants, wrestlers, or even beauty queens. These people might not find it difficult to give a scraping from their body, having in it tens of thousands of useful cells. Alternately, it would not be difficult to steal cells from them during medical checkups or any other artificially contrived situation. A human cell is such a tiny entity, and so many thousands of them break down and fall from our body during each of our physical movements, that obtaining cells from any persons would not be difficult. There is already a case of a person from whose blood a laboratory extracted a certain useful compound (during a routine blood check), and patented it. Now even the owner of that blood does not have manufacturing rights over it.
Thus cells cloned in masses might be stored in banks and used for purposes wider than the purpose for which stored semen or embryos are used. Semen or ova from people need to be mixed with their counterparts from the opposite sex and this often destroys the desirable characteristics, but it is not so with cloning. Here there is no mixing, so the physical end result would be closer to the original, making cloning attractive and useful in many ways -- specially to commercial setups.
The ethical question then arises as to who shall regulate these banks. For what all purposes can the clones be given away. Can cosmetic and body-parts manufacturers be permitted to buy from these people ? What all uses shall be considered ethical, and what all shall be unethical. If a country is ruled by an autocrat who does not respect moral laws (as is happening in many countries today), what shall be the fate of this technology.
True, human clones have not been produced so far at least in masses, but the technology is at the door. Though the process is very difficult at present, we must not forget that almost all (advanced cutting-edge) technologies were extremely difficult in the beginning. But eventually they were simplified to such levels that many of them could be handled even by lay people. The same would be the fate of human cloning once it becomes available.
Since the end-result of cloning (i.e., the properties of the clone) is much more predictable than the end-result of artificial fertilization, numerous industries and movements would be interested in fruits of human cloning. Even medical laboratories might want to have clones for medical experimentation. All of it put together is going to give rise to moral problems in front of which the problems created by artificial fertilization and embryo-banks would become insignificant.
Terrible is the consequence of tampering with things that are sanctified, and about which there is clear instruction that man should not play with them. This includes human life, which is in the image of God.
3. Eschatological Implications: It would be obvious to any history-watcher that each and every major scientific or technological breakthrough brings us closer to fulfillment of end-time prophecies. For example the advent of TV was the first step in the fulfillment of the prophecy in Revelation that says that ALL the people on earth saw the dead bodies of two end-time witnesses. With the invention of satellite-based broadcasting and the ever widening use of Internet, instant broadcast of information all over the world is now a reality without doubt. Similarly, the advent of cloning definitely indicates fulfillment of other prophecies related to end times.
In Revelation the Mystery Babylon is presented as a woman doing transaction in all kinds of goods. Two of these have perplexed Bible students and translators alike because in Greek it says that she will be doing transaction of "bodies" and "souls". While the slave traders all over the world are definitely doing it in a small measure, the new technology now makes it possible to cultivate and sell people. In fact, several types of commercial establishments are keenly interested in using human cloning technology purely for commercial purposes. Mystery Babylon would actually do it.
History is our witness that society initially resists those people who would like to commercially exploit technologies in a harmful way, but soon this resistance breaks down. Eternal vigilance is the cost to be paid for freedom, but those who need to exercise this vigilance tire after some time while those who would like to exploit never give up. Finally the enemies of freedom win. Human cloning also seems to be destined to the same end.
In summary, the spiritual, the ethical, and the eschatological implications of human cloning are very serious. Neither Christians, nor the religious people, are ready to face the consequences of the new development. It demands immediate attention of Christian theologians, ethicists, and communicators. Meanwhile, it is necessary for others in the Christian community not to become a part or partner in these developments. They should not even encourage such practices by their neglect, apathy, or silence. As Mordecai cautioned Esther, each one should use the occasion properly for the sake of righteousness. Though God is in control of everything, he does not excuse or overlook those who neglect their human duties.
CHAPTER -- 6
The race for making human clones is on, and that also with full speed. Though many countries have announced a ban upon reproduction-related research, this is only a veiled attempt at concealing what is going on.
None of the countries that made such announcements have cut off funds already allocated for such research. It is estimated that such funds already allocated now amount to billions of dollars. Even if a ban is placed upon allocation of new funds, these billions of dollars would be sufficient to sustain research for several years. By that time either there will be new breakthroughs, or there will be such changes so that they will keep supporting the work even after the deadline is over. This has happened many times in scientific would, and it will happen again.
Most lay people do not understand the way in which scientific research operates today. It is not a straightforward affair. Rather, today's science is an alliance between scientists, politicians, and the business establishment. Plenty of commercial interests are at stake. Thus in spite of all talk to the contrary, human cloning experiments will continue either openly or secretly.
In all possibility, human cloning would succeed by AD 2000. This will pose many new social, spiritual and ethical problems. The society is not ready to face these problems. Thus it would be necessary for each one of us to begin developing our awareness into these things now itself.
If successfully cloned, these clones would give rise to many spiritual and ethical problems. At the same time they would need to be evangelized and introduced to Jesus as their personal Saviour.
Since cloning is a process of developing life from pre-existing life, in cloning man has NOT created life. Nor has he displaced God. Rather, he has used certain definite principles of nature to do these things. In doing so he has been crossing boundaries, but this does not mean that man has displaced God.
each violation of boundaries set by God should make us realize that things
would not go on indefinitely like this. The end is approaching fast.
Question: Will they ever be able to clone humans ? I do not believe they will ?
Answer: The world is full of people who do not believe in possible technical breakthroughs. They do so because of a number of reasons including religious reasons and just plain skepticism. However, this is not the way in which one should approach science and technology.
The last 500 years of modern science is full of people who did not believe that this thing or that thing can be done. Even before that, people thought that traveling is not possible to remote ends of the earth because then they would fall into the abyss. However Columbus, Marco Polo, and many other adventuring persons proved all this to be wrong.
In the last century there were many who firmly believed that man would not be able to fly in the air using machines. In fact the Wright brothers were born into a family where their father used to preach that man would never be able to fly. Then there was the case of heart transplantation about which many said it would not be possible because they considered the heart to the seat of a person's soul.
As recently as in the late sixties many Christian magazines carried articles claiming that man would never be able to land on moon. Many of them went to great lengths to give the reasons, only to be silenced when Apollo-11 helped man to land upon moon.
Hundreds (nay, thousands) of such cases have shown that it is foolish to speculate on what man would be or would not be able to do in the physical world. What is important is to think about the consequences of new discoveries and inventions once they are here. Such discussion is important particularly when the research is related to subjects raising moral and ethical issues. This is exactly what we have been doing in this book.
Question: Have scientists already created Human clones ?
Answer: There is at least one claim by David Rorvik that human cloning has already been done successfully. In his book titled IN HIS IMAGE, he claims that a wealthy American was able to produce a clone of himself in December 1976. However, at that time people reacted violently against the possibility of human cloning, and thus he kept much of the information secret. Yet since the book was published by one of the most respected medical book publishers, there is reason to believe that there is some truth in Rorvik's claims.
Even if the Rorvik's claim is false, plenty of researchers believe that the first human clone would be delivered before AD 2000, provided governments do not ban this kind of work. Further, another kind of human cloning is already taking place. Here a single fertilized human cell is divided into two after cell-multiplication, producing identical twins. Researches at the George Washington University in USA did this successfully in 1993. Thus it seems to be only a matter of time before they succeed in cloning humans from mature cells.
Question: Won't the human clones be soul-less animals or monsters ?
Answer: I have been hearing many people claiming that clones would not have souls. This is just an overreaction on the part of some. The same kind of overreaction has been seen during major medical breakthroughs.
For example, some decades ago when the first human heart transplantation took place in South Africa, people came up with all kinds of theories. Some said that since human heart is the seat of life, changing heart is like changing the soul of the person.
In fact, when white people were given hearts from black people, many thought that this would manifest in the recipient behaving like a black man. They were disappointed. History teaches us not to jump to conclusions about things that are not known. There are plenty of things known about cloning, and we would better spend our time discussing those known things, as has been done in this book.
The precise way in which human soul is passed on to an embryo is not mentioned in the Scriptures. Science is totally silent on this matter because it cannot handle anything that is non-material. The best attitude is to believe that since the clone comes from a living person (or two living persons), it would definitely be human and will have a human soul.
In the case of test-tube fertilization also, people initially had the same doubts about the humanness of these people. But now we know that being taken from living humans, test tube babies are also human. In the same way, if human clones are produced, the human clones also will be real human beings because they come from living humans. They would surely have souls, and they would need to be saved by accepting Jesus as their personal Saviour.
As far as claims about them being brutish like animals or about them being monsters, we can know the truth only after humans are successfully cloned, and only after many of these clones grow up. Of course since cloning involves a lot of interference with the processes kept by God in nature, there is every possibility that many of the clones would have physical limitations, deformities, or abnormalities. We have discussed some of these possibilities in chapters on Implications of Cloning.
Question: Are human clones grown inside laboratory machines ?
Answer: No. Many people have this misunderstanding that test tube babies and human clones (of future) are grown in laboratory machines. No such machine has ever been made, and no knowledgeable person would even suggest the possibility of doing this.
More than 50 years of research has not yet been successful in making an artificial heart. True, there are compact heart machines, but these are still machines and cannot be placed inside a person for replacing his heart. The uterus and the placenta needed to sustain a growing fetus for nine months are hundreds of times more complex than the human heart.
Thus if technology has not yet come to a level where it can manufacture an artificial heart, then an artificial uterus is beyond the remotest imagination. Consequently, neither the so-called test-tube babies, nor the predicted human clones are grown in laboratory machines. They are grown for nine months inside women who are called "surrogate" mothers.
A surrogate mother is a woman who carries someone else's child in her uterus for nine months. While in many cases this is done for the noble purpose of helping a childless couple, surrogate motherhood is now gradually becoming a lucrative business for women in financial need. In the last five years many Indian magazines have been publishing classified advertisement seeking surrogate mothers. The advertisements are placed by wealthy couples who are unable to conceive or to give birth due to numerous reasons. However, now a new breed of rich people are emerging where women do not want to pass through pregnancy so as to keep their bodies sexually attractive, or for a number of other such selfish reasons. Such people often "rent" the services of a surrogate mother who conceives, delivers, and hands over the child to those who hire her services.
The way in which surrogate motherhood is being exploited for man's sinful and selfish desires confirms what has been said in chapters five and six that the harmful potential of reproductive technologies is very much. Today there are direct advertisements seeking surrogate mothers, tomorrow there will be agencies who handle this kind of work for a commission. In fact several Indian magazines have alleged that many people are already luring healthy and young girls from poor families for this kind of jobs. With the need and greed for money increasing in our nation, it would not be surprising to find large number of young girls employed into this kind of a profession.
Since cloning cannot take place without surrogate mothers, and since many industries are interested in mass cloning of humans, it should not surprise anyone if the prediction in the above paragraphs come true in front of our own eyes.
Question: What is the solution ?
Answer: There is no easy way in which technological developments can be halted. They will be pushed forward by man's greed for gain. At the same time, they are steps in the fulfillment of Bible prophecies.
Thus instead of trying to stop such progress directly, it would be better for believers to create an awareness about these things. This would partially slow down the race to destruction, while at the same time it will help many from falling into the unethical clutches of the newer technologies that manipulate human life.
About The Authors
Philip, PhD (Physics), ThD (Apologetics), DSc (Alternative Medicines) is
the author of over 2500 articles and 50 books. Since he considers
book-writing a ministry, all his books are gradually being made
available for FREE downloads. He has written extensively upon bio-medical
issues, and has worked closely with people involved in bio-ethics.
Cherian, MDiv, DMin, ThD (Cand) is the Academic Dean of Rehoboth
Theological Institute and the Principal of Indus School Of Apologetics and
Theology. He is the co-author of some of the most important theological
books in Malayalam, such as Systematic Theology (800 pages) and Christian
Apologetics (800 pages).
In this book we take an unashamed stand in favour of truth, total truth, and truth alone. There will be no attempt to mingle error with truth. Tens of thousands of Protestant Reformers sacrificed their lives to defend the truth expressed in the following statements:
Scriptura (Bible Alone)
We unashamedly stand with the Fathers of the Reformation. The above statements form the presuppositions upon which this book rests. Since presuppositions play a very important part in apologetics, polemics, hermeneutics, and theology, we would devote another document to a discussion of presuppositions of various groups of Christians as well as non Christians.
www.IndusTheology.Com (Only For Indians)
www.CalvinSchool.Com (Only For Non Indians)