Cloning, Stem-Cell Research, and the Bible -- By: J. Kerby Anderson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 159:636 (Oct 2002)
Article: Cloning, Stem-Cell Research, and the Bible
Author: J. Kerby Anderson


Cloning, Stem-Cell Research,
and the Bible

J. Kerby Anderson

J. Kerby Anderson is President, Probe Ministries, Richardson, Texas.

The genetic revolution may have begun in the twentieth century, but its impact will be felt mostly in the twenty-first century. Meanwhile, as knowledge in genetics doubles every few years, ethical and theological considerations often lag behind. The challenge for scientists and nonscientists and Christians and non-Christians is to evaluate carefully the moral and theological implications of this new technology.

For the first time in human history it is possible to redesign existing organisms completely, including humans, and to direct the genetic and reproductive constitution of every living thing. Physicians can also bypass the normal process of reproduction and therefore further direct the development of individuals. And on the horizon are powerful new genetic tools for cloning and stem-cell research that offer great promise but also threaten the sanctity of human life.

Scientific Breakthroughs in Cloning

Should scientists clone a human being? This ethical debate has been going on for more than thirty years. In 1970 Paul Ramsey devoted an entire chapter to human cloning in his book Fabricated Man.1 And in the 1970s ethicists debated the pros and cons of human cloning until scientists were able to convince nearly everyone that cloning a mammal (much less a human being) would be impossible.

All that changed when scientists in Scotland announced in 1997 that they had successfully cloned an adult sheep. Commentators were predicting that a “brave new world” was just around the corner, and ethicists began to dust off arguments that had been

mothballed in the 1970s. The cloning of the sheep called Dolly implied that it might eventually be possible to clone a human being.

Dolly was significant because she was the first mammal cloned from adult cells and because this set the stage for a serious discussion about cloning human beings. However, the history of Dolly raises ethical concerns about applying this technology to humans. For example Dolly was the only success in 277 cell fusions. In other words there were 276 failures and only one success.

Some even questioned whether Dolly is a true clone since she was not cloned from a currently living adult. Dolly’s older twin had been dead for several years. Some of her tissues were harvested and kept frozen in a laboratory, so there was no live animal with which to compare Dolly. However, later research published in Nature

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