Human Life Is Not Sheep: An Ethical Perspective On Cloning -- By: Glen G. Scorgie

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 40:4 (Dec 1997)
Article: Human Life Is Not Sheep: An Ethical Perspective On Cloning
Author: Glen G. Scorgie


Human Life Is Not Sheep:
An Ethical Perspective On Cloning

Glen G. Scorgie

Claire F. Evans Jones*

*Glen Scorgie is professor of theology at Bethel Seminary San Diego, 6116 Arosa Street, San Diego, CA 92115. Claire Evans Jones is assistant professor of neuropharmacology at the Scripps Research Institute, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037.

On February 22, 1997, the media were abuzz with the announcement that Scottish geneticists had—eight months earlier—successfully cloned (copied) a sheep named Dolly. 1 Quite understandably the Scottish achievement of sheep-cloning was treated as a newsworthy milestone in the smoothly speeding advance of modern biotechnology. Not since the advent in the late 1970s of Louise Brown, the celebrated first test-tube baby, has public attention been so focused on the biological revolution under way in our time. 2

The thing that made Dolly loom so large, of course, was that she signaled the imminent feasibility of applying comparable procedures and technology to the cloning of human beings. And this prospect has sent everyone scrambling. Arthur L. Caplan admits that unfortunately “we don’t have the legal and ethical basis to handle [these rapid developments] yet.” 3

Prudence urges that we ought to proceed slowly on a matter of such potentially great import. Consequently the United Nations, Bill Clinton and others have issued cautious statements that are essentially designed to buy some time and carve out some breathing space to weigh the implications of

this new capability for shaping humanity. This article is an attempt to take advantage of this breathing space to reflect on the ethical aspects of cloning from a Christian perspective.

Admittedly there is a cozy, parochial flavor to the topic, for cloning has emerged as an issue for serious consideration only in the relatively a•uent and technologically advanced nations of the world. From a global perspective there is something embarrassing about dealing with something so unreal to the great majority of human beings in their gritty struggle merely to survive. A sense of moral proportion would suggest that other less esoteric issues have a greater claim upon our attention. In our own proscribed context, however, we must reluctantly acknowledge that the issue of cloning has surfaced and therefore cannot safely be ignored.

By the nature of its discussion this article belongs to the sprawling field of bioethics and, more precisely, to...

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