Cloning Essay, Research Paper
The most significant problem our world has with newfound controversies is that most people take one side on the issue before they become educated on the topic at hand. This is the same problem that I see with the controversial issue of cloning. Whether one argues for or against the cloning of humans or animals, most people leave out the ethics and morals behind the issue. People see movies like Multiplicity, starring Michael Keaton (a movie in which Michael Keaton clones himself multiple times in an attempt to make his life more enjoyable), and they think to themselves that cloning themselves might be pretty cool. A poll taken by CNN1 on the issue of cloning found that 7% of Americans would clone themselves. This shows us that 93% of Americans do see the problems behind cloning. But this also shows us that there are some people that need to be educated on the subject through the basis of facts, not some unrealistic movie. So many people argue that cloning could be used on animals for medical advancements and to solve such terrible problems as world hunger, but there are so many more factors behind this problem than just a lack of food. In an interview conducted by TIME magazine2, Daniel Callahan, Director of International Programs and Senior Associate at The Hastings Center states, “[Solving the problem of world hunger] would be wonderful if it could happen, but I’m not sure that cloning offers a solution to world hunger, most of which stems from political, rather that scientific reasons.” Not only this, but cloning should be seriously reconsidered because of technical problems (short and long-term) that may very well occur. This, coupled with scientists’ lack of full knowledge on the practice of cloning should be reason enough to put this meddling practice to a halt. Finally, and most importantly, we must always put ethics, morals, and values ahead of our knowledge. If we don’t do this, it takes away from us what it means to be human.
The poll taken by CNN1 seemed to focus wholly on the morality of cloning, and why shouldn’t it. When asked the question, “Is it morally unacceptable to clone humans,” 89% of the people said, “Yes, it is morally unacceptable to clone humans.” This seems to me to be a good outcome, but it also tells me that 11% of the people need to be “turned around.” I believe one of the most important factors in the population’s reasoning on the issue of cloning is their religion or lack of religion. Being a Catholic, I believe that we were created by God and that God should be the only one who should have the power to make a human. It would almost be a spit in the face of my religion to see some fallible human creating a person. What good will this knowledge be in the future. I can see no logical use for the cloning of a human. I am not willing to sacrifice my values and morals for worthless knowledge. During the same poll, the question was asked, “Is cloning humans against God’s will?” 74% of the people answered “Yes” to this question. Because this percentage is less than the one before, this tells us that 15% of the poll defines morals differently from their religion or that they do not believe in or understand God’s will. Nonetheless, this shows us that the majority of the population does see what is morally and ethically wrong with meddling with a “higher power’s” workings. People and especially the scientists need to begin to realize and respect the natural workings of our world.
When considering the issue of cloning, people tend to concentrate on the immorality of the cloning of humans and they leave out the immorality behind the cloning of food and animals for medical and “worldly” advancements. People rightly say that cloning on humans is wrong, but it is usually for the wrong reason. They say that cloning humans is wrong because we have feelings and can reason, and they say that cloning animals and food is OK because they don’t feel and reason like humans do. They forget to consider that God’s will and His workings need to be respected and followed as planned. In the poll taken by CNN1, the question of whether or not people would eat cloned food was asked. 40% of the people said they would not eat cloned fruits or vegetables and 56% said that they would not eat meat from cloned animals. Both of these, even though they cannot reason like humans, are living beings and their life needs to be respected. In the interview conducted by TIME magazine2, Mary Mahowald, Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Assistant Director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medial Ethics at the University of Chicago states, “But we do have moral responsibilities toward non-human animals and I believe most of us recognize that non-human animals are at times treated inhumanly unjustifiably.” She too realizes the importance of having a moral respect for the non-human beings in our world. We even need to realize how immoral it is to clone people to make “spare parts” for people even if it can save lives. When interviewed by TIME, even research scientist Dr. Colin Stewart3 states, “It would be completely unethical to clone people for the point of taking their organs because they would be individuals…At the moment, we cannot produce spare parts like a kidney, liver, or heart in culture.”
When scientists are working with a part of the body, it is comforting to know that the scientist knows about every aspect of that part of the body. But this is not the case with cloning and scientists knowledge of it. Dr. Stewart now states7, “We don’t know yet what the genes are that give us our individuality, our characteristics, the genes that are associated with higher intelligence, if there are any. That is simply way in the future.” “Way in the future”—this is the same line that should be associated with the practice of cloning. Dr. Stewart admits that scientists don’t know everything about genes, which is the heart of the cloning process. It is simply irresponsible for scientists to meddle in a field in which they are not completely educated. Because of this lack of knowledge, it is therefore impossible for scientists to predict technical problems that could be associated with the cloning process and its consequences.
Some families greatly anticipate the cloning of humans. Many families with sick or dying children believe that if they clone their child when he/she dies, they can relieve their sorrows by bringing their child back to them in the form of a clone. Besides the moral consequences, there are the obvious technical problems. On this topic, Dr. Stewart says, “If the child is dying of some congenital or inherited disease… then the clone of the child would almost certainly die from [the disease] as well.”4 Not only this, but Dr Stewart also brings to our attention the long-term (negative) effects of mass cloning. He says, “[Mass cloning] would almost certainly result in a greater degree of homogeneity in that race of people, making them much more prone to some catastrophe like disease or plague that could wipe them out. The secret to human existence lies in variation and that comes from sexual reproduction.” The great part of human existence is our individuality and our differences. Cloning will take this away from us. Once we reach a point of extreme homogeneity, there is no way to go back. There will be so little variation in our genes that we will become a race of congruent persons. In addition to the long-term effects of cloning, there may be technical problems during the process of producing clone. A few years ago, a Scottish scientist by the name of Dr. Ian Wilmut came up with a breakthrough that turned the world as we know it upside-down. They succeeded in cloning a sheep from a cell taken from ordinary tissue. 6Dr. Wilmut achieved near perfection in the timing by putting the cells into hibernation; of the 277 eggs they began with, 247 lived through the process. Timing the growth of other species, however, has proved to scientists that cloning mature animals is extremely difficult; in the case of mice they’ve concluded it can’t be accomplished.6 Since it has been concluded that it cannot be accomplished with mice, who is to say that it can happen with humans? Should we really be willing to take that risk?
We need to realize that cloning may be good for reproducing plants in order to provide food for the starving people of the world, but such things as cloning farms are very inappropriate for humans. Human birth is a miracle, so why should we degrade it. Not many people would want to be a clone and for very good reason. Destroying a person’s dignity and creating so much mental torment in a person’s mind could be so catastrophic to that person and the community that even the “priceless” scientific knowledge can’t make up for it. We also must realize the catastrophic effects that this bears on our religious system. Without a strong belief in some sort of religion and, therefore, consequences for our actions, our world would become chaotic. So our society needs to begin to respect nature and its workings. The population and the individual legislators need to make a choice about what is more important. Should we as humans value knowledge as opposed to dignity and respect? Or should we begin to realize the importance of human experience as wonderfully complex and mysterious thing? If science gains control over our nature as a whole, such people as clones will just be a product and a prisoner of the scientific method of reasoning.
2 Auerbach, Larry. “Ethics of Creation.” Time Online 15 Feb. 1997. .
3 Auerbach, Larry. “Sci-Fi Scenarios.” Time Online 15 Feb. 1997. .
4 Auerbach, Larry. “Sci-Fi Scenarios.” Time Online 15 Feb. 1997. .
5 Auerbach, Larry. “Sci-Fi Scenarios.” Time Online 15 Feb. 1997. .
6 Auerbach, Larry. “Sci-Fi Scenarios.” Time Online 15 Feb. 1997. .
1“Most Americans say cloning is wrong.” CNN Interactive 01 Mar. 1997. .
7 Wilmut, Ian. “Cloning 1-2-3.” Time Online 15 Feb. 1997. .