Clones for Sale

Cloning is no longer science fiction. Not long ago, scientists announced the first cloning of a human being. And the experiment opens a Pandora's box of frightening prospects. At George Washington University researchers took human embryos consisting of only two to eight cells, split the cells apart, and allowed each to develop on its own. In essence, the researchers were imitating what happens when nature produces twins. Identical twins result when a fertilized egg divides and, instead of remaining a single organism, the two cells become separate organisms. The researchers caused the same thing to happen artificially. If each cell had been implanted in a woman's womb, the result would have been several genetically identical babies. Why would anyone want several identical twins? The answer reads like science fiction. For starters, the technology could be used for genetic screening. Parents could use in vitro fertilization, separate the cells, and select one for genetic testing. If the test revealed defects, the remaining embryos could be destroyed; if the test was normal, the embryos could be implanted in the mother's womb. Scientists have also suggested freezing the extra embryos for future use. For example, if a child dies at an early age, a frozen twin could be thawed out, and the parents could raise a clone identical to the child they lost. Or what if the original child needs an organ transplant? Simply unfreeze a twin and use it for spare parts. The tissues would match perfectly. Some geneticists even propose a catalog allowing parents to select their baby before birth. Parents could pick out the photograph of a child they like, buy a frozen clone, and raise an identical child. Entrepreneurs could even specialize in embryos that grow up to be Einsteins or Picassos. Parents who want a genius of their own could buy a frozen clone. Sound far-fetched? It's not. America already has sperm banks for mothers who want the offspring of Nobel Prize winners or champion athletes. In short, we already have a market for preselected babies. In fact, the only real barrier to mass-producing babies through cloning is a residual sense of the biblical world view, which regards each person as valuable in his own right. But that world view is under severe attack. Listen to the words of geneticist Robert Haynes. "For three thousand years," he says, "a majority of people have considered that human beings were special. . . . It's the Judeo-Christian view of man." "Well, not anymore," Haynes declares. Genetics teaches that "we are biological machines," and nothing more. This is the philosophy of genetic reductionism, which treats people as merely DNA on legs. It allows the human body to be manipulated, used, and discarded as though it were an industrial product. As Christians we support science as the investigation of God's world--but only if it's applied in a way that furthers God's purposes. You and I have a responsibility to enter the moral debate over genetic technology and to articulate a biblical world view. One that refuses to reduce people to walking DNA.  


Chuck Colson


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