Friday, January 10, 2003

Why can't the laws of the universe occasionally cease to bind and cut me a little slack? I'm depressed today. After yesterday, which I spent as a triumphant conqueror, I'm surprised I don't feel better. Easy come, easy go, I guess.

Anyway, today I'm going to write about cloning, because everyone else is and I'm a follower.

I'm always a little torn over technological advance. It's probably because I was raised on Tolkien, and Huxley's Brave New World. It's pretty odd, in fact, that both my brother and I are pretty into computers when we were really raised to suspect such devices. We're rural kids, and generally slow on the uptake on these things. But oddly enough, I got my first computer way back in 1993 to 1994 or so, and I discovered the internet shortly afterward, and because of my long practice and experience, I'm considered something of an expert amongst my friend group now.

Anyway, I have a tendency, as do most people I think, to suspect technology. When I think of cloning, I think of legions of identical warriors, roaming the Earth, destroying towns and their populations. Clones are brainwashed; they listen only to their master. They hear the voice of master, understand his command, and carry out that command. They have no souls, so they don't care if their actions are right or wrong. They can be destroyed in the hundreds of thousands and who would flinch? They're not real people. They're mindless drones.

But on further reflection, there are some problems with that thought pattern. A clone is basically an artificially induced identical twin of its genetic donor. A clone would gestate and be born through the same process that an ordinary child would. The clone, conceivably, would grow up just as any other child would. Having been around the odd young child or two in my life, I've never known of any youngster that was totally and blindly obedient to the will of their parent. And, just like any identical twin, a cloned child wouldn't really be so identical after all. My eldest sisters are identical twins, and it doesn't take an astute onlooker or listener, to tell them apart. They're not the same at all, just because they share genetic material. When they were very little, they looked quite a lot alike. But even then their mother knew them apart, and their little brother did from his birth, and eventually so did anyone who got to know them. They've never thought exactly alike, or acted exactly alike; they've been independent since the start. Why would I expect a clone to be any different?

As for souls, I can honestly say that I don't know much about them. I have a metaphysical belief which indicates that I have one, and that, if you're reading this, you probably do too. But I don't know exactly when I came to have a soul. Knowing a bit about the process of birth, I do know that identical twins originally share a single egg, which is only separated after conception. I believe that life begins at conception, and that I was fundamentally the same person at conception that I am now, and that if that's true I had a soul right from fertilization. However, I don't believe that my sisters have the same soul, or a split soul; they're both individually accountable for their lives, and that one's sins don't stain the other. So, how is it exactly that my sisters had souls at conception - individual ones even - when they were only one life force at the time? I don't know. I could venture the guess that, supposing souls are metaphysically given, the metaphysical giver ought to know ahead of time what would be, and dispatched a double helping. But that's a little bit of a conjecture. And anyway, regarding clones, I suppose God can give them a soul if He wishes, just as he can dispatch a double helping of soul to any other identical twin. If the process occurs elsewise, I'm unaware of it, and I still maintain that God can give souls to whomever He wishes, and it's only our blind insistence, not any mandate from Him, that He wouldn't give any soul to clones.

A lot of people say that that means I'm all for playing God. And it's true that I am! I play God every day; and so does anybody else who interacts with the world. To play God, at the most base, is to presume to affect the things around you. For instance, say a woman bore a child, and expected God alone to take care of him. She wouldn't touch the child, or feed the child, or clothe him in any way; the child would die. Every mother who's raised a child has essentially played God. They've taken the power of life and death into their own hands, and they've fundamentally changed the outcome by an act of their own will. If I saw a man who laid dying by the side of the road, I could say: "Well, it's up to God to grant life and death" and ignore the entire thing. But scripture requires that I help that man. I would be taking the power of life and death - insofar as is possible for a human being - and I would will a change in the formula by calling an ambulance and giving whatever emergency services I could provide. I see nothing inherently evil about "playing God," and claiming that it's playing God to create clones, in my opinion, doesn't mean that's it necessarily wrong to do so.

The point is that you have to be creating clones for the right reason, and you have to do it in such a way as to ensure that the clone would have a good chance at life. To bring about more humans, is, in my opinion, a lofty goal. To clone organs - and I don't mean human body banks, I mean actual organs in a jar - to be used for the purpose of helping living humans, is a lofty goal. To clone a dead child, so that his mother can replace him, is not a good thing at all. It's child abuse. And the action ought to be condemned as child abuse, and not the inherent evil of cloning. To clone human body banks, who would only exist for the purpose of the transplantation of organs, is patently wrong. But not because it's cloning; rather instead because it's the abuse of a human being.

::screams:: is after five, I must go.