The scientific and Scriptural case against human cloning

A preliminary comment by Ken Ham with Mark Looy

NOTE: A more detailed analysis has now been published this on this website, First human embryo clone? What really happened, and what are the ethics involved?, from CMI research scientist Dr Jonathan Sarfati.

A research company’s experiment to clone what it declares to be the first human embryo is being strongly condemned by the Bible-proclaiming ministry of Answers in Genesis.

Researchers at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Massachusetts claim that they are developing human embryos in order to harvest embryonic stem cells. These cells, which can turn into other body tissue, presumably could help patients suffering from various injuries and diseases. Such ‘therapeutic cloning,’ however, necessitates that human embryos will be killed for their cells. Thus Congress should heed President George Bush’s call for legislation to ban human cloning.

A clone is a genetically identical copy of a living organism, such as the famous sheep ‘Dolly’ (unveiled in 1997). The cells of any living thing contain a complete set of genetic information or ‘instructions’ for itself. Dolly was a copy or ‘clone’ of a sheep. (By the way, human clones are never absolutely identical to the original; for example, so-called ‘identical’ human twins, while clones, are still two different people who possess their own separate souls.)

Should Christians view the cloning of animals differently than humans? In Genesis 1:28, humans were appointed by their Creator to rule over ‘every living thing that moveth upon the earth’ (as well as fish and birds—verse 26). Therefore, if the cloning of animals could benefit mankind (e.g. producing cows that yield more milk that would feed more people), then there seems to be no Biblical reason not to clone animals.

What about cloning humans? Cloning of humans can be opposed for a variety of reasons:

The Bible draws a very clear line between the nature of animals and humans. People are created differently (‘in the image of God’Genesis 1:27) and separately from the animals. In verses 2:6 and 2:8, God entrusts humans with dominion over the animals, but humans are never told to have the same kind of dominion over other humans.

Each fertilized human egg, including any that results from cloning, is a new human individual. Perfecting the cloning technique requires several experiments, and many embryos will be destroyed in the process. Indeed, the dark experiments in Massachusetts have so far been a massive failure—the embryos died before they became large enough to produce stem cells (the very goal of the researchers).

Human cloning is closely tied to the issue of abortion and the real beginning of human life; for one, if defects are noticed in developing clones, abortion would be the preferred solution. Furthermore, no serious biologist who is familiar at all with the human body would argue against the clear fact that all the DNA coding needed to build each individual’s physical features is there right at the egg’s fertilization. No new genetic information is ever added to a developing embryo. An embryo is human from the beginning. And according to the Bible (Exodus 20:13) and virtually all ethical standards, it is wrong to intentionally kill such innocent human life.

Cloning is in opposition to the Biblical institution of the family. Because a manufactured human clone could never have two parents, the process of cloning would go against the doctrine of the family (i.e. a father and mother) as ordained by God in the Book of Genesis.

In a world that increasingly denies the authority of the Bible and its very first book, Genesis, people who view the Creation account as a myth will disregard standards such as the divine institutions of the family and dominion, as well as the sacredness of human life made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Sadly, human cloning will become more acceptable to those who reject the Creator and His Word.

This push for cloning is probably why the secular media have mostly ignored the fact that non-embryonic stem cells have had proven laboratory and clinical successes and don’t require any loss of human life. For example, stem cells have been extracted from hippocampal and periventricular regions of the brain, umbilical cord blood, pancreatic ducts, hair follicles, skin biopsies and liposuctioned fat.

For a more detailed examination of cloning, go to the Q&A page on Cloning. This also includes a detailed article (Stem cells and Genesis) on the Biblical and scientific aspects of stem cell research. Again, for a more detailed article on this particular case, see First human embryo clone? What really happened, and what are the ethics involved?.

Published: 3 February 2006