What are your views on cloning, genetic engineering, and the possibility of "genism"? How would you classify these advancements? Are the issues that surround them ethical, legal, scientific, or social, or all of the above?
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Big question. I suppose if I am honest I do find something deeply disquieting about the whole idea of cloning. It just seems to me to be "playing god" and I fear that it may cause far more problems than we could ever anticipate. Let us remember that Dolly the Sheep, the infamous first cloned sheep, was only able to be "built" or "cloned" after thousands of abortive attempts, and these products all died. It just seems to me to be interfering with nature too much and the established systems of creation.
The possibility of genism does seem to me to be a serious problem. With the rising costs of health care in particular, it seems that there will be strong incentives for firms to shy away from hiring or insuring people with the "wrong" genes.
As for what kind of problem this is, it is a legal one in a sense but underlying it is an ethical question. Is it ethical (and therefore should it be legal) to refuse to hire someone who is qualified for a job simply because they may someday get a disease or condition that would cost you a lot of money? It's a tough question...
I have very strong feelings against any tampering with, alteration of, "building", or creating life by artificial means! It's not our place! Not only are the practices of cloning, genetic engineering, and "genism" moral issues, but they are religious as well. I believe in the existence of God, and the right to create new life belongs to him. He created us to have babies by heterosexual reproduction (both a man and a woman). That is natural to our species. Any other way is unnatural. Tampering with our genes or genetic code, or "making" babies in test tubes will only bring us horrible nightmares.
As a mother, one of the most exhilarating and fulfilling things I've ever done in my life was to conceive, nurture, and bring forth my children. Nothing can replace the stirring of new life inside me, the intensity of my labor, and the indescribable joy of finally holding them in my arms when it was all over. Was it easy? Not on your life was it easy! It was uncomfortable, painful, stressful and potentially life-threatening, but I would do it all over again!
So, in conclusion, I would have to say that cloning, genetic altering, and "genism" are morally, ethically, scientifically, legally, and socially wrong. That's how I feel!
I worry that some people will see what the baby will look like before it is fully developed and decide to terminate it because it does not look like they want, or won't be as smart as they want. A debilitating illness is one thing, but terminating a pregnancy because of eye or hair color? I think some parents would do it.
Would a fully cloned, non-biologically birthed human have a soul? If that clone is identical to its progenitor does the soul split, is a new soul generated, or is there none at all? Just wondering.
As far as the moral aspects go, I think there are many gray areas to be discussed. We should ask ourselves if there is a difference between cloning parts of a body and cloning a whole body. I myself would support cloning parts for replacement and repair... although I don't know if you could clone parts of the brain. Would they function the same way? We simply don't have enough experience or knowledge to really know what the results will be. About the only thing we know for sure is that there will be no movie-style mutations; aberrations tend to die very quickly because the human body has a limited range of survivability.
All of the above, plus religious, plus economic - if genetic alterations lead to longer life spans due to the reduction in the numbers of deaths due to genetic abnormalities and diseases, the death rate will decline and increasing population will become more of a concern than it is now. The moral and ethical questions are huge.
I have to say that my stance on cloning, et al, is grounded in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and her theme that man shouldn't play God. I cannot imagine how mankind could ever clone a human being, and I wonder (if he could) how a clone would have a soul? The philosophical question arises with regard to what makes each of us individual—can man create a spark of life that takes place when a child is conceived? For me, it rests more in the miracle of life created, as opposed to the contrived production of a person. Some things cannot be manipulated by people; however, I don't think of this primarily as a theological question. If it were to become a reality, I might.
That is not to say that I don't believe in cloning, let's say, a liver or a pancreas. I can tell you from sad experiences within my circle of friends that the loss of life because of the inability to replace these organs and stop the spread of cancer is an overwhelming tragedy.
I also do not have a problem with things like stem cell research, as long as life is not taken for the sake of the research, or life given for the sake of research. This becomes a touchy area when people start speaking of the sacrifice of one for the benefit of the many. I can't agree with that. However, if research can be conducted without a loss of life in any fashion—even the loss of a fertilized egg (for I cannot be convinced that this is not life), then I'm fine with it.
I don't think I will ever feel comfortable with the idea of creating a human being. Heavens, having one's own children and helping them find their way in life is hard enough. How could we ever be successful with clones, when we still have so far to go to care for and protect the community of children around the world?
Although the idea of cloning is certainly a scientific issue, it has certainly seen more and more ethical, social, and legal ramifications and for good reason. The idea of creating another life as a copy of a previous life devalues the original life. The idea of cloning organs even borders on the boundaries of ethical medical behavior because of the previously stated idea of playing "God". There is a reason human life comes to an end. If life could be extended on Earth, and was purposefully extended, we would deal with a great social problem... caring for the elderly much longer than our society can afford.
I am sure there is a positive reason for cloning cells. We just have to find it and use it with great care and concern for human life and the need for an end to life.
Just because we have the ability to do something doesn't mean we should, and I think this applies to cloning. While the idea of cloning is an astounding leap forward in the scientific world, it carries with it such an overwhelming number of ethical concerns that need to be considered. I am sure there are pros, many of which are mentioned above, but the cons just outweigh it for me.
There are two objections to cloning or genetically designed babies, in my opinion. First, we are tampering with evolution, a process that seems to have served us pretty well thus far. Natural selection promotes a variability of traits that will or will not pass the test of time and utility. Tampering with that process is something we do at our peril. Second, if we allow cloning and designer babies, we will simply be permitting those among us with the most money to reap the benefit, creating still a larger gap between the haves and have-nots. Has anyone read Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, a deeply moving book and a very cautionary tale?
I have a concern about cloning that I have not seen mentioned yet. I believe we are close to being able to clone tissues to repair malfunctioning human organs. For example, we are just about able to cure diabetes by cloning pancreatic islet cells to replace the deficient ones found in diabetic patients.
My concern is this: How much will these procedures cost? I bet we are talking about more than 1 million dollars for each patient treated by organ cloning. Can society afford this? There are millions of diabetics in this country. Every one of them would understandably seek this treatment. And, to say something controversial, I believe that there are not too many people that society would, if given the choice, vote to invest a million dollars to keep alive a few years longer.
If it can be done, it will be done, regardless. The wisdom to use any new technology always seems to sadly lag behind the discovery of any new technology. Will there be problems? Of course. But the science has arrived, and only by trial and error, or the discovery of wisdom, will we be able to choose the best course. I'm sure those with the means and access will (soon, if not already) make self "backups."
The concept of a clone's soul is interesting....do others object to cloning because it calls into question what exactly the soul is?
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