Hello Hello Dolly Dolly

In the classic science-fiction film Blade Runner, geneticists have created a line of clones—exact genetic copies of human beings. These clones are turned into slaves and forced to perform work deemed too hazardous for so-called “real” humans. Scottish geneticists recently took the first step toward making the vision of Blade Runner a reality: They cloned an adult sheep. In doing so these real-life geneticists may have opened the door to a dangerous devaluing of human life. Last week newspapers around the world said “Hello Dolly”—not to Carol Channing, but to a seven-month-old sheep. Dolly is the first large mammal ever produced through cloning. Geneticists in Edinburgh, led by Dr. Ian Wilmut, replaced the DNA of one sheep’s unfertilized egg with the DNA of another sheep. The result was a perfect genetic copy of the second sheep. Their success was the culmination of a decades-old effort by geneticists to clone large mammals for commercial and research purposes. To some, cloning sheep may bring up visions of tastier lamb chops and warmer wool sweaters. But there’s a down side to Dolly’s birth, as well. The history of technology suggests that scientists will be unable to resist confining their efforts to mere sheep or other animals. Inevitably they will ask: Is it possible to clone people? Dr. Wilmut has said, “There is no reason in principle why you [could not] clone humans.” But, Wilmut hastens to add, “all of us would find that offensive.” Let’s hope so. Leon Kass, an ethicist with the University of Chicago, writes that every time technology weakens the link between sex and childbearing, our values change. For example, the advent of the birth control pill brought about a huge increase in extramarital relations. And the legalization of abortion introduced the idea that human beings could be judged as “convenient” or “inconvenient.” Given this history, can anyone seriously doubt that people who are literally “made-to-order” would be the cheapest life of all? After all, our culture has already convinced itself that children produced the natural way aren’t fully human before birth, and therefore not worthy of legal protection. What would we think about people produced in a lab? What would we make of people who lack uniqueness and individuality? The potential for abuse is monstrous. These are the arguments Christians have to make about cloning—especially when researchers talk glibly about the importance of scientific “progress.” Why not call your representative in Congress and urge him to sponsor a bill that would outlaw human cloning. Such a ban already exists in Europe, and it hasn’t halted scientific progress. In the film Blade Runner, the cloning experiment ended badly, and geneticists rued the day they began cloning humans. You and I have to do everything possible to make certain that when it comes to cloning, this time life does not imitate art.


Chuck Colson


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