Why Cloning Is Immoral
Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences cloned two monkeys last year, according to research published on January 24 in the journal Cell. The first of these macaques was born last November. The second was born last December. They are technically not the first monkeys to ever be artificially cloned. Scientists produced identical twin macaques in 1999 by splitting a macaque embryo in half. But the macaques cloned last year are the first monkeys to be cloned using somatic cell nuclear transfer—the technique used to clone Dolly the sheep in 1996.
Somatic cell nuclear transfer involves extracting the nucleus of a cell from an adult animal and injecting it into a fertilized egg whose nucleus has been removed. This genetically modified egg is then implanted into a surrogate mother, who carries the baby until it is ready to be delivered (usually by cesarean section). The clone has a genetic makeup that is at least theoretically identical to its nucleus donor. Since Dolly the sheep was cloned over 20 years ago, around 23 other species have been cloned using this method—including cats, cows, horses and pigs.
Even though the process sounds straightforward, it never results in a healthy animal. Less than 4 percent of clones survive beyond six months. Even those that survive longer often end up suffering from oversized heads, twisted limbs, malformed kidneys and other deformities.
The reasons for these deformities are not well understood, but Ian Wilmut, a scientist at the Roslin Institute, believes the cloning process switches off certain genes needed to create a healthy animal.
The team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences admits they tried 79 times before they found a way to clone a monkey that survived more than a few days. Despite the tremendous amount of animal suffering involved in these experiments, scientists are debating whether or not this technology could be used to clone humans.
“Humans are primates. So (for) the cloning of primate species, including humans, the technical barrier is now broken,” Dr. Mu-Ming Poo told reporters. “The reason … we broke this barrier is to produce animal models that are useful for medicine, for human health. There is no intention to apply this method to humans.”
While only evolutionists believe that humans are primates, many scientists believe using monkeys to test new drugs will allow them to more effectively treat human patients in the future. They believe that testing these drugs on clone monkeys will reduce complicating factors caused by genetic variability in non-cloned animals. The team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences wants to use cloned monkeys to study treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
Attempting to clone a human being is illegal in many countries, although China has taken a lax position on this type of research. Chinese scientists at Xiangya School of Medicine claim that they have cloned at least 30 human embryos for stem cell research. The scientists say they harvested stem cells from these embryos in an attempt to grow organs for transplant. The human embryos used in these experiments were torn apart three to five days after fertilization. Since these embryos were not transferred to a surrogate mother, they would not have survived much longer than that.
Both atheism and Confucianism (China’s main ideologies) claim that an embryo is nothing more than a clump of cells before it is born, thus negating any guilt involved in this type of research. But the Bible condemns cloning on both animal and human embryos. “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Proverbs 12:10).
God gave mankind dominion over animals. He also gave special instructions on which animals we should and should not eat. But God’s Word condemns scientists who torture baby monkeys with kidneys that do not function simply because they want to grow them in a petri dish instead of allowing them to be naturally conceived the way God designed. Researchers are in a quest to avert the consequences of diseases, without addressing the underlying causes of those diseases. The Bible reveals not only spiritual laws but also health laws. It is wrong to justify animal cruelty in a quest for good health and prosperity.
Concerning human embryos, God instructed the ancient Israelites to treat someone who caused an unborn child to die prematurely the same as any other murderer.
“If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life” (Exodus 21:22-23).
God considers the life of an unborn child equal to that of an adult. Every time a scientist extracts the nucleus of a human embryo during an experiment, it results in the death of a human being.
The other thing that most scientists do not understand about human beings is that, unlike monkeys, they are more than a collection of living cells. There is a spiritual component in humans that elevates them above animals. “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding” (Job 32:8).
Even if a scientist could clone a human body, they cannot clone the human spirit. Only God can put this spirit into a human being. It is what gives humans free will and intellectual reasoning capacity. It is what gives humans the ability to choose moral and spiritual values, to develop character. It is what allows humans to have a special relationship with God. For a detailed look into this subject, request our free booklet What Science Can’t Discover About the Human Mind, by Herbert W. Armstrong.