Cloning is the creation of a genetic duplicate of an existing organism. Human cloning starts by creating a human embryo that carries the same set of genes as an existing person. If this embryo is used for research purposes—say, for generating some types of stem cells—the process is called research cloning. If instead the embryo is implanted in a woman’s uterus and brought to term to produce a child, the process is called reproductive cloning. Religion is among the most powerful factors shaping attitudes toward human reproductive cloning.
Symbols in the view of Religions
“Red” indicates a full stop to research and/or cloning. The policy analogue is a permanent moratorium or prohibition.
“Flashing red” indicates the need to stop to evaluate risks before proceeding. The policy analogue is a temporary moratorium until important scientific and social questions are addressed.
“Amber” indicates the need to proceed with caution and care, slowing the pace of or stopping research as necessary. The policy analogue is a regulatory model coupled with the adoption of guidelines by relevant professional bodies.
“Green” indicates permission for cloning research and/or cloning on the assumption that other stakeholders in human cloning will conform to norms of professional and social responsibility. The policy analogue is the adoption of guidelines by relevant professional bodies.
RELIGION V/S CLONING
African American Churches
Cloning Research: Flashing Red ; Human Cloning: Red
The African American churches, stemming from Methodist and Baptist traditions, locate themselves within the “black Christian tradition.” This tradition is united by commitment to a fundamental principle of human equality before God, often phrased as “the parenthood of God and the kinship of all peoples.”
African American churches affirm about Embryo Research and Therapy, along with elements of historical Christianity, that human life begins at conception. The use of human embryos for medical research is problematic, since it involves experimentation on living human embryos rather than embryonic material. In addition, the tradition is concerned about the procedures required for creating embryos and those used in discarding embryos. A minimal criterion of moral acceptability is therapeutic intent: Cloning of human cells, for example, should not be allowed to benefit any individual racial or ethnic group “outside of the context of a clearly identified, morally defensible, medically justifiable” condition that would benefit from such technology. African American churches do not have any objections to the use of reproductive technologies per se as a means of bringing children into the world. However, the churches’ principle of equality is invoked to criticize selective access to reproductive technologies, particularly to the exclusion of African Americans.
Cloning Research: Flashing Red ; Human Cloning: Amber
The Buddha’s warning to his followers that speculation about metaphysical issues was futile because the human problems of birth, old age, death, and sorrow remain regardless. However, basic Buddhist teachings present an ethic of responsibility, centered on the values of non-injury and the relief of suffering of sentient beings, compassion, the “no-self,” the moral authority of intuition, and reincarnation. These values offer some elements of a Buddhist response to reproductive and genetic technologies, including cloning.
In the view of Procreation and Reproduction,Buddhist scholars generally agree about that the process by which children are born into the world makes no difference. “Individuals can begin their lives in many ways,” including but not limited to human sexual generation. Cloning is thereby understood as an alternative method of generating new human life, in principle continuous with other methods. One Buddhist ethicist has supported use of reproductive technology, so long as it benefits the couple who wish to have a child and does not bring pain or suffering. However, some Buddhist scholars find in human cloning an impoverished approach to procreation. It marks a diminished creativity and diversity, analogous to the difference between the creativity, initiative, and investment that is required for an original painting and the mechanistic process required to reproduce the painting. While cloning might be permissible under some understandings of Buddhism, the scientific research necessary to build up to cloning encounters difficulties. Part of the “Noble Eightfold Path” promulgated by the Buddha prohibits infliction of violence or harm on sentient beings. This would seem to permit research on human pre-embryos, but the primacy Buddhism places on birth as a human being as a necessary condition of enlightenment can restrict such research. Buddhism does hold that a new being comes into existence shortly after fertilization. Moreover, especially where the research process is very inefficient and causes loss of life, both embryo research and animal research would be especially problematic.
Cloning Research: Flashing Red ; Human Cloning: Flashing Red
“Hinduism” is a western term for a family of philosophies and religious practices that have their origins in the Aryan period of Indian history and the Vedic scriptures (1200 BCE). There is no formal teaching authority for the world’s one billion Hindus (Hindu population in the United States is estimated at two million). However, classical texts and commentary have offered four principal values: Dharma (virtue, morality); Artha (wealth, power); Kama (aesthetics, sexuality); Moksa (liberation) to guide Hindu life.
Creation by Cloning : Values embedded in Hindu narrative tradition may offer the community analogues to human cloning. Hindu creation narratives are replete with references to the creation of a person, a deity, or social groups through cells of skin or drops of blood. However, in a classic narrative, the Ramayana, only demonic persons (asuras) come from divine blood. This suggests to some Hindu spiritual leaders that society has little control over ensuring only good outcomes of cloning. Some Hindu scholars may permit human cloning under very circumscribed or exceptional circumstances. The primacy of generational continuity, especially the establishment of father-son lineage, is underscored in the Mahabharata (an Indian epic analogous to the Odyssey). The continuation of generational lineage may take place through several different methods of having a son as offspring, including a “son by artifice, a son who comes by himself, …[and] the son of unknown seed.” The epic also indicates that when a lineage is threatened by extinction, a different law— appaddharma— applies and permits production of offspring through relationships outside of marriage.
Cloning Research: Amber ; Human Cloning: Flashing Red
Islam does not recognize a separation of religion, ethics, law, and politics; rather, Islamic law or Shari’a regulates belief, worship, the family, and personal and social morality. Islamic scholars have recently begun to apply the tradition’s authoritative sources—Qur’anic teachings, stories attributed to the Prophet (hadith), and Shari’a— to developments in modern biomedicine.
The Qur’an describes persons who reject God and follow Satan as persons who “will change God’s creation”. This has led leading Sunni authorities in Saudi Arabia and Egypt to condemn cloning as “the work of the devil” and advocate punishment for scientific researchers. However, Islamic jurists in general have not interpreted this Qur’anic passage to preclude forms of genetic intervention, such as somatic cell therapy, provided that such interventions are done for therapeutic purposes and are life-promoting in intent. The question Islam poses to proposals for human cloning is this: In what sense can such research legitimately be described as therapeutic?
The Shari’a places moral priority on refraining from harm over the production of benefits. The formation of public policy on a medical technology then must place the burden of proof on those who advocate technological innovation to establish clear benefits and to weigh immediate and prospective long-term harms.
Cloning Research: Amber ; Human Cloning: Amber
Judaism is the oldest of the western monotheistic faith traditions. Its primary source of authority is the Torah, the revealed will of God in the Hebrew Bible, and rabbinic commentaries on the Torah contained in the Talmud and Mishnah. Jewish scholars have drawn on their authoritative sources and casuistical reasoning to make substantial contributions to biomedical ethics since its inception. Indeed, discussion of human cloning by Jewish scholars begins to appear in the late 1970s.
Jewish scholars are wary of a public policy prohibiting cloning research, which would violate the command of mastery, interfere with valuable scientific research, and compromise public oversight and accountability. It is considered important to pursue scientific research that precedes cloning for transfer because of its potential benefits. Since Jewish law does not grant full moral status to the human embryo, cloning research conducted on the early human embryo can be warranted; however, a high incidence of embryo deaths, attributable to the inefficiency of research, would violate the maxim of do no harm. Jewish scholars support extensive consideration by the Jewish community of the ethical and social issues pertaining to human cloning. Rabbinic discussion does express fundamental concerns about the potential commodification of human life through cloning. Insofar as cloning, coupled with capitalistic motivations, transforms the person into a product or fungible commodity, it would violate the sacred character of human life.
Cloning Research: Flashing Red ; Human Cloning: Flashing Red
Native Americans do not partition religion from other life domains; rather, religion is a “way of life.” Good health requires living in conformity with the ways of life Native Americans received at the time of creation. The whole of creation is good within Native American narratives and all creation is animated, interrelated, and responsible for harmonious interaction to sustain the order of life in the world.Animal cloning, and the potential for human cloning, risks substantial disruption of the created order and balance. Animal research erodes the reverence and kinship between humans and other created beings. Cloning research on human embryos symbolizes the western, non-Native pursuit of technical solutions to what are ultimately metaphysical problems; moreover, these technological skills are not accompanied by necessary practical wisdom about the ways of life.
Cloning Research: Red ; Human Cloning: Red
The Bible and the wisdom of the tradition provide grounds for the ecclesiastical teaching content of Orthodox Christianity. Theologians within both denominations, as well as the Orthodox Church in America itself, have addressed the subject of cloning.
Orthodox theologians extend the dignity and respect owed to the person to the human embryo. This does not depend on a claim about ensoulment, but rather exhibits human finitude and fallibility: “We must treat the developing embryo with dignity and respect, because we do not know when it becomes a person”. Moreover, the inefficiency of current cloning techniques, if applied to human embryos, would constitute a tragedy of loss of potential human life. Such positions necessarily preclude cloning research on the embryo.
Roman Catholic Christianity
Cloning Research: Red ; Human Cloning: Red
The religious and moral authority for Roman Catholicism is grounded in the witness of God and Jesus Christ in the Bible, as interpreted through the teaching office (magisterium) of the Church. In the United States, Roman Catholic teaching is coordinated by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB). Roman Catholic theologians, though not always in agreement with magisterial teaching, have been among the most influential contributors in biomedical ethics, and have addressed the possibility of human cloning since the 1960s.
Roman Catholic theologians have emphasized the sins of pride and self-interest, and the human conditions of finitude and fallibility, in assessing the prospects of human cloning. However, avoiding pride should not mean falling into the sin of sloth. Human beings have a divine responsibility for dominion that can be expanded through justified scientific research.
Cloning tissues and organs falls under a different category that cloning human beings. I think it would be advantageous to science and medicine to clone tissues and organs. However, the research in this involves fetal tissue which is a completely different ethical discussion. I do not know enough about the procedure be against it. So, with my present understanding I would allow cloning for tissues and organs and not for humans.
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It’s a SUMMARY of Religious Perspectives on Human Cloning by Courtney S. Campbell.