Cloning, Stem Cell Research,
and Genetic Engineering
Ethical and Spiritual Commentary
Yesterday, the news was blistering with
the announcement of the birth of the first human cloned baby. The
owner of the company that offers this service as well as her spiritual
mentor gave ever so many interviews to the press over and above
the initial news release and brief statements (in which Rael was
not a participant.) I do not know why Dr. Boisselier chose to have
Rael present during the interviews, perhaps because she wanted
moral support, perhaps in order to fortify the religious position
on cloning since the bioethicists would certainly waste no time
in presenting their views . . . and the FDA has not approved cloning
as a medical procedure for humans.
This said, this day absolutely had to happen. It had to happen
because it would not be possible to prevent scientists from implementing
their knowledge . . . and because science itself is so deeply wedded
to materialism that attaining immortality through this particular
mechanism would sooner or later not only be a goal but a potential.
The ethical arguments center mainly on the normalityphysically,
emotionally, intellectually, and spirituallyof the person
created in this manner, the detractors saying that preliminary
experiments with animals have not shown that the technology exists
to create perfect examples of the species. Aside from this issue,
there are few jarring ethical arguments.
I personally am not offended by human cloning nearly to the same
extent that I am by experiments on animals, largely because of
the consensual issue. I have consistently taken the position that
my body is both my temple and my own. As a temple, I can build
more than one copy from the same blueprint, and it is worth doing
this if I can staff the temple. Whether or not I or anyone else
can staff the temple remains to be seen. As far as my body being
my own is concerned, I have much more resentment over the use of
viruses to engineer food, the intrusion of vaccines into bananas
and other articles of food, and the crossing of species by using
cod genes to protect tomatoes from damage from cold. For me, these
experiments cross the line because absolutely no safety studies
suggest that the food created in this manner is safe to consume
. . . or that the ecological systems of the Planet can be restored
if the experiments prove to be a disaster. That they are likely
to be a disaster seems almost certain.
Being a vegetarian, I bitterly resent the cross species experiments.
Not accepting the germ
theory for what it purported to explain throughout the 20th
century is further basis for rejecting vaccines in my food supply.
The list is long. I also resent xenohormones in
and there are truly profound spiritual and medical reasons for
rejecting this contamination of the food supply that, in my opinion,
are far more serious than the human cloning issues.
The question is whether we draw lines in the sand. If we do, where
do we draw them? Can we stop science from creating more and more
diabolical weapons? It seems we cannot so our power is focused
on how to control the weapons once they are developed . . . and
everyone on the Planet ought now to be actively involved in this
issue because it is far more important than half a dozen cloned
Cloning is obviously tempting. Our desire to perpetuate ourselves
must be one of the many distortions of our identity crisis, but
if one takes Rael at face value (which I am inclined to do), then
cloning is, in his mind, the beginning of an efficiency measure.
He believes we will be able to download all of our experience into
a new form and that growth of the form can be accelerated so that
the tedious process of learning what we already know can be obviated.
This is obviously something to consider in an age when we stand
on the brink of truly amazing Galactic travel in which wear and
tear on forms may pose a risk to exploration, discovery, and long
journeys. I'm sure he has other reasons as well.
The method of procreation in some species, and perhaps early on
in the human species, entails a type of cloning. In fact, sexual
reproduction involves what we might call cloning except that the
egg and seed of two donors are used instead of merely one. It must
be really frustrating to men that they cannot clone themselves,
but it is truly amazing that women can. For me, there are deep
reasons for a woman to seek immortality apart from male intervention;
but I do not know if a woman can succeed.
Here is my proposition. Life comes from
spirit and the form is material. Holding a form together without
spirit is probably impossible. I am not suggesting that it is impossible
to create the appearance of life for a short time, but I think
this appearance is most often based on superficial observations
of residual prana. By this, I mean that everything in Creation
has a pranic component and, in some instances, this may separate
gradually from the form. When this occurs, the appearance of life
remains, sort of like using a respirator to make lungs work, but
there is no spirit in the breath. Sooner or later, the appearance
of life will disappear, but we all know of instances in which the
refusal to accept this prolonged the appearance.
So now the question is who vivifies the clones? Since the technique
for replicating my DNA is different from downloading my memory
and perhaps different again from finding a soul to inhabit the
clone, we simply have to watch. Again, however, I might propose
that the queue for incarnating is likely very long and there are
souls who will gladly venture an incarnation in a cloned form,
and they may have a variety of different reasons for this willingness.
Therefore, I am not offended by this; not a single nerve is pinched
by the notion that a fully conscious incarnating individual would
choose a cloned form over one that was produced through artificial
insemination or normal impregnation. In fact, the desirability
of such a form might surpass one from a drug addicted mother who
My questions concern the concept of immortality. In this case,
we are talking about immortality of some DNA, not immortality of
the incarnating individual, which, in my belief is guaranteed anyway.
For countless millennia now, reproduction has involved a process
of greater and greater diversification through the vagaries of
the selection and mutation processes. If one feels one has achieved
a perfect form, then the desire for greater mutation ceases to
exist even if the notion of perfection is subject to doubts.
Yesterday's press releases did not make
it known who the mothers are nor what their reasons for cloning
are. I suspect we will soon learn that all the participants are
Raelians, and this will surely add to the drama.
With stem cell research, I am stymied by the religious objections
and wish to submit some of my own views.
Since Edward Jenner first inoculated humans with cowpox, we have
been introducing foreign substances into our bodies on medical
pretexts, i.e., as differentiated from food taken as medicine or
nutrition. We donate and transfuse blood. Very few are objecting
to this even though it poses some risks as well as saves lives.
We transplant organs. We simply have not harvested eggs from a
woman for the purpose of growing new tissue or cloning. We think
there is a line in the sand between donating a heart from a previous
owner whose body has given up the ghost, an apt metaphor in this
instance, and donating an egg for in vitro fertilization or use
by a surrogate mother or a woman who wishes to clone herself (for
whatever reasons she has.)
If you listen to Christopher Reeve on the topic of stem cell research,
there really can be no resistance to the use of his wife's egg
to help rebuild his own spinal column. The only ethical arguments
advanced to-date are that women might be exploited for their eggs.
Are men who donate sperm to sperm banks exploited? Granted, the
method of harvesting is different, but so long as the process is
100% voluntary, there is no exploitation; and it absolutely doesn't
really matter whether the person offering the eggs is paid or not
for her eggs. The issue of payment is entirely separate from the
issue of ethics. If there is no pressure on the donor and she offers
her eggs lovingly, there is wonder at work, not exploitation. If
she is paid and the exchange is fair, i.e., someone who is rich
helps someone who is less well off, so be it. This is the way of
the market, and there is a medical market whose realities are sometimes
heart breaking and sometimes uplifting.
I personally am somewhat disgusted by transfusions and transplants
so I submitted my hygienic resistance to Buddhist sages and was
basically reminded that the opportunity to be incarnate is a precious
opportunity and it should not be squandered. Therefore, if there
is a way to prolong life that does no harm to others, one should
support the prolongation.
So, what is most difficult for me to understand and accept is that
the same religious and political groups that seem to support sanctions
and war and capital punishment are opposed to stem cell research
and cloning. I find these people irrational. They obviously do
not understand life because on the one hand, they are willing to
take life, but they are not willing to support the gift of life.
I have therefore cast my vote in favor of these controversial new
sciences because, in the end, I think they are more humane than
they are offensive.
This said, I have no personal interest in cloning myself. I am
committed, for the moment, to the much less efficient and often
arduous method of repeatedly incarnatingand trying to recover
lost memoryuntil my destiny is fulfilled.
28 December 2002