This node used to be entitled: Does a Cloned Human have a Soul? This caused some confusion in the interpretation of my node and so I requested the present title change.



Some people have asked me whether or not there has been any consideration of whether a cloned human would actually be a human person as the Church (Roman Catholic) currently defines a person? If the cloned human is, in fact, an exact "replica" of an existing person, what is the moral status and the actual status of that cloned individual's soul? Would they be a human person in their own right?

Perhaps it might first help to explain exactly how cloning would work. The nucleus of a mature but unfertilized human egg would be removed (by micosurgery or by irradiation) and replaced with a nucleus obtained from a specialized somatic cell of an adult (an intestinal cell or a skin cell). Since almost all the hereditary material (DNA) of a cell is contained within its nucleus, the renucleated egg and the individual person into whom it develops would be genetically identical to the adult that was the source of the transferred nucleus. Thus, the origin of the new individual human person would not be the Providential union of egg and sperm, with the generation of a new and unique genetic arrangement or genotype, but rather the contrived perpetuation into another human person of an already existing genotype.

From this description, one can see that the origins of the cloned human person are thoroughly human: the mature but unfertilized human egg and the specialized somatic cell of another human person. The cloned human person would indeed be human and, therefore, would have a human soul. However, this person's human dignity is fundamentally violated because he/she was deprived of his/her own unique genetic makeup. The natural occurrence of identical twins - both of whom one would regard as fully human - in no way weakens the argument against the artificial production of identical humans: there are many things that occur accidentally that ought not to be done deliberately.

Under the theology of the RCC, cloning is indeed seriously evil for this reason, in addition to the reason that cloning dismisses both the unitive and procreative meanings of the marital act. In fact, the marital act is itself dismissed. And this is a violation of the natural moral order. Beyond these wrongs, even if cloned human persons have human souls, the haunting possible, probably inevitable, consequence is that they would be TREATED as less than human.


It bothers me when people misinterpret a factual node for an opinion node. This node is based on the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, not my personal opinion. Since the RCC teaches that in fact, the natural order is to be born of a male and a female, via a proper conjugal act, creating a wholely individual person genetically, then this node accurately depicts the reasoning behind it. The stance is made clear. Whether natural twins, triplets etc., is warranting equality with cloned individuals, or vice versa, is not for me to decide. The node is based on the Holy See, if you don't like what they preach take it up with them. Don't down vote me because you don't agree with the content of the node; I noded what the RCC preaches, to inform people of that particular faith.
The Custodian: point well taken about posting here. I edited the node, the fourth paragraph precisely (as recommended by Torque to read: "Under RCC theology", rather than, "This is a serious evil". I hope this clears this up. My intention was simply to node this topic and link it to my What Catholics Really Believe node, to shed some light on the subject. The Catholic Church would not judge clones any less than human (this applies to m_turner as he/she states) but the Church does worry that instead of viewing a clone as an autonomous individual with absolute rights such as a non-cloned individual, people will look at clones as transplant factories, body-part shopping centers, created to be owned and used among other things, or simply less-than-human.
"This person's human dignity is fundamentally violated"? How do you figure that? If, in fact, that person's situation is in no way different than that of an identical twin, then it would seem to me that you are basing this violation on acts performed before the child was even conceived, much less born. Isn't Christianity big on the cleansing of Original Sin?

These people would be treated as less than human simply because of the argument you're making here. This is at worst tautological; at best, it's a specious argument. They will be treated as they will because of the preconceptions of those who will interact with them. Thus, arguments such as these serve to essentially guarantee their ill treatment by claiming irrefutably their 'difference' from other human beings.

Different isn't what an argument says it is. Different is how you feel. If no-one tells you, or tells your friends or others, that you are a clone, you won't feel any different. If the fact is revealed to you years later and there is no social stigma attached, you might feel 'different' - but how so less than maybe an adopted child discovering their origin? What matters is how you were raised and loved; how you were taught, how you were disciplined and exhorted, how well your body functions whether from genetic or teratogenic indicators, and thousands of other things between your parents or guardians and yourself.

The origin of your genetic code, especially if it's verifiably that of one of your parent's, is completely irrelevant to the physiological and emotional development of your personality unless others around you make it relevant. Think carefully before arguing this; it smacks of 'preparing the way for discrimination.' And, lest we think it's argued for charitable purposes, remember that pity can be the worst discrimination of all.

How about if I was cloned because my parents found that their combined genomes carried an incredibly high risk of genetic disease or disorder if merged? What then? Has my 'human dignity' been violated? If these people are anyone I'd want as a parent, they would decide that the health of their child is more important than the presence of the bloodline of one of them; this decision is made every day by those using donated sperm and/or eggs, or those adopting children.

If you ask me (which I know you didn't) the attempt by other humans to decide whether I, as a person, have a soul is far more of a violation of my dignity than anything I can imagine being done to my genome other than intentional destruction.


Although I don't think this is the case here, it bothers me when people argue a position with phrases like '(x) is indeed seriously evil' and then claim that they are simply reporting on a higher authority's position. If you are indeed doing so, claim that at the top of the argument and avoid subjective phraseology. If, however, you are posting something which you believe in no matter what the origin (and you state that people ask you about this, so you must believe in the answer enough to pass it on unless you're a hypocrite, which you don't seem to be to me), then by your acceptance and endorsement, you have expressed an opinion on the contents.

Finally, posting something here on Everything to inform people of a particular faith what that faith teaches is almost an oxymoron. If you're going to post it here, it's going to be argued here, with you, the poster; we're not going to launch into an email debate with the Holy See, now, are we? Finally, given the highly obviously diverse nature of this place, you must assume that anything you post is going to be evaluated from a large number of viewpoints. Note that Zanth appears quite ready for the discussion, meaning this was indeed considered.


Zanth: Thanks. Sorry for the slightly over the top reaction. I put this here to inform all who join this argument late that Zanth has behaved like a true noder in /msg-ing for clarification and disagreement; I'm pleased to have had the quibble!

Ignoring the Catholic Church...

    Genesis 2:7 "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

The Hebrew word translated as soul is nephesh, meaning a breathing creature, or perhaps by extension life.

If it's alive, then it has (is) a "soul." If it's human then it has (is) a human "soul."

This was written before Roman Catholic became a part of the node title...

For the sake of argument, let us assume that there is such a thing as a soul, and that everyone has one.

In 1975 there was a couple, husband and wife. Unable to naturally conceive a child for some reason, an advance of medical technology allowed the conception itself to take place outside the body, and have the embryo placed within the mother. This process is known as in vitro from the Latin "in glass". On July 25, 1975 Louise Brown was born to a loving family.

October 4, 2000 a new baby is born. His name is Adam. He has an older sister, named Molly. Adam was selected from many possible siblings - one that didn't have genetic disorder - a genetic disorder that is killing his sister. While the parents want to have a healthy child, his life can serve a greater good at no cost to himself. Blood from Adam's umbilical cord was infused into Molly in an operation that gives her an 85% chance of beating the disease that would have left untreated resulted in a fatal leukemia. Without the screening, at best Adam would have a 18% chance of being free from the disease and having the ability to save his sister's life.

Today, a number of genetic diseases and abnormalities have been identified and pined down to exact places on the human genome. It is certain that with the continued mapping of the genome, more will be identified.

How important is the uniqueness of genetic information? If humans are a small population, then it could cause problems. However, we are not a small population - our numbers are in the billions. If anything, this is more a problem to the world, but overpopulation is a different issue all together. Entire papers have been written about Nature vs. Nurture. Everyone is a unique person - that is the onlything they have agreed upon.

Let us consider a more down to earth problem, one that strikes at the ourselves. There are parts of our bodies that are redundant. I have two kidneys, a number of bones with bone marrow in them, two lungs and a bunch of other parts. Let us picture something happing to your son or daughter - for some environmental reason your child gets leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. No one can be found as a match, and your child's days are numbered. The only possible place to grow more bone marrow that matches is in another human being - from conception onward. Yes, a clone.

Has any dignity been lost? Will you love the new baby any less than you love your first child? Is the possibility of life not better than the certain death of a child? Is being an identical twin separated by years that much of a stigma that it is an evil act?

I hope that no one will ever have to say to another person "I'm sorry, we have the ability to save your life, but have decided that it is morally wrong."

If there is anything that is sacred - it is the potential of life. The Catholic church is well known for expounding upon the sacredness of life yet to be born. What about life that is living now?

Would you treat your clone with anything less than the respect that you wish others to treet you?

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