Cloning has become a very contentious subject. The issue of cloning has moved from the scientific arena into the cultural, religious and ethical centers of debate, for good reasons. The scientific implications of cloning affects a wide range of social and ethical concerns. The theory of cloning questions many essential areas of ethical and philosophical concern about what human life is and raises the question whether we have the right or even the qualifications to alter life and living beings. It is no wonder that in the light of the extremely contentious way that cloning impacts on important issues that there should be strong and forthright opinions on the subject. Bearing this in mind it becomes all the more important to keep an open mind and to also hear the other side of the argument,
There are many reason why cloning should be condoned. On the one hand it is true that many new scientific discoveries or techniques have traditionally met with opposition from many quarters. One only has to think of the furor that the discovery of artificial insemination caused.
Experts say the shift to acceptance of cloning follows the same shift pattern that occurred with regard to artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, the freezing of human embryos and surrogate motherhood. (Is Human Cloning Inevitable?)
Cloning is therefore part of the natural scientific progression and another instance of human discovery through technology. Those who oppose cloning would therefore be opposing progress. The cloning process also offers many medial benefits and can be used in the treatment of illness and disease. Those who oppose cloning on the other hand point out that cloning has the potential to disrupt and destroy many important aspects of society. They state that institutions like the family are in danger if cloning should be generally accepted. One of their main arguments against cloning is that cloning goes against central and important moral and ethical principles
Both sides of the argument make valid and important points. It is obvious that a revolutionary technology like cloning will have an impact on social and philosophical issues. It is certainly true that cloning confronts many of the most essential moral and ethical questions of our time; such as the question of human creation itself. One of the biggest problems that cloning presents is the disruption and even the destruction of human institutions such as the family and parenting. On a different but related level, cloning is a threat to religious perceptions and challenges the very meaning of what it is to be a human being. Besides the scientific debate about the pros and cons of cloning, there in no doubt that ethical dilemma is extremely serious. As many commentators across the intellectual spectrum point out, the idea of cloning and creating genetic duplicates of human beings places the entire concept of what it means to be human at stake. From a religious point-of-view this is tantamount to saying that man can create himself instead of God, which undermines the foundations of many of the world's prominent theologies.
Cloning also brings into question the entire gamut of cultural and societal issues. A question that is often asked by those on both sides of the debate is -- if cloning is followed to its logical conclusion then what will happen to the relationship between parents and their offspring, the structure of the family and the roles of the sexes? There is no doubt on either side that cloning will radically alter these aspects; the only difference is that one group sees this in a positive light, while the other sees it as regression and not as an advancement for mankind. Prominent in the argument against cloning is the view of the Catholic Church, which is representative of the objections of most of the formal religious institutions. Their objection to cloning is one that goes to the heart of what human nature is about. The Church states that cloning relates to the very question of whether human life is a gift from God or just another "industrial product" or commodity that can be traded with.
Those in favor of cloning however present a number of convincing arguments. They point out that the process will have enormous benefits in medical terms. They also point out that the intention of cloning is not to disrupt of destroy but to improve human life. They state that the discovery of cloning itself was not intended to confront or contradict prevailing ideas and philosophies. The basic concept of cloning has a fairly long history in medical terms and was first brought to the public's attention about thirty years ago with the successful asexual reproduction of tadpole clones through a technique known as nuclear transplantation. The scientist responsible for this feat was the Nobel laureate geneticist, Joshua Lederberg. He was of the opinion that "cloning could help us overcome the unpredictable variety that still rules human reproduction and would allow us to benefit from perpetuating superior genetic endowments." (Brannigan) This view is an example of the spirit, which informs the almost irresistible urge towards scientific discovery and revealing beneficial possibilities of cloning. It emphasizes the view that sees cloning as an aid in the progression and development of human science and knowledge. This is indicated by the fact that "... somatic cell nuclear transfer technology may have many beneficial applications for biotechnology, livestock production, and new medical applications, including the production of pharmaceutical proteins and prospects for regeneration and repair of human tissues." (Kass and Wilson xv)
Both arguments have merit. There is not doubt that cloning has already shown positive scientific and medical benefits. In discussing this subject we have to be very careful of one important thing -- that our views do not become prejudices or unmovable and fixated ideologies. Those who oppose cloning on ethical and religious grounds should not become closed off to the scientific possibilities that cloning offers. It should not be forgotten that the cloning process does have potential to save lives. However having stated this one should not be blind to the dangers of the cloning process. If one considers the various arguments carefully there can only one rational conclusion - these dangers outweigh the possible medical and scientific benefits. The question that has to be asked and answered in all honesty is whether the possible benefits are worth the risk to our society, the family and out religious and moral beliefs. If one considers the present evidence he answer can only be a resounding no to the unbridled use of cloning technology.
The reason for this rejection of cloning is not a rejection of the process itself but the way this process is being managed and the obvious dangers of its misuse. The central danger is that the cloning technology will be used for commercial purposes. Another related reason is that human reproduction will almost certainly be seen as "production" ands lose its essential vital social meaning. This will in turn result in the loss of family values in society. I think that even those who advocate cloning on a scientific basis will have to concede that cloning would have to strictly controlled to make it less dangerous to society.
The fear that cloning will result in the destruction of the value of human reproduction was expressed in early reactions to the reality of cloning and serves an exampled of what could go wrong. "Commentators were quick to speculate about the possibility of cloning humans. The Los Angeles Times opined that such a discovery 'opens the door to a 'Blade Runner' world of human replicants'; tabloid newspapers warned of "master races" and promised production lines of movie and sports stars. (Kass and Wilson xv). At the time many considered these fears to be unfounded, but these speculations have recently been substantiated by even more alarming and radical claims relating to the possibilities of cloning. This refers to those who claim that cloning will usher in a new and unrestricted era of human creation. An Italian doctor, Severino Antinori, recently announced that he was in the process of cloning a human baby. Claims of conducting experiments to clone humans have been made by an American religious sect, "Clone Aid," which shortly expects a "new creation" to arrive through cloning technology. They intend to use the cells of a dead baby for cloning, with the express purpose of bringing it back to life as a newborn. (Bedford-Strohm. 203)
Statements like these have raised eyebrows and created doubts in the minds of liberal thinker who were previously in favor of cloning. The opposition to cloning is growing from within very scientific community and from those liberal thinkers who previously advocated cloning on the basis of scientific advancement. The fact that a previous advocate like Jeremy Rifkin is opposing cloning is a clear warning sign that the dangers of the process far outweigh the benefits. Rifkin, the author of The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World, recently added his voice to…