On February 12, 2001, an international research consortium and a competing
private company that raced last year to finish the summary mapping of the
human genome announced their first analyses of the vast bodies of data they
discovered (see our previous Special Focus).
An article in Scientific
American published the same day, Reading the Book of Life, offers
perspective: "[The genome mapping effort] was...one of the greatest
scientific undertakings of all time. But these drafts revealed only the
beginning of the story--the scrolls containing the instructions for life.
Now both teams have started reading--gene after gene--the actual scriptures
within the scrolls."
On a public radio talkshow today, Dr. Skip Garner, who served on the Human
Genome Project (the international consortium) said of the analysis, "We're
finding out just how complex we are." Some like Garner, claim unmistakable
proof of the theory of macro-evolution while others claim further support
for the Intelligent Design theory.
As more findings and potentialities unfold, the primary question for
bioethicists seems to be, "How measured should our advances be and how will
we determine their use?" Reverend Kevin T. Fitzgerald, assistant professor
at the Loyola University Medical Center, worries, "Some of the proposed
uses of human genetic engineering that are defended solely by
philosophical, legal or political arguments run counter to our common-sense
view of right and wrong."
Do scientific advances carry a de facto imprimatur? (Should we, since "we
can"?) Are we on a slippery slope regarding the use of human lives for
enhancing or even saving other humans? (This, of course, raises that
persistent question of when life begins.) What will result from the change
to an orientation toward "quality of life"? On the other hand, shouldn't
medicine aggressively engage promising therapies given the breakthroughs we
have already seen? Is science pushing ahead without reflection? How far
have we come in the field of cloning and how urgent are these questions
now? We touch on these vital issues and more in our Special Focus.
—Leadership University Editor/Webmaster, Byron Barlowe
Begetting and Cloning
The author, a Protestant theologian, considers the question of human
cloning. He seeks to understand and explain the issue in a distinctly
Christian context. This task involves looking back to the biblical account
of God's plan for family life.
C. Ben Mitchell
Government-approved human cloning may begin any day now. Already we've seen
the cloning of sheep, monkeys, cows, and pigs--a veritable barnyard of
clones. Ole McDonald, the mythical farmer, is next.
To Clone Or Not To Clone
Is cloning inherently evil or merely a tool? Are there circumstances in
which cloning a human might be good?
Affirming Ourselves to Death
"..'Affirm[ing]' every person in whatever state he...may be, we find it
difficult to state and adhere to any standard of conduct. To articulate
such an ideal might seem too much like condemning those who do not meet
it." A fitting example: human cloning.
Can Humans Be Cloned Like Sheep?
Dr. Ray Bohlin
A scientist trained in cloning techniques looks at the cloning of Dolly the
sheep, examining the value of cloning in general and humans in particular.
Includes 8 concerns about human cloning from a Christian perspective.
Two Boats, a Helicopter & Stem Cells
Russell E. Saltzman
Saltzman writes about his own experience with diabetes and his reaction to
those who would harvest fetal tissue in order to advance research into
cures for his disease.
Michael Kinsley Out on a Limb: Stem-Cell Rationale Recalls Ideas of
Syndicated columnist Michael Kinsley tries to use an out-dated evolutionary
theory to support embryonic stem-cell research, and is roundly trounced in
this article by Nancy Pearcey, which was published in Human Events.
Genetic Testing for Diseases: A Judeo-Christian Perspective
Recent advances in technology (the polymerase chain reaction, in
particular) make it possible to characterize the genotype of single cells,
or rare mutant cells in a population of normal cells..... A variety of
ethical problems arise from knowledge gained by the power of this
technology. Issues such as the right to privacy and ethical questions about
the personhood of the unborn come into play. We will look at some of the
ethical issues that arise from this technology and will examine how
different worldviews shape our approach to those issues. In particular, I
will contrast the Naturalist worldview with the Christian worldview . We
will then look at some of the logical consequences for adopting either
The Sanctity of Human Life: Harvesting Human Fetal Parts
Dr. Ray Bohlin
Once a sanctity of human life standard is abandoned for a quality of life
ethic, a slippery ethical slope leads to horrors undreamed of even 20 years
ago. Legalized abortion has led to the sale of fetal tissue and eventually
to legalized euthanasia.
Go here to see our past Special Focus features.