The following is a copy of a question and answer session between C. Ben Mitchell and Faith & Family Values Magazine editors for the magazine's January/February 2005 issue (p.5).
NEWS THAT A GROUP HAS BEEN LICENSED TO CLONE HUMAN BEINGS HAS REIGNITED THE DEBATE OVER THE MORALITY OF HUMAN CLONING. BRITAIN'S HUMAN FERTILIZATION AND EMBRYOLOGY AUTHORITY IS ALLOWING THE ROSLIN INSTITUTE IN EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND-UNDER THE DIRECTION OF IAN WILMUT, WHO PRODUCED THE CLONED SHEEP, DOLLY-TO CLONE HUMAN EMBRYOS FOR STEM CELL RESEARCH RELATED TO MOTOR NEURON DISEASE. WILMUT'S EFFORTS ARE CALLED "THERAPEUTIC CLONING" - THE CLONED EMBRYOS WILL LIVE FOR SIX TO FOURTEEN DAYS BEFORE THEIR STEM CELLS ARE EXTRACTED AND THE EMBRYO KILLED. THE RESEARCH IS NOT THERAPEUTIC FOR THE TINY HUMANS MURDERED, SAID C. BEN MITCHELL, PH.D., IN AN INTERVIEW WITH FAITH & FAMILY VALUES.FFV: Would a cloned human being be a person? In other words, would a clone have a soul?
CBM: Actually, the question should be: Is a human clone a soul? When God breathed the breath of life into Adam's nostrils, he became a living soul. All of Adam's progeny are likewise living souls. So, we do not have souls, we are souls. Thus, we have every reason to believe that a cloned human being would be a soul. Dolly, the first cloned mammal, was still a sheep. Cloning does not change one's species. Similarly, a cloned human being would be a member of our species, Homo sapiens. She would have all the genetic material that any other human has. To be human is to be an ensouled person, and to be an ensouled person is to be a human being. A cloned human being would still be an imager of God. That's why we worry about the risks to cloned human embryos. Even the earliest human embryo is an imager of God, and we should not endanger her life in research. It would be very dangerous to assume that cloned humans were not ensouled imagers of God. If they are not full-fledged persons, that would justify using them like lab rats for research. But because cloned humans would be imagers of God, we should respect them and protect their lives as we would any other human being.
FFV: Most of the arguments against human cloning have focused on safety. If it were safe, would it be okay?CBM: Absolutely not. And we would do well not to limit our arguments against cloning to safety. Right now, safety is one issue. We should not put human embryonic life at risk. Remember, embryos are people too—very young people, but people nonetheless. But what if one day cloning were as safe as normal procreation? Would that make it right to clone a human being? Of course not. Children should not be the products of our design. They are made in the image of God and have an inalienable right to an open future under God. Cloning turns children into objects of manufacture rather than gifts from God. Human beings, even those not yet born, should never be regarded as commodities.C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D., is associate professor ofbioethics and contemporary culture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, co-director of the biotechnology project and fellow of the Council of Biotechnology Policy for the Wilberforce Forum, senior fellow of the Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity, and editor of Ethics & Medicine: An International Journal of Bioethics. To read Dr. Mitchell's writings on cloning and other bioethics issues, visit the web site of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity.