Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Here Today, Cloned Tomorrow? ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Here Today, Cloned Tomorrow? ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

Picture a viennese ball. The dancers are young women wearing the debutantes' "uniform" - long white dresses - and their escorts in dark tuxedo suits.

At a glance, the dancing duos look like so many identical pairs. Look more closely, though, and you see the diversity of individuals. No two dancers are alike, despite their similar outfits. You can see this in their faces, their posture, the way they interact with their partners. Their identity isn't limited to the clothes and steps they have in common, but is expressed in their characters, their relationships with each other - their individualities fashioned and formed through almost two decades of learning lessons and experiencing life.

Cut to Blacksburg, Virginia, where five piglets have been produced by the modern wonder of cloning. The ethical questions this once again raises will need to be sincerely addressed by medical ethicists, by politicians, and by the public at large. For now, though, a simple question to ask oneself is this: Do we need to be frightened when we see cloned creatures? Call it the "Frankenstein Syndrome," perhaps, but the first sighting of a litter of humanly produced identical piglets can make one feel squeamish!

It need not. What may make us feel this way is a perception that these creatures are nothing more than manipulated flesh.

According to the evidence of the eyes, that's all they are - five identical, physical pigs. Yet, what is identity? Does identical physical composition an identical entity make? Call it intuition, call it faith, but something says that the identity of animals - like the identity of human beings - is more than the visible, measurable, outer "clothing" of flesh and blood and bones.

Take a closer look at any creature, and there are qualities and characteristics that are individual. This hints that each entity we perceive as material has to have a unique and specific spiritual identity - not replicated and not able to be replicated. …

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