Moral and Philosophical Considerations
When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars which thou has established What is man that thou art mindful of him
and the son of man that thou dost care for him? Yet thou has made him little less than God,
and dost crown him with glory and honor. Thou has given him dominion
over the works of thy hands;
thou hast put all things under his feet ...
O Lord, our Lord
How majestic is thy name in all the earth! (Ps. 8).
Because God crowns every single person with glory and honor, it is His will that every child should be born into a family consisting of a father and a mother joined in matrimony. The child should feel that he belongs there, that parents love him and care for him. Brothers and sisters, grandfathers and grandmothers, uncles and aunts fill out the love nest inside of which God wishes to awaken each new child whom He places into this world. By receiving so much love from a father and mother, day after day, in sickness and in health, in good weather and bad, for better and for worse, a child should learn to give love in turn. That's why cloning is so wrong, so unjust, so unnatural!
When God joined Adam and Eve in monogamous matrimony, He transplanted some of the bliss of the Blessed Trinity into a trinity of father, mother, and child on earth. When God brought Eve to Adam, there was bliss in that first marriage. The man was ecstatic and he said: "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; and she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh" Gen 2:23-24). Christ confirmed that the marriage of Adam and Eve was monogamous and for life, in Matthew Chapter 19. It is God's plan that children learn to love both God and man when they see how father and mother love each other.
We do not oppose cloning out of fear that clones might overpopulate the earth; nor is our primary concern that Republican cloners might clone voters faster than Democrats. Our deepest concern is not even that a Rockefeller or other eugenics-minded groups might attempt to produce a super-race, and eliminate us lesser beings. Our reasons go even deeper than that.
The Church loves people, of course, lots of them. The Catechism salutes large families with the words: "Sacred Scripture and the Church's traditional practice see in large families a sign of God's blessing and of parental generosity" (No. 2373). The new Latin version of this sentence reads in the Catechism even more elegantly: Sacra Scriptura et traditionalis praxis Ecclesiae in familiis numerosis signum vident benedictionis divinae et generositatis parentum. My father and mother, who bore and raised us ten rambunctious children, would love this sentence. They tamed us with their practice of the faith; and with the help of the stick always within easy reach behind the mirror. The Catechism italicizes the two words large families. That's putting a halo on parents of many children.
But while the Church blesses large families, she does not sprinkle holy water on human incubators. The Catechism (No. 2376) states that it is only married spouses who have the "right to become a father and a mother [and] only through each other." Even married couples don't have a right to procreate children artificially. For it is possible only through a free and loving act of intercourse that spouses can become genuine fathers and mothers of children; whereas by artificial procreation methods they act more like poultry producers who own their chickens. For the child there is a vast difference between knowing a father and a mother, and being produced in a hatchery. The Catechism states that the act which brings a child into existence must be one
by which two persons give themselves to one another. (It must not be an act which) entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of dominion is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children... (No. 2377).
In other words, the child has a right to be procreated in the manner which God has in mind for it. In this aspect, parents and their child are equals before God. He made the parents, He makes the child. Both parties obey Him, both parties respect each other out of reverence for God their maker.
The Catechism goes on to explain that parents don't have a right to have children, but children have a right to have parents.
2378 A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The "supreme gift of marriage" is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged "right to a child" would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right "to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents, and "the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception."
Parents have a right to receive children from God, and these children come packaged with rights already received from God.
Cloners are absolutely wrong if they think they can put together a human being by technological manufacture. They can't produce a human soul. No doctor, no technician, no geneticist can produce a human being alone. If God does not assist with an almighty act of creation, no man can procreate another man. Not even parents give souls to their offspring. Children don't get hand-me-down souls like they get hand-me-down clothes. Only God can create souls, and He always creates new ones.
That only God can create human souls was once contested by theologians. Tertullian, an early theologian in the Church (155-c.220), theorized that parents give souls to their children. He thought that this was an easy way to explain how parents pass on original sin to their offspring. This lawyer had a passion for precision. Another theologian in France, Irenaeus of Lyons who was born 30 years before Tertullian, (125-203), who is known as the Father of Catholic Theology, had explained that it is in some mystic sense that original sin is transmitted from Adam to us. Tertullian sniffed at mystic meanings. He sought a simpler explanation. So he invented the idea that parents beget the souls of their children. Adam sinned first, and then passed on sinful souls to his children, and in this fashion we all get souls infected with original sin.
Tertulian was always blunt in his writings and usually highly charged with anger. To his credit, he formulated a new thesaurus of theological terminology by which the Roman Church could define dogmas sharply and avoid pitfalls of ambiguity which dogged the Eastern Church and sometimes tore her apart. For this he deserves praise. But not for his doctrine of what is called "Traducianism." Not for his wrong idea that parents give souls to their children.
Patience was not Tertullian's strong point. When he wrote about patience he confessed that he felt like an invalid talking about health, since he himself was always sick with the fever of impatience. "Forever a fighter, he knew no relenting towards his enemies, whether pagans, Jews, heretics, or later on, Catholics. All his writings are polemic" (Quasten II,247). He was forever an advocate, out to win his case, to annihilate his adversaries. Eventually he left the Church and joined the Montanists (see Quasten II, 248).
The theory of Traducianism that parents beget the souls of their children as well as their bodies was never accepted by the Church. In a sense the theory would make the souls we receive at conception "second hand" souls, already used by our parents and their parents in turn, all the way through the generations until Adam. If that were true, then if one's father was a swindler, his ways would presumably be imprinted on the soul of his son. If the mother was an opera singer, her daughter might be hired by the Grand Opera Company. Smart parents would have smart children, dumb parents dull offspring.
The truth is quite otherwise. God creates each human soul personally, by His own hand. We are all new creatures, newly minted by God, sparkling and brilliant as coins issuing from the mint. We are not hand-me-down personalities of parents. Parents present the gametes to build a new body. The soul is not in either of the gametes before they fuse. When the haploid cells fuse at fertilization, God, if He so wills, creates a new person. The fused cell then materializes as a new human being.
The Pontifical Academy for Life, on July 9, 1997, declared that human cloning, if done, would not duplicate a person. The clone would duplicate body structures, but not personal identity. The Academy stated that the spiritual soul cannot be generated by the parents, cannot be produced by artificial fertilization, cannot be cloned (see The Pope Speaks, 1998, p. 28).
The ultimate particles of matter within the gametes of parents, like bricks in a wall, are undifferentiated. These minute particles are interchangeable. If all my particles of matter were to migrate into you and your particles into me, neither of us would change. We would remain just as we are now. The building elements are not life. Life shapes up the particles into a living body. Particles can't do that by themselves. The soul grabs these particles and holds them in place. It shapes the body along the structural lines of the blue prints which are the genes. The parents present the gametes which contain the initial building materials and genetic structures. But it is God who, by almighty power, creates the soul which brings the gametes into new life. Once God creates the soul that person will live on forever. The soul is a spiritual substance more powerful and enduring than matter. Yet, as Lactantius declared long ago, souls cannot reproduce other souls, as bodies reproduce bodies:
A body may be produced from a body, since something is contributed from both; but a soul cannot be produced from souls, because nothing can depart from a slight and incomprehensible subject. Therefore the manner of the production of souls belongs entirely to God alone...For nothing but what is mortal can be generated from mortals... From this it is evident that souls are not given by parents, but by one and the same God and Father of all, who alone controls the law and method of their birth, since He alone produces them (De opif. 19, 1 ff; see Quasten II, 408-9).
St. Ambrose (340-397) repudiated Traducianism; so did St. Jerome (c.342-420) who grumped that this error excluded Tertullian from being a "man of the Church." With such clear opposition from the big powers, Traducianism was excluded from gaining a niche in accepted Church doctrine.
Origen: Pre-existence of Souls
Origen (185-253) had still another idea about the existence of human souls. Origen's father was a fervent Christian who became a martyr. When Origen wanted to go out to become a martyr too, his resourceful mother had other ideas. She hid his clothes so he couldn't leave the house to join his father in martyrdom, and thereby saved his life for the Church (Quasten II, 37).
Not long after this, in 203, Bishop Demetrius put the young Origen in charge of the famous School of Alexandria in Egypt. He proved to be an intellectual giant, a prodigy with an encyclopedic mind. He also drew to his school capable students who greatly influenced the intellectual currents of the Church.
For twenty eight years (203-231) Origen presided at the School of Alexandria as an intellectual and formative leader in the Church. Unfortunately, influenced by the philosophy of Plato, he theorized that souls are fallen celestial spirits who are now inserted into bodies. In a former life, thought Origen, these souls offended God. God then punished them by banishing them from the celestial sphere. He cast them down to earth and imprisoned them into human bodies for purification and restoration. Each of us, so theorized Origen, lived once before and committed sins in that previous existence. God then inserted us into bodies to do penance. Origen developed this theory in his De Principiis, I, 5, 6, 7 (see Tennant 297). According to him, if souls sinned much in their previous lives, they would be born dumb and dull into their bodies; but if they had been relatively good before, they would be born as bright people into our present world:
Whence some are found from the very commencement of their lives to be of more active intellect, others again of a slower habit of mind, and some are born wholly obtuse, and altogether incapable of instruction (De Princ. II, 9, 3-4).
Is it not more in conformity with reason, that every soul, for certain mysterious reasons (I speak now according to the opinion of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Empedocles, whom Celsus frequently names), is introduced into a body and is introduced according to its deserts and former actions? (Contra Cels. 1,32; see Quasten II,91-92).
When Origen moved to Palestinian Caesarea he was confronted there with the practice of baptizing infants. He noted that "the Church received a tradition from the Apostles, to baptize even infants" (Com. in Rom 5; see Tennant 300). The Baptism of children to forgive original sin inherited from Adam didn't square with his own theory that these children had once lived a sinful life themselves. His theory never became Church doctrine.
Against the quaint views of pioneer theologians Tertullian and Origen, Catholic teaching states categorically that souls do not exist anywhere before they are outfitted with bodies. If they were created today, they were not there yesterday. They were neither in their parents, nor in heaven nor on earth nor even in the bosom of God. Our souls never stood in line waiting for our turn to receive bodies. Before God created us we were nothing. Simply nothing. God acts anew with divine power each time He creates another person. As The Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims:
366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God -- it is not "produced" by the parents -- and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.
What follows from all this? We ask legitimately, will God create a soul if cloners put together a viable body?
The George Washington University Cloning Experiment
Before we begin a moral evaluation of cloning, let us review some of the technical material. We begin with an experiment done in 1993 at George Washington University. You may have read conflicting reports about it as I did, but I believe that the following description provided by Dr. Antonio Pardo in Dolentium Hominum is factual (No. 36, 1997,3, pp. 28-31). One of his primary references is to an article in Fertility and Sterility (1993;60, 2 sup., S1) two of whose authors J.L. Hall and R.J. Stillman, the researchers who did the experiment.
The researchers, explains Dr. Pardo, took seventeen embryos which were left-overs from in vitro reproduction attempts, and which were not viable because they were triploids, that is, two spermatozoa had penetrated a single ovule. The initial seventeen triploid embryos were at various stages of development consisting of two, four and eight cells. The researchers withdrew them from within the zona pellucida, then separated the embryos into single cell units by means of micro-manipulation. These single cells where then placed into a cultivation medium with polyalginate which replaced the zona pellucida and permitted further growth.
The results were as follows: when the original embryo was eight cells, the single cells vivisected from it developed into two, then four, then at most into eight cells and then stopped. When the original was four, the dissected single cells could multiply at most into sixteen. But when the original embryo was only two cells, the single cells multiplied to 2, then to 4, 8, 16, and 32 cell stage still in good condition; it is not known whether they could have developed more. Hall and Stillman stopped the experiment at this point. It would have been necessary to implant them to continue their further development.
Dr. Pardo points out that we do not know whether the same results could be obtained with normal two cell embryos, but we have reason to suspect that it would be possible. We can already see this in animal studies and from spontaneous human twinning. But cloning two-cell embryos in this fashion is not clinically helpful. It does not yield more embryos suitable for in vitro reproduction. The mortality rate due to manipulation is so high that less rather than more embryos would survive for implantation. Human embryos, observes Dr. Pardo, "are much more delicate than bull-calf embryos, on which the division of embryos from choice races is being successfully practiced, though with very low effectiveness as well." Stillman and Hall were at first acclaimed for their experiment, but a public outcry arose against their action. They eventually returned the prize they had gained for their work because they had not obtained a required previous clearance from an independent ethics committee for their protocol. They were also subjected to other sanctions.
After the research was publicized, Pope John Paul II, on 20 November 1993, reacted firmly and strongly. "The embryo has to be recognized as a being subject to the laws of nations, otherwise we are endangering humanity," he said (AFP-Jiji).
We conclude this section about multiplying human embryos by means of vivisection, which likely has no future. It is a method which, even if successful, would not produce a clone of an adult person. It could possibly result in producing identical twins instead of a single new baby, etc., but that would not be something people are looking for.
The Cloning of Dolly the Sheep
The more likely direction cloning might take is the pattern followed to produce Dolly Two from Dolly One, the original sheep. The same Dr. Pardo provides the following description of the process used to clone Dolly the sheep at the Roslin Institute in Scotland. Dr. Ian Wilmot headed the project, and Dr. Ron James is usually named together with him as researcher. Dolly the clone was born on 25 February 1997, and immediately set the media buzzing with excitement, oftentimes more fanciful than realistic.
Before the attempts were made to clone with a cell from an adult animal, the Roslin Institute had previously pioneered a way to render embryonic cells dormant, which was the crucial step toward later success. They took embryo cells and manipulated them into a dormant state. To do this they placed them into a culture medium, and diminished the concentration of nutritive proteins in the medium in successive stages from 10% all the way down to only 0.5%. The cells then halted their division. In other words, they became dormant. Dr. Pardo describes what followed:
In this way, it was possible to halt the division of cells in cultivation. In another action, ovules were taken and their nucleus was extracted by aspiration through a micropipette. As a final step, the cultivated cells [which were now dormant] and the enucleated ovules were placed in contact and subjected to a brief electric pulsation for two purposes: on the one hand, to create micropores in the membrane of the two cells placed in contact and so to produce a fusion; on the other, to open the calcium channels in the membrane, provoking a reaction similar to the one caused by the spermatozoon on fertilizing the ovule and starting up the whole cell metabolism and the development of the new being (p.29).
The success of this fusion when using embryonic cells was next applied to cells taken from the mammalian glands of an adult sheep Dolly. There must be a reason for taking it from the udder of Dolly, not from other parts of her anatomy. I suspect the reason is that mammalian tissue, which initiates new growth when the ewe is pregnant for the first time, has cells which possess some of the dynamism of embryonic cells and may therefore be more responsive to cloning attempts than other cells of an adult body. At any rate, they took a cell from an adult ewe's udder and fused it with an ovule from which the nucleus had been extracted. The process differed in the number of steps which had to be taken in cultivation to bring the cell into the dormant state. The effectiveness of the technique was very low. From the fusion of 277 enucleated ovules with the corresponding cultivated cells, only 29 embryos were obtained and transferred to sheep. That's about one out of ten. From these twenty-nine in turn, only one lamb was born, Dolly Two.
This is not exactly cloning or replicating a single adult cell, since two cells are used, the one taken from an adult tissue which is then juxtaposed and fused with the enucleated ovule cell. The DNA of the nucleus from the adult cell, however, is singular in number, and makes a new run in Dolly Two.
Other animal clones followed Dolly Two in rapid succession: monkey clones and a bull calf in America; Holly and Belle female calves in Holland; and a calf in France to which was given the elegant name "Marguerite."
Nature magazine (1997;385:769-71) commented that the "importance of the experiment lies in the empirical demonstration that the mere stoppage of cell reproduction seems to reprogram the genetic system and enable it to begin embryonic development again until it reaches adulthood" (Pardo, 29). In other words, by stopping a cell's replication process, they set the genome sequences back to zero, ready to start a second run. Dr. Pardo points out, however, that programmed genetic sequences alone do not produce an adult. Genes are not independent of the rest of the organism. The DNA sequences react in coordination with the entire growing body of the embryo, and do not run as though they were independent of the growing body. Dr. Pardo explodes this simplistic theory: "The only way to induce the appearance of mature cells, starting from immature ones, is through complex interaction with other tissues, as embryologists well know; differentiated tissues may be obtained only in a complete embryo. The proposal to discover the keys to genetic programming and its application to obtain specific tissues is impossible, since it starts from an error concerning the basic concepts of embryology" (p. 30). On the other hand, to produce certain types of differentiated tissues in the laboratory, simple physical or chemical changes suffice, without need of the usual genetic inductor. [Addition, June 2000: the recently discovered ability to manipulate the growth of stem cells to become specific tissue outdates, to some extent at least, the assertion of Dr. Pardo that differentiated tissue can be obtained only in a complete embryo.]
As for human cloning, Dr. Wilmut and others oppose it for two reasons. Although they admit that it may be technically possible, it should never be attempted because it is a behavioral aberration and it lacks clinical utility. Furthermore, the new person would be a different individual from the parent clone. One cannot recover, for example, a deceased person; it would always be a new person, like a twin brother born a generation later. Dr. Pardo states: "This new person would be influenced by his own cultural situation, experiences, family life options, and so on. It would thus be pure chance to manage to have an Einstein, a great athlete, or an artist once again by cloning one of that person's cells" (p.31).
The Second Run of DNA Sequences in the Clone
I would like to speculate a bit with you about hazards of development of a clone before birth. His DNA is making a second run of the sequences of growth and development which that same DNA had made once before. During the first run, the sequences were responding flexibly to environmental influences, especially to various substances entering its system via the placenta. We think of nicotine, alcohol, drugs, residues of synthetic steroids, dioxins, well-balanced or ill-balanced diet of the mother, and others. The DNA, while engineering the normal paths of usual total development during its second run, would also react sensitively once more to the changed fetal environment. In the previous run it had engineered patterns of compensation to shore up damage from the environment, but may also have produced some defects and malformations. In other words, the history of the first run through the sequences is now written into the patterns of the genome of the adult cell that is making its second run.
The clone will make this second run through the DNA sequences during the period of its nine-month long development in the uterus of the surrogate mother. Has everything in its genome been set back to zero so that the second run is as flexible to respond to fetal environment as was the first run? Or does the new clone inherit all the fortuitous and compensatory and damaged patterns set during that first run? If the latter, it is not well equipped to meet the new environment without aggravating and compounding various inherited deformations as it interacts unsuitably to the new and present environment; and its patterns and sequences may be set too rigidly to respond with due flexibility to various environmental circumstances.
We may find it plausible to suppose that if the fetal environment during the nine months of the second run were always and ever exactly the same as it had been during the first run, the child would be born after nine months without excessive difficulties and as a pretty exact replica of its parent clone. But we know that the environment is not going to be exactly the same, and the trend would be toward more damage rather than less. If the former run of sequences was set hard as cement in patterns tailored to the environment during the first run, this is going to cause trouble when the environment is quite different during the second run. May that be one reason why only one of twenty-nine fetuses cloned from Dolly One made it to become Dolly Two? This speculation, at any rate, appears to make it all the more absurd to imagine that a cloned twin brother, born a generation later and developed in a different mother than the parent clone, will be exactly like the parent when it is born. And that is only the beginning. The physical and psychological environment during growth to adulthood will prevent the offspring clone from becoming an adult exactly like its parent clone.
Let us assume for the sake of discussion that it would be possible to clone humans by the method which produced Dolly the sheep. We ask whether the Creator would then create a soul to enliven the fused human cell. The answer is likely to be yes. God usually prefers to remain hidden so as not to deprive us of freedom to believe in Him or to refuse belief. He hides Himself from our eyes in this life so that our faith remains voluntary and free. It was St. Augustine who once said that if at the time of Baptism God would make the body immortal while He cleanses the soul of Original Sin, everyone would flock to Baptism, and faith would become too much like vision. We might reason that if God would not create souls when humans sin, when they fornicate, or commit rape, or do cloning, He would force our faith. He remains hidden to enable our faith to be free. St. Thomas Aquinas also observed that the natural process of conception proceeds as usual even after adultery because the sin of the free will does not become part of the biological process. The child remains innocent of the sin, he assures us (see Summa Contra Gentiles, II,89,16).
We may assume, I believe, that God would create souls for clones if technicians present viable biological materials. God does not usually stop evil by intervening visibly. He asks us to desist from doing evil in the first place. Dr. Luc Gormally, Director of the Linacre Centre, London, observes that when human biological materials are all in place, they are in a condition ready to receive a rational soul (Dolentium Hominum 28 (1995) pp. 27-31).
Cloners are technological rapists. Sex rapists seek gratification through brute force against hapless victims. Technological rapists gratify an irresponsible lust for power by manufacturing children who have no parents. It is impossible to clone in a manner by which they can give a father and a mother to the child. A cloned child would have no father, no mother. It would be an orphan. It is a product of technology. Microscopes and pincettes are not parents. But every child has a right to parents; it is a universal right.
Whether the cloner seeks to produce a super race by eugenic improvement; whether narcissistic impulses drive him to reproduce his own precious self; whether he intends to provide entertainers, sports champions, literary geniuses, even a population of Einsteins for human welfare, he wrongs the child whom he manipulates to achieve a child clone. A cloned child is a slave produced for the good of others, not for its own good. It is treated like property managed for the benefit of others. It is not treated with the dignity of a human being who belongs to himself and to God, but to no other human person. This is the heart of the matter. As philosopher John Crosby writes:
Human beings are never rightly owned as mere property, but should be recognized as individuals who each has a certain ownership of his or her own being...It is in virtue of our personhood that we can never be used or owned... Each human person is a subject of rights. To violate another's basic human rights is to invade the sphere of what is his own; a person has rights because he belongs to himself (John F. Crosby, "Human Person" in Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine, p. 307).
There are a myriad other philosophical and social reasons against cloning, including laws about inheriting properties from parents, laws about nationality by birth, undetermined relationship with siblings, and laws against commercial traffic in human beings. Cloning for profit could become a huge business. Just select your preferences from the catalogue and pay up.
If cloning were done it would radically exploit women, evaluating their worth by genes, ova and wombs. The Pontifical Academy for Life observed that the basic relationships of the human person would be subverted, namely "filiation, consanguinity, kinship, parenthood. A woman can be the twin sister of her mother, lack a biological father and be the daughter of her grandmother." ("Human Cloning is Immoral" July 9 1997, see The Pope Speaks, 1998, p. 29). Moreover "there will be a growing conviction that the value of man and woman does not depend on their personal identity but only on those biological qualities that can be appraised and therefore selected." The cloners would be expecting the desired results from their clone, "and this would constitute a true and proper attack on his personal subjectivity" (p. 30). When the Pontifical Academy for Life met again in February 1998, they again issued a complete condemnation of efforts to clone human beings (CWNEWS, 3/3/98).
The prime and non-negotiable reason against cloning is that this method of bringing people to life is contrary to the dignity and rights of a human being. Each person is a subject with rights, who exists for himself, not for exploitation by others. He is one single sovereign personality. He is an image of God who is Personal Existence. The Lord God says "I am who am." His image, the human person says: "I am me, I am myself. You can't own me, because I own myself, and I'm not for sale." Cloning is as wrong as slavery.
The procreation of a new human being is a partnership project; humans work in partnership with God. Unless God gives consent to the action, the human partners act against their divine Partner. God does not consent to human cloning. His rule is: "Thou shalt not bring children to life except through a father and a mother joined in matrimony." We believe this in the light of our own insight into what is right and wrong; we believe it also because the Church teaches this evident truth.
Whether cloning is right or wrong depends not on whether it can be done or undone. Cloners are subject to God just as every other human being is subject to Him. Because we are not God, we dare not defy Him by manipulating human life in a manner contrary to His will.
The Bible tells us how God created Adam: "The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Gen 2:7). God created would-be cloners in the same way. They will all die tomorrow, as Adam died yesterday.
After they die, cloners would will have no paid attorneys to defend their action against God the Judge. Escape from God they cannot. God will ask them, as He asked Adam: "What did you do?" That's when every cloner will have to give an account of himself.
Even if cloning were 100% successful; even if cloners would not kill ten or a hundred or a thousand young lives in unsuccessful attempts, but would succeed every time; even so, cloning would always be a transgression against God's law. And whatever is done against God's law damages human society in the long run. All of God's laws undergird the welfare of the human race.
God made us for Himself, not for indulging a lust for power of play-boy scientists, nor for profit-making by clone dealers. God made us for Himself, to live here for Him, to live hereafter with Him. To start us on our way, He wants us to be born of a father and a mother into a loving family circle, there to give us a fair start on our journey toward heaven.
Our Souls, Made for God, Are Not for Sale
We cannot see our souls, cannot feel them, cannot weigh them. But God made our souls so robust that no power on earth can destroy them. The ball on a wrecker's crane cannot smash them. An atomic reactor cannot melt them down. Like Daniel and his companions, our souls can dance and sing even in a super-heated furnace.
Can our souls do anything in this life which is pure soul-action, independent of joint action together with the body? In one sense, yes. We do it all the time. We think without the body, then use the brain as a movie screen on which to project our thoughts, to sort them out, to make them more visible and palpable. Our brain can't think by itself any more than a violin can play itself. A violin needs an artist to resonate sweet sounds, and our brain needs spiritual thoughts of the soul to do any thinking. Our brain then helps the soul to align its thoughts in proper order, especially through the faculty of human speech. Let us reflect for a few moments on the marvels of human speech.
When speaking, we maneuver our speech organs and send a pressured airstream through them which originates in the lungs and is issued under pressure generated by the diaphragm bellows and surrounding musculature. By varying the tension of our drawn vocal cords we set the pitch of the tone. When we qualify and format these tonal frequencies of intermittent air jets by shaping and resonating them within the supralaryngeal tract, and exit this speech-calibrated stream of air, our neighbor can comprehend the thought which is in our mind; that thought which the nerves of the brain have translated into electro-chemical signals, which our speech organs have released into the air as articulated air pressure variance signals. If the recipient knows the language of the speaker, these air pressure signals carry a semantic code for the listener. The people who know us even recognize the individual resonance and clipped articulation of our voice, which has our personal trademark.
What we do by speaking is nothing short of the phenomenal. Eric H. Lennenberg, when recording three radio newscasters, found that they spoke an average of 5.7, 5.9, and 6.0 syllables per second. For each syllable there are about 2.4 phonemes, distinguishable sound-coded identities; that totals about fourteen phonemes per second (6 X 2.4). All the while we form and reform our air passage to resonate and articulate the sound. The passage from one phoneme into another -- its onset, the phone itself, and then the subsequent transition -- depends ultimately upon the differences in muscle adjustments. The brain gives the muscles their proper orders to contract, to relax, or to hold their tonus. At least one hundred muscles are engaged simultaneously. The brain therefore sends these fourteen hundred orders per second to produce the phonemes in rapid succession to the targeted 100 engaged muscles (see Lennenberg, 91-92). If we admire piano virtuosos who can play 16-20 notes per second, all the more do we marvel our speech automatisms with which may be doing up to 1400 articulations per second with perfect ease - 70 times faster than the flying fingers of the piano virtuoso.
The brain does not just fire off the fourteen hundred orders per second at random. It issues the electro-chemical neural transmissions in that magnitude of power and that order of sequence at which we are giving command. The arrival of the nerve's electro-chemical transmission at the target muscle must be in proper sequence, and its strength must stimulate the correct amplitude of the twitch of that muscle. The brain fires the signals from its motor strip terminal in a flurry of activity, subject to our conscious will to speak. Because some muscles are more distant from the source than others, the sequence of firing may need to be timed in reverse. Moreover, some of the nerves are thick and blitz the signal to the target muscle at about three hundred miles per hour, whereas other extremely fine nerves send the signal at a leisurely walking pace of 1.5 miles per hour. The brain must compute for distance and speed by firing the signals to coordinate the pull of the muscles to be exactly on split-second schedule to produce speech in proper order. Sometimes things get mixed up or go awry, and the ear, which monitors what is happening, admonishes us to correct ourselves and repeat, this time correctly. The short term memory keeps constant tabs on the on-going conversation and keeps our thoughts connected.
We can do all this with apparent ease and embellish what we say with added elegance of sparkling eyes, smiling face, and lilting voice when we deliver pleasant thoughts. Or, we can express displeasure by making the voice grate and rasp, by curling the lips, tweaking the nose, arching the eyebrows, clenching the fists, bulging the neck, erecting the hair, flushing the face scarlet, and flashing bolts of lightning from the eyes. Whether we speak with cooing love or with a towering rage, we can authenticate our intended meaning with these additional signs of communication.
Of course the brain doesn't pioneer all this every time we initiate verbal conversation. The brain is not an amateur but a seasoned professional, performing well after much practice. Our speech capabilities began to develop early, taking off at high speed around the age of two. The wiring of the brain for language ability is perfected only gradually. We marvel at the great abilities of our human souls when we reflect upon the marvels of human speech.
The soul can do even more than thinking its own thoughts. The soul was made by God who is Spirit; by God who dwells within us, and communicates with us; we can hear what God speaks to our souls. He whispers to us His commandments, His endearing words of love. He sanctifies us with truth. Christ prayed for us at the Last Supper: "Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou has given me, that they may be one, even as we are one...Sanctify them in the truth. They word is truth." Animals cannot speak with God. We can. The Lord gave us souls by which He can sanctify us for eternal life.
God Made Us For Himself
Why did God make you and me? The Catechism tells us why. "God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven." Away, then, with the manipulation of humans by cloning. We are made for God, not for a cloner's pleasure. Let's say it together to confound the cloners and to give honor to God. Answer the question altogether then, and loud as I ask it: Why did God make you: "God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven." Thank you.
ALL, American Life League monthly, P.O. Box 1350, Stafford, Virginia 22555 USA.
Aquinas, Saint Thomas, Summa Contra Gentiles, trans. James F. Anderson, Doubleday, New York, 1956.
Dolentium Hominum, Journal of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, published three times a year, Vatican.
Quasten, Johannes, Patrology, II, The Newman Press, Wesminster, Maryland; Spectrum Publishers, Utrecht, Antwerp, 1943.
Tennant, F.R., the Sources of the Doctrines of the Fall And Original Sin, Schoken Books, New York, First published 1903, Schoken Edition, 1968.
Father Anthony Zimmerman, STD is a retired professor of Moral Theology at the Divine Word Seminary affiliated with Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan. He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, and of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.
© Fr. Anthony Zimmerman, STD
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