Attack of the Right-wing: The Science of Cloning
synonymous with "Satan" among right-wing Christians.
exists the potential, in medical laboratories, to clone a human
being or that humans cells, and the bible-thumping crowd is
terrified. They know that there is a weirdo fringe group, kicked
out of the U.S. and now in Europe, that claims to have already cloned
a human. The fact that the U.S. Congress has outlawed the cloning
of a human being has brought them little relief; they want all cloning
research stopped. However, if one were to ask precisely what it
is they dont like about cloning, their response would be,
"No one should play God." That statement wins both the
Ignorant and Ambiguity Prizes of the millennium.
Naturally, lots of wires have gotten crossed among the right-wing fanatics.
They believe that "stem" (human embryonic) cell research forged
ahead because aborted embryos were the primary source for raw material.
The conservative crowd doesnt want abortion, and they dont
want human cells to be created, then branded as a commercial "thing".
They are unaware that the genesis of this research lay harmlessly in the
world of animals: a gangly teenaged prodigy injected an albino chicken
with normal chicken DNA and reversed the albinism. This experiment occurred
back in the 1970s; today the gangly prodigy is one of the worlds
leading experts in the field of cloning and embryonic cell research. His
main interest? To bring near-extinct animals back before they vanish,
and to re-populate healthy livestock and beasts of burden. His latest
success was the cloning of a rare ox. He has absolutely no time for absurdities
like cloning a human. As to commerce, everything in medicine is commercialized.
Another doctor has nearly perfected a cellular procedure. In this procedure,
human DNA is treated in such a way that it reverts to an embryonic state--
thus resulting in a small bundle of the donors own "stem"
cells. This is called "dedifferentiation". Usually a female
ovum is required for embryonic cells to be grown; dedifferentiation requires
only the DNA donor. The process could save thousands who die before receiving
much-needed organ transplants. The process reduces the threat to female
egg donors and bible-thumpers alike. Or does it? One can understand the
Christian view that all cloning research is a "sin". The very
idea brings into question the concept of the human soul. If I am cloned
successfully, my clone will grow to be a duplicate of me. But will he
have a soul? If he does, will it be "my" soul, a "false"
soul, a "real" soul? What, then, does this imply about the soul?
This type of absurdity has left the Christian right chasing its own tail.
President Bush has declared any and all forms of clone research anathema,
and would like to make it all illegal. Luckily he cannot.
The Jewish religion can teach us a thing or two about clear-headedness.
Understanding that the research is medically marvelous, the State of Israel
(admittedly, a religious state) studied the religious aspect of cloning.
Their decision was that to try to clone a human is wrong, so they have
outlawed it-- after all, it seems an attempt to take Gods place,
"manufacturing" a human. Still, they know it is an event as
unlikely as someone making a golem. Anything else, however, is permissible
and legal in Israel, because Scripture and Jewish commentary state that
an embryo is not a "person", not "human". (It is clear
that few Christians in America are very knowledgeable about the Judaic
God, yet all we hear is prattle about "Judaeo-Christian" values.)
A large part of the difficulty is that were hypnotized by the idea
of the total cloning of a person. The research is not for the ultimate
goal to perfectly duplicate anyone. It is research that may very well
present an injectable cure for all diseases. It is not directed toward
manipulating every detail of an unborn baby, though it may very well provide
lab-grown organs that function perfectly. Certainly it offers the infertile
a chance to have their very own children. It may make the human race better
and stronger, without any ridiculous speculations about creating a "super-race".
We do not have to debate the asinine topic of "designer" babies.
Too many people trembled when they saw the film "The Boys From Brazil",
and that is the extent of their knowledge of cloning research. The actual
research is on the brink of carrying us into a marvelous new age.
That term, "New Age"-- its synonymous with "Satan"
among right-wing Christians. Usually it is used to indicate the dawning
of a tremendous advancement of some kind, and the bible-thumpers have
always been against any such thing. If they had their way, we would still
be reading by candlelight. They have even demonized the term: many Christian
right-wing publications darkly hint at the coming "New Age"
in their titles. A big part of the "New Age", in their minds,
is cloning. Few of them comprehend cloning research, but to them it clearly
leads to 666, the mark of the beast. What better to feed poverty-stricken
imaginations, than the vision of an assembly line of stamped, numbered
Cloning research may one day eliminate all diseases and injuries-- what
is to be feared? Cloning will allow childless parents to have their own
offspring. What greater gift is there? The argument is ultimately about
one thing: power. Right-wing Christian views are spearheaded by ignorance,
urban myths, non-facts and superstitious speculation. Keep the population
ignorant and you can keep it in line. Any progress not based on Christian
ideals must be brought to heel, because it robs the manipulators of their
power. Clone research is about only one type of power: the power to heal.
When cloning is the topic, we dont want to know about dubious biblical
passages that "condemn" it. We dont want to hear the latest
Christian take on science: a furious U.S. representative recently shouted
from the floor of the House, "We are NOT a theocracy!!"
We want to know whats going on in the lab, what progress is being
made. Cloning and embryonic cell research is very vague to us, because
the right wing will not keep quiet long enough to let anyone learn anything.
How can we make decisions about how we feel, when we dont even know
what were considering? Well, thats just the way the Christian
right wants it.
© Rev Antonio Hernandez IBA July 2002
email: "Antonio. Hernandez"
Nation under Scrutiny
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Reverend Antonio Hernández
on STAR WARS
we are treated to a cartoon Yoda, hopping about like an angel-dusted Kermit
Antonio Hernández IBA
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