Would a Cloned Human Have a Soul?
The implications of a proposed ban on human cloning go from the political to the theological.
Before Dolly the sheep, human cloning was the stuff of science fiction, and we debated how we'd treat walking, talking reproductions of ourselves. Would clones be like us, or would they form a separate class of humans? What were the hidden dangers?
The stem cell controversy has changed how we think about cloning. As the House of Representatives passed a bill banning cloning this week, the debate focused not on the ethics of creating genetically identical people but on the prospect of cloning a few cells to help cure the ill and dying.
But the larger questions haven't gone away, and Beliefnet's discussion boards have been quick to take them up. Earlier this year,
posed the question: "
Would a cloned human have a soul
"A clone is simply someone with the same genetic information as oneself. Twins are clones who occur naturally, rather than artificially, but I haven't heard anyone suggest that one or the other twin doesn't have a soul."
"Does this mean we create the souls as part of cloning?"
"If clones don't have souls, neither can they go to Hell or Heaven."
"Before we can know if clones would have souls we must first ask what a soul is? Where does it reside? Is it in the body or outside? Is it tangible? ... If we do have souls, when was it put in? At birth? When we were just a zygote? At conception?"
"This sounds like a plot to justify discriminating and deny human rights to the clones who are produced. God deals with the matters of the Soul. It is not our place to dole out who gets one and who doesn't."
"Our souls are not defined by our DNA--otherwise identical twins would share one soul, right? DNA is the blueprint for a body, in which our soul may be said to reside. Building a duplicate of your neighbor's house does not replicate the family inside."
"At the end of the third month after the cells begin to divide (the end of the first trimester), God breathes the soul into the child, cloned or otherwise."