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Summer 2004 | Volume 26, Number 7 | Features
Embryo Ethics

The world cringed in 2002 when an obscure religious group, the Raelians, claimed to have cloned the first human baby. Though it later proved to be a publicity stunt, the story preyed on our fears and launched yet more ferocious debates over the science of cloning.



But the issues are much more complex than do we or don’t we endorse human cloning. Reproductive cloning is one thing, but what about “therapeutic cloning”? And what about the use of stem cells required for therapeutic cloning? Stem cell research is itself a hotly debated subject that has eroded political ties, spawned international disagreements and even divided the church.

On one hand, public figures such as Christopher Reeve, Nancy Reagan and Michael J. Fox argue that stem cell research could lead to cures for disease and debilitating physical conditions. “Never before has there been such a powerful tool, such a resource that can give so much hope,” Reeve said in a CNN interview.


"What Are Stem Cells?” Find out here.  


The opposing side, including the Bush administration, offers arguments that are just as emotionally charged. White House spokesman Scott McClellan told the press in June, “The president doesn’t believe we should be creating life for the sole purpose of destroying life.”

How can Christians evaluate the issues of cloning and stem cell research? “We should found our ethics on reason and understanding, not hysteria,” argues Ted Peters, author of such books as Science, Theology, and Ethics and Playing God? Genetic Determinism and Human Freedom. Peters lectured at Seattle Pacific University last spring as part of the Science and Religion Dialogue Series spearheaded by SPU Professor of Wesleyan Theology Randy Maddox.

Peters’ lecture — with his provocative analysis of cloning and stem cell research — has been adapted for publication in this issue of Response. Responding to his arguments are Maddox and Associate Professor of Biology Cynthia Fitch. “I don’t have the answers,” Peters admits, “but I hope my ideas will help to generate conversation among Christians, and between Christians and the broader culture.”


Is Our DNA Sacred?
  Clarifying Christian Concerns

Science and Beneficence




Join the discussion on therapeutic cloning and stem cell research on Response 's Online Bulletin Board by clicking here.


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