The Stigma of Bioethics

By Allison Johnson
Blog Content Contributor

My freshman year of high school, I was introduced to the topic of bioethics. We were covering a unit that talked about Dolly the sheep. For those who are not familiar, Dolly is the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell successfully. If you’re not a biology expert like me, you might want to hear how they did it in layman’s terms. Time has a great easy-to-read article of how the researchers accomplished it. After reading it, you can conclude that Dolly the sheep wasn’t born the typical way.

I went to high school in a small town in eastern Texas, so when our teacher brought up this topic students were not happy. They insisted that creating animals like this was “playing God”, and it is not in our hands to create life, unless it’s the natural way. What they meant was that mammals needed to be created through the process of a female conceiving a baby by a male through breeding. I’m sure there are some positive outcomes to cloning animals, but where the topic really got heated was when our teacher asked us how would we feel if they tried this with humans.

In late April, an article circulated through social media causing an uproar. The headline was enough to get my Facebook friends and family fired up. Again, the slogan “Stop playing God” was the most prominent comment amongst each share the article got. If you’re like me, you like to read people argue in Facebook comments because it can be quite hilarious. In public posts, many people that weren’t religious were telling Christians they weren’t making an argument. Even though I also don’t like the idea of human cloning, I agree. They weren’t making an argument. I decided to do more research and get input from my former philosophy professor to help myself and others support our stance better.

On May 5, I sat down with Dr. Dean Geuras. Last spring, I went into his class thinking it would be an easy core class. I was wrong. He made it clear the first day that the class was reading and writing intensive. I have so much respect for this professor. He required participation from every single student and for us to keep a journal of our thoughts during class. He gave us the tools to use great reasoning for our arguments and many concepts. When we come to college, our beliefs should be challenged– it helps our minds grow. I highly recommend to take him if you need a philosophy credit, or if you want to speak to a highly intelligent person about philosophy.

During our discussion, I told him many of us Christians are just not for human cloning, I even admitted I needed more reasoning behind my belief, because I could be close minded to the idea. One of the first things he mentioned is that a Christian’s biggest belief or assumption is that God created all of reality. Second belief is that human beings are special creatures to God. Third belief is that human beings have an element of freedom that we can use for good or bad.

Because human life is so important, taking its creation upon ourselves with engineering or nonbiological means could be dangerous. Now think of a copy machine. Yes, it’s just copying original work, but sometimes the machine doesn’t always work right. We could mess it up. But if we do this to humans, it’s not just a piece of paper you are ruining that you can just throw away or recycle. When he mentioned experiments going wrong, I thought about season two of “American Horror Story”. A German doctor named Dr. Arden was performing inhumane experiments on patients at a mental hospital. His experiments were unsuccessful and he ruined precious human lives. The character was based off Josef Mengele and his inhumane experiments on Jews and disabled people in concentration camps during WWII. Trial and error has its consequences, and we are responsible for them.

A rebuttal of nonbiological human creation could be that some humans are already born with disabilities, and that nonbiological creation could create humans without them. Dr. Geuras said this is when utopian socialism comes into play. It may sound like a good idea to create ideal humans, but what exactly is the ideal human? I’m sure almost everyone has a different opinion of what the perfect human is. From looks, personality, race, religion, socioeconomic status, political party, we all have different preferences. These societies never work out and can be dangerous. You might be thinking about favorite dystopian/utopian society book or movie right now. They usually don’t have nice outcomes, correct?

Featuredpicbyallisonjohnson
If you need a Philosophy credit, I highly recommend Dr. Dean Geuras. Photo by Allison Johnson.

Dr. Geuras said one of his professors once told him “We wouldn’t be creating life, we’re just copying what nature already does. But from a religious stand point, we’re copying what God does.” This statement stood out to me the most during our conversation. From just a scientific standpoint it does come across as just innovation and emulating what already exists, but once you add religion it is copying our creator.

Humans are created in the image of God. If a human is created by another human, will it have the dignity or conscious of a human created by God himself? Where will the nonbiological human or clone learn its values from? Human beings have a right to human dignity, which in philosophical terms can be the ability of humans to choose their own actions. In religious terms, this is also known as free will. As Christians, we believe God is in control of all things, although there is an equal balance of control between God’s overall control and our free will obviously. Now, if a human manipulated human creation, would their creator give them free will? Sounds like artificial humans could be robots. Remember I, Robot? Scary.

Another thing I think about is if it will have a soul. A soul is an important thing in Christianity. Eventually our lives end on Earth, but our souls have an everlasting life in either heaven or hell–that is, if you believe. As a Christian, this is important to me, but to someone else that isn’t religious, it might not matter to them. I believe a soul is necessary for a relationship with God, or any kind of higher power you may believe in.

Writing this article and having a discussion with Dr. Geuras has challenged more than just my belief on human creation, but also with human destruction. Dr. Geuras mentioned there are risky human experiments does all the time. This is true, but these people volunteer to do this. For example, you could make a lot of money if you let doctors test medicine on you. You know when you see a commercial for some medicine and they list 10 side effects including death? Yeah, it’s because those were the outcomes during the trial. Since those are voluntary, it made me think about euthanasia. If you can volunteer to have drugs tested on you that can kill you why can’t euthanasia be legal everywhere? Just the topic of human cloning has challenged my beliefs on human creation and human destruction.

After looking more into bioethics your views might change on nonbiological human engineering, abortion, and so much more. Our beliefs should be challenged by people who are intelligent in a subject. It sounds cliché that we should expect that in college, but it’s so true. In philosophy, we talked about how the purpose of an argument is to find the best solution. I hope you do more research on your own, and I recommend reading Immanuel Kant and Plato, and Michael J. Sandel for some philosophical background.

Featured image via Youtube.com.

Asia Daggs

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