The origin of man: biological or spiritual?

The recent appearance of Dolly, the clone of an adult sheep created by a Scottish embryologist, has sparked debates on scientific, religious, and political fronts. Discussions have often centered on the moral and ethical possibilities and pitfalls that exist when scientists are able to create exact genetic copies of large mammals—perhaps including humans. The questions appear to be endless.

What does all this say about life, about the identity of man? Are we truly nothing more than a genetic cocktail—a mix of microscopic particles pooled together and activated by an electrical spark? Is science "on the brink of an unprecedented explosion in its ability to understand and manipulate life," as was stated in the March 10 issue of Business Week? Are such scientific discoveries helpful to mankind? Are they harmful? Or should we perhaps hold off making such a determination, waiting to see how all this plays out in the long run?

Such questioning didn't originate with the birth of Dolly. Not many years ago, a technique called in vitro fertilization, producing "test-tube babies," caused a similar stir in public discourse. In the nineteenth century, Darwin's theory of evolution rocked foundational scientific and religious views regarding the origin of mankind, calling into question a literal interpretation of the Scriptural account of creation.

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"When I consider ..."*
May 19, 1997

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