Cloning and spiritual identity

THOUGH the initial furor over Dolly, the cloned sheep, has subsided, her existence continues to raise a few ethical eyebrows. As she grazes on Scottish grass, unaware of the implications her appearance has generated, we need to be moving beyond Dolly to a deeper exploration of the nature of identity and individuality. Are we organic structures defined by an ever-so-intricate DNA pattern? Or are we the creation of God the Supreme Being, and so individual in every way?

Readers of this magazine would expect the focus to be on the second question, but the answer cannot be glib. Proponents of cloning and genetic engineering make strong cases for improving the species by eliminating "faulty" or "disease-bearing" genes. Those who object to this approach—and not just to its sinister side—must supply good reasons for choosing a different way.

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July 28, 1997

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