January 17, 2007

Will Human Clones Have Souls?

Esquire asks the question, "would a cloned human being have a soul?", as part of its "Answer Fella" series, which I mention as though I've ever heard of it, which I haven't. The question comes right before another about what it means to call "the badlands" badlands, and in both cases the correct answer is, "shut up."

But ever-patient, our Dr. Caplan - who will be celebrated tomorrow at Benjamin Franklin's 301st Birthday Party as recipient of the Franklin Founder Award - offers the answer Ben would have given, though Ben wouldn't have allowed a column as dumb as Answer Fella to exist in the first place.

It's kinda funny though:

Would a cloned human being have a soul?
It wasn't widely reported, but when Dolly the sheep—the first mammal cloned from an adult cell—died in 2003, she was listening to Barry White's 1974 smash album Can't Get Enough and pregnant by a Bolivian alpaca doing a long stretch at Edinburgh's Royal Zoo for running cocaine. Sure, the vets gave her the lethal injection, but the real cause of death was a broken heart. Now if a freaking cloned sheep had such a vast spirit, you can bet that a cloned human would be imbued with the same immaterial presence that binds us all, even Antonin Scalia, to the Godhead. But don't just take AF's word for it. C. Ben Mitchell, director of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, says, "The answer is in the question itself. A cloned human being would in fact be a person and would therefore be ensouled. To be human is to be a person is to be a soul." This is neither an argument in favor of human cloning nor the final answer to various theological questions about the existence or nature of a human soul, topics best left to mouthbreathing Pentecostals, infallible men in funny hats, and Mitch Albom. It is simply to say, as Arthur Caplan, chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania does, "If humans have souls, then clones will have them, too."
The end.

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