Human Cloning and the Soul

~ from email ~

We are considering the matter of human cloning and the soul. Assuming that the procedure is truly successful, the human clone would possess a soul; otherwise, we cannot say that it is indeed successful. In systematic theology, and under the doctrine of man, “creationism” holds that God creates each new soul probably at the time of conception and associates it with the new body, and “traducianism” holds that both the soul and body are inherited from the parents.

Creationism is the biblical view, but for our purpose, there is no need to discuss which one is correct. Either position would allow a successfully cloned human person to have a soul. Given creationism, it would mean that God creates a new soul each time a person is successfully cloned. Given traducianism, it would mean that there is little technical difference between what happens in cloning and what happens in natural conception, since the soul would be propagated from the original to the clone. The clone would have a different soul, with characteristics inherited from the original.

Whether something works has little to do with whether it is ethical. To illustrate, only God has the right and power to end a life. Still, murder “works” – the murderer could indeed kill his victim. This means that God has foreordained the event and he ends the victim’s life when the crime occurs. But God’s precepts teach us that it is unethical to commit murder.

As with many things (murder, rape, the crucifixion of Christ, etc.), what God has decreed to happen is often different from what God has defined as ethical. What is made according to God’s decree might at the same time be made against God’s precept. A child may be conceived because of rape. The rape is against God’s precept – it is sin – but both the rape and the child have come about because of God’s decree, because nothing can happen other than what he decrees and causes to happen.

Therefore, even if cloning “works” in that it results in a human soul, this would not make it ethically acceptable. Since each successfully cloned person would have a soul, this means that God has all along decreed the success of cloning and the existence of the clones. Again, a decree is different from a precept, so that even if God has foreordained the success of cloning, it does not mean that he morally approves of it, but if it is sin, then it would mean that he has ordained that the sin should occur.

Whether we are considering the problem of the soul relative to cloning, or whether we are considering the sovereignty of God relative to something that is against his moral precepts, there is no problem for Christian theology. Successful cloning, even if sinful, poses no rational challenge against the Christian faith. If human cloning is successful, it would not violate anything that the Bible teaches about reality, even if it would violate what the Bible teaches about morality.