Many friends of ICR have asked us about the recent claims that a human has been cloned by a French group called Clon-aide. Unfortunately, as of this writing, while the claims, press releases, and television interviews have been abundant, real information has been scarce. Thus, we're not in a position to be definitive. We can, however, offer some thoughts and opinions from a "Back to Genesis" point of view.
Regarding Clonaide's claims, please know that they have resisted requests to verify their recent "success." Cloning labs worldwide are perfecting techniques to clone mammals; some are probably experimenting on humans, but none of them are aware that Clonaide runs such a lab.
Clonaide, according to its website, is really a "religious organization, which claims that a human extraterrestrial race, called the Elohim, used DNA and genetic engineering, to scientifically create all life on Earth . . . [and that] Jesus was resurrected using an advanced cloning technique." The cult was founded by the self-avowed atheist Raël, who claims that "Cloning will enable mankind to reach eternal life." They predict several additional cloning successes in the coming months, but many observers consider the entire affair to be a fabricated publicity stunt for the cult.
Human cloning involves, briefly, the harvesting of a woman's unfertilized egg cell, and removing its nucleus, which contains half the necessary chromosomes for life. Next, the nucleus from a donor's cell is removed (male or female, adult or child) containing a complete chromosome set, and inserted into the now empty egg cell, which is then implanted into the womb of a host. The chromosomes/DNA are then stimulated to oversee growth of the egg into an embryo, fetus and baby. The DNA simply does what DNA is designed to do. Thus the child produced is the exact clone of the donor. It is hardly related to the egg donor and not at all to the woman whose womb was used.
Whether or not this claim holds up to scrutiny, human cloning is not far off. Countries of the world need to regulate this industry because it potentially opens a Pandora's Box of unthinkable horror. At the very least, it involves creation of more fertilized embryos than are allowed to continue, and in mammals the offspring born usually have severe mental or physical deficiencies. How can this be allowed for humans? From a creationist perspective, we must recognize that these efforts are seeking to manipulate the Image of God, perhaps "playing God" themselves. All similar efforts such as human breeding experiments, eugenics, euthanasia, abortion, and infanticide fall into the same category.
To me the most interesting aspect of this story is the non-stop media coverage. Think about it. No evidence was presented. No laboratory exists. The persons involved have no standing in the cloning community. This may not be a hoax, but where is the investigative journalism? When stories don't check out, reporters are not supposed to continue providing free publicity to a hoaxster.
Given that the Raëlian Cult is overtly anti-Christian, strongly evolutionist (in a weird sort of way), and aggressively licentious, might we not conclude that the extreme press coverage implies an approval of such a position? Similar treatment often occurs in articles with evolutionary themes. Maybe weird stories increase TV ratings and newspaper sales, but many projects and discoveries are legitimately newsworthy, yet totally ignored. Could bias be involved?
* Dr. Morris is President of ICR.