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"genetic engineering" and religion

From: sampath kumar (sampathkumar_2000_at_yahoo.com)
Date: Sun Feb 06 2000 - 01:28:03 PST

Dear friends,

Over the weekend adiyen and a few friendly neighours
were casually discussing vast advances that are
presently being made in the science of genetics. 

Ever since 1997 when scientists in UK first created
"Dolly", the clone of a cow, further strides have been
made in the capability of genetically turning out even
human babies! People are saying that today there is
enough knowledge and competence to enable scientists
to clone a full-fledged human being. All that holds
the genetic scientist back are ethical considerations
and legal hurdles. Once these hurdles are overcome
genetic manufacturing of human beings is likely in the
first decade of the new millenium itself.

In the course of the discussion the following
questions also figured which adiyen is, out of a sense
of curiosity and academic interest, putting out on the
bhakti-list to elicit comments and views of members:

(1) What is stand of the Vedic religion to human
cloning? Is the clone also a "baddha-jeeva"?

(2) Will present day religious leaders like
Sankaracharya, Azhagiyasingar and others support human
cloning or condemn it? Why and on what theological
grounds? (The Christian Church has come out against
human cloning, by the way. But then the Church was
also against the heliocentric view of the universe
when Copernicus first came out with that theory!) 

(3) A human clone represents an exact biological
replica of the original. Is it a "spiritual-replica"
too? Does it have the "same" atomic soul ("aatmA")
too? Or is the clone to be treated as insentient... a
"jada"?

(4) If the human soul can be said to be 'cloned' then
isn't such cloning a bit like "srushti" or creation
itself? Has Man finally become God?

(5) If the original soul (aatmA) has a load of "karma"
upon it, then, does the soul of the cloned human also
have similar "karma"? Or does the clone start its
"kArmic" journey afresh from the first moment of its
cloned creation and existence?

(6) Do the "punya" and "pApa"... sin and good deed...
of the original human attach to the clone? And vice
versa? Are the cloned and the clone mutually
responsible for each other's actions in a moral sense?

(7) If the original human attains 'liberation' or
'mOksha' will the clone also similarly attain it? If
not why not?
 
These are all questions which may sound
"hypothetical", "far-fetched" or even whimsical. But
let it be known that profound changes are taking place
in the world of genetic science which are sooner than
later bound to have enormous impact on our age-old
notions and concepts of religion and morality.

Religion must wake up to these new realities and begin
to formulate its own responses to such difficult
questions of faith and moral conundrums.

Any views, thoughts or comments?

dAsan,
Sampathkumaran
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