Religion and Cloning Ethics

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Omai's picture
Religion and Cloning Ethics

There is an interesting dichotomy between eastern and western religions and views on cloning or embryonic stem cell research. This difference is highlighted in this article in the New York Times. The basics of the article say that traditionally Buddhist countries (found mostly in Asia) do not have the same kind of moral objections to human cloning or stem cell research as traditional Judeo-Christian countries (the US and Europe). This amounts to more than just a philosophical conversation on the existence of an individual human soul. Its is also driving science. Geneticists and biomedical researchers from the West are moving East to take advantage of the freedom from government intervention (based on religious rhetoric) in the scientific process.
I thought this article brought to light a very interesting way of shaping the conversation about ethics, religion, and science from a East vs West perspective. The traditional movement of modern scientists was from the East to the West to take advantage of larger research institutions and more money. Now the trend may move back the other way for increased scientific freedom.
I'm very intrigued to hear what other people think. Read the article and let me know.

hilltrekker's picture
its indeed an interesting and

its indeed an interesting and controversial topic too. Although not named as cloning but there have been incidences in religious granths that indicate that it had place in either in reality or in minds of ancient people too. e.g. In Ramayana, Kush seems to be a clone of Luv (Mother Sita's son).

Ivan Delgado
Ivan Delgado's picture

Hi Omai,
Thanks for the article. While I was aware of the disparity between stem cell research funding between the East and the West, this article does a great job of including specific examples of which countries have banned similar kinds of research. For example it is surprising to me that Brazil banned embryo cloning, yet they use a ton of transgenic plants in their agriculture (as does Argentina). 
Even in the US, where federal funds are not allowed for stem cell research, you have states like California who not only support stem cell research but also finance it. In other words, while it is fair that the US fits the article's label of being anti-embryo research because of its pro-Christian roots, it is also telling that one of the major biotechnology centers of the world, California, happens to be in the US. 
I was also surprised to learn that the House of Representatives managed to pass a bill banning Americans from going overseas for stem-cell treatments (thank God for the Senate that killed such bill). To imagine that the US would have passed such a law is almost as ridiculous as the current law against Cuba: maybe at some point it made sense, but it is clear that such a time is past.
As for where the research is going, I do not think it is going East because of religion. It is going East because that is where the money is. Had the US not destroyed its economy, and stopped thinking scientifically, the last 8 years, we would not be talking about a scientific exodus towards the East. My guess is that once we turn the economy around the bleeding will stop. In the mean time the gab between the East and the West will shrink, something that I personally think can only be good for the World as a whole (even if it is because of religion or not).