This was posted on one of my discussion forums. They poster claims the classic church is against the cloning of humans, but not the cloning of animals. So they wonder what the stance of the Catholic Church will be on the latest rumors of upcoming cloning of Neanderthal DNA. The point in question – are Neanderthals a separate species that died out or close enough in DNA to count as “human”?
Hot on the heels of cloning the wolly mammoth there has been some murmurs around about the DNA samples that have been recovered from neanderthals. This raises some ethical concerns right off the bat. The Catholic church has already come out and said that they oppose human cloning. But there’s an issue with that. Some scientists classify neanderthal as a seperate species that died out. Other scientists say that neanderthal disappeared as our genomes merged. So is neanderthal human? Is it so close to being human that it counts as human? The Church does not oppose cloning of primates. Where does the line lie? Is it in conciousness? We don’t know that neanderthal has conciousness.
But let’s suppose for a moment that we actually DO clone a neanderthal. That will raise significant ethical concerns. No matter what, the clone will be all alone in the entire world with no family. One of a kind. Depending on the intelligence of it, this could be emotionally devastating.
And speaking of intelligence, this is another ethical problem. If it is as intelligent as a human, is it afforded human rights? (Imagine being in school and being teased as “ape boy”.) If it is as intelligent as an ape, do we treat it like an animal? And worse, if it not smart enough to be human, but sentient enough to be not considered an animal, how do we treat it? We can’t throw it in a zoo and experiment on it. We can’t put it in school like a human child. Do we throw it in a mental institution? Human experimentation is ethical as long as we have a consenting person of authority (such as the person themselves or a family member.) Who would be the legal guardian of such a creature if it were unable to make its own call? Along the lines of medical issues, how do we know that this creature will be able to cope with modern diseases?
I’m curious what the readers here think about this subject.