As many of you know, I enjoy science fiction. Lately, I have come across two scifi stories (one on TV and one in the movies. If you plan to watch either Orphan Black or Moon anytime soon, you might want to skip this entry because I do give away plot points). But I hope to get beyond the fiction too and talk about moral and ethical questions for us all.
The great value of both stories is that they push us to think about empathy. We like Sam Bell playing Sam Rockwell in Moon (a solo lunar miner waiting for his contract to be completed so he can go back to Earth). Tatiana Maslany playing Sarah in Orphan Black is a little less lovable at first (she scams people, has lost custody of her daughter, and maintains some questionable friendships) but as the story develops you realize what a difficult life she has had and her wit and her determination to make a better life win you over.
But what pushes the envelope in both story lines is when you find out there are other Sams and other Sarahs. In the case of Sam, Sam2 is exactly like Sam1 other than the fact that he is out of cycle with Sam1 (the lunar base simply clones the exact same miner each time it needs one). In the case of Sarah though, her clones (or is she a clone?) look like her but have lived very different lives. If you root for Sarah, do you root for Beth, or Alison, or “the German”, or Cosimo too? What about the “killer clone”? In Moon, is Sam2 really trying to help Sam? Should we like Sam2 as much as we like Sam? As a viewer, how far will our empathy for the main characters stretch?
I find this to be an excellent question because all it takes it to take one step further and ask ourselves, “Does the exact same DNA matter when it comes to caring for fellow human beings like us?” DNA or even being of the same family or culture didn’t make Jesus exclude people. So for Christians today, if we grew up in Russia (in a former communist country), in Iran (in a Shiite Muslim culture), or in North Korea (with all their political indoctrination) – how much would we be like we are in the here and now? How much of “us” is made by nature and how much by nurture? Can we be empathetic with them?
And while traveling the galaxy in a space ship is probably something that will remain in the realm of science fiction for 99.9% of us for the rest of our lives, technologically, we are not too far away from being able to clone people. What are the ethical ramifications of that? Is it ok to clone a kidney but not a whole person? When someone does clone a whole person (someone will someday no matter what laws we pass), is the clone as fully human as you or me? How do we prevent clones being made as replacement parts repositories for original people? Would God love a clone as much as the original? Would a clone have a soul? If we do clone people, will clones be in heaven?
God has given us great minds and power in this creation. How will we exercise it? How can we encourage and develop empathy in ourselves and in one another?
Technologically we are progressing so fast. Will we ethically and morally keep up the same pace?
What do you think?
(Probably a record number of questions in a single blog entry!)
Until next time,