Creeped Out By Cloning? It's the Deep-Level Irreverence Factor

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET

So nice that the FDA now says it finds no real difference between (or should we say "among") the meat and milk of cows, pigs, and goats that are bred naturally (sheep have been mysteriously excluded for now: what do they know and when did they know it?) and the meat and milk of creatures that have been cloned.

Can I say that I will sleep better tonight or that I will insist on eggs over easy and bacon lightly cloned the next time I chow down my big breakfast at the local café? Hmmm. Doubtful.

Because everyone is waking up to the non-neutrality (OK, let's just say the outright WHOREDOM) of U.S. government-sponsored research studies in a time of maximum state subservience to corporate power, the FDA's alleged good news about cloned animal protein will impress few on these shores and impress absolutely no one abroad. Why would anyone trust an FDA report in Year Eight of the Bush Protectorate?

But I am more interested in the deeper sources of resistance to engineered foods of all kinds.

Even here, and even in Iowa and Wisconsin and Nebraska, people are having trouble with this shit. And not just upper middle class people who can be ever so finicky about what goes down the old alimentary canal. I'm talking about meat-and-potatoes people who, up until around now, have been reasonably content with the engineering of pest-free varieties of crops and also with fruit and veggies that ripen sooner, look tastier, and ship better on account of their genetic tweaking.

In animal cloning line has been crossed. I want to say from a theological perspective that the line has to do with (here goes) our human creatureliness.

Whatever one wants to say about Genesis creation accounts--and who imagined that people would still be duking it out over these texts in the 21st century?--what stands out most strikingly in Genesis is not the few-and-far-between allusions to alleged human supremacy but rather the repeated insistence on human embeddedness within the whole of the created order.

You can read it yourself. The deal in Genesis is not that God had come upon a whole different idea when humans came along. It's much more that God thought a little more mindfulness in one species--a tweener species, so to speak--could be a good idea. A species capable of stitching the thing together and of passing blessings up and down the range of a vast and splendid sensorium.

So here's my theory. We're creeped out even now by the notion of cloning our meat and milk because we can see and feel the teleological arrogance--and the deep-level irreverence--of doing that. We know that we don't know what we are doing with our commercialized cloning: we know that we are operating way above our creaturely pay grade and that the consequences of this particular lab work could be very heavy indeed.

More than that, and despite our huge bloody hunters' mark in the world, we know that it's just plain cruel and unethical to manipulate other species for our short-term advantage to the extent of FDA-approved commercial animal cloning.

We're moral animals.

God be praised.