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I am sure you have already heard about it, but in case you haven't, cloning is the process of making an exact genetic copy of a person or animal. I've watched with some interest the various debates going on about cloning—Should you clone your dead wife? Your favorite pet? Yourself, so you can harvest organs out of the cloned body?—expecting at any moment that someone would come up with the obvious truth, and so far, much to my disbelief, no one has said it. At least, no one that I saw or heard.

The truth is this: You can make an exact genetic copy of a person or animal. More or less. Allowing for the differences that happen during cell development and the various things in the environment that affect one's genetic structure and physical form, including the immune system. But that is where the similarity ends.

Let's say you choose to clone your beloved cat. It may look like your cat, and even possibly have a similar meow to that of your cat. But that more-or-less exact physical copy of your cat is not the cat you know. Or knew. It may share the same genetic structure, but we are not just slabs of meat walking around. Our identities do not start and end with our physical existence. A clone of anyone or anything will have its own soul, its own purpose, and certainly will belong to itself.

I fully realize that not everyone believes in souls or spirits, though sometimes I wonder at how it is possible to deny such an obvious thing. But for those of us who do know the truth of the matter, to think that somehow a physical vehicle, no matter how close a copy of another, is going to also be the same inside is just a non-issue.

Here's another analogy. Let's say that you have a favorite car that you drive all the time. One day, you see somone driving the identical car. Do you have an identity crisis? Do you think that you have suddenly been duplicated? Do you think that that is you in that other car? Of course not. It is another person driving a different car.

Just so, a spirit inhabiting a body, no matter how similar that body may be to another, is still a separate spirit, and not the same spirit that is in that other body.

Though there is a way for the spirit to be the same. If, for instance, you clone your now-deceased cat, and the spirit of your cat decides to take pity on you and to reincarnate in the body of that cloned cat, then yes, it is your original beloved cat come back to you. (And, in the somewhat limited experience I have of looking in spirit at animals living with people, I have seen that animal spirits do often return to their human companions as another animal, so this is not that far-fetched.)

But that cloned cat is your original cat because your cat's spirit chose to inhabit that body, not because somehow that body and that genetic structure caused an identical configuration of your cat. And even then, just as with humans, each life is unique. The spirit is the same, but the expression will be different.

That should make it clear what the answers to the earlier questions are. If you clone your dead wife, don't expect the new person to be your original wife. (Even if it were your wife reincarnating, she will still be a new and different person.) If you clone your animal companion, ditto. If you clone yourself, that new person does not belong to you in any way. You share with it a similar physical relationship as a parent does with a child: You contributed genetic material to help that spirit create for itself a body. But you do not own that person anymore than a parent owns a child.

Any questions?

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