Chapter I -- 2
To return to the more general discussion of the concept of ‘soul’, the first question that ‘soul’ seeks to answer is ‘What is being alive?’ If you give an account of ‘soul’, you are giving an account of being alive.
It will be very important to bear this in mind.
Now, as we have seen, especially in the quotations we gave earlier from Watson and his fellow biologists, in the materialistic and mechanistic biological paradigm, ‘being alive’ is a matter of the state of the biochemical systems of an organism: whether they are functioning, and, if so, which ones are to be considered critical and functioning and which ones non-critical. ‘Functioning’ here clearly means ‘operating chemically in the way that such systems operate in healthy living specimens of the same type as the organism in question’. An organism, say a human embryo, which were frozen but which could be thawed with a good possibility that its biochemical systems would again begin normal operation would, of course, be considered alive.
Note that as yet the question of ‘person’—that other aspect of the concept of soul, the aspect that we have steadfastly been ignoring in the present discussion—has not yet been introduced. We are completely at the most basic level of being alive or not.
Now, since St Macrina will later answer the materialistic and mechanistic interpretation of life, especially of human life, let us continue with the next stage of the dialogue.
St Gregory is speaking:
I, then (for not even yet had I recovered my thought from the passion), was replying somewhat the more rashly, not thinking over very carefully what I was saying. For I said that the divine words resembled orders, by means of which we are obliged that it is necessary to be persuaded that the soul remains forever. For we were not led by some reasoning to such a dogma, but our mind (nous) within us seems to accept by fear that which is commanded, and not to assent by some voluntary impulse to those things which are said. Whence also the sorrows over the departed become heavier, since we do not know exactly whether this vivifying principle still exists in itself, and where and how, or whether it is nowhere and in no way at all. For the uncertainty concerning the truly existent makes equal the opinions on each side; and, on the one hand, this thing seems true to many; on the other hand, the opposite thing seems true to many. For there are certainly some among the Greeks having no small reputation for philosophy who thought about and declared these things.
These are very much the words of Western man today: ‘A religious orthodoxy has taught us, without reason, that there is an eternal soul and commanded us to believe in it. But no one knows anything for certain, and many people have many different ideas on the subject. It’s all opinions! Rubbish!’
St Macrina replies:
Leave off, she said, this silly talk from without, in which the inventor of the lie, for the sake of damage to the truth, plausibly concocts opinions which are deceived. You, then, look at this, that to believe in this way concerning the soul is nothing else than to be estranged from virtue and to look towards the present pleasure alone, and to be made to be despaired of, then, that life which is seen in the Ages [of eternity], according to which life only virtue has the advantage.
This is the state of the West today.
Let us look carefully at this.
St Macrina replies as an Orthodox Christian of her day. ‘Away with this nonsense!’ she says. She qualifies it as ‘from without’. The underlying Greek word is consistently used by the Fathers to refer to pagan learning. Not that they were unfamiliar with it. The Cappadocian Fathers were well educated, and St Macrina is presented as teaching one of them, her younger brother, Gregory. A literary device? No. St Macrina knew pagan literature at least as well as her two brothers, St Gregory and St Basil the Great.
St Macrina says that these are opinions—she is referring notably to the teaching that the soul does not survive death—which are deceived, plausibly concocted by the father of the lie, the Devil, for the sake of damage to the truth. Of course, a materialist-mechanist today would scoff at this naïveté. Be that as it may, let us turn to the more important part of St Macrina’s reply.
St Macrina says to her Christian brother ‘Beware, this line of reasoning will estrange you from virtue.’
This is the first time that virtue has entered the picture.
What is virtue? Normally, today, it is considered to be a body of rules, primarily sexual, which prescribe the proper behaviour for a man and woman of marriageable age considering marriage to each other. However, we shall see a far more profound meaning for this term.
St Macrina says ‘This line of reasoning both estranges you from virtue’—here taken in a far deeper meaning than we have just described—‘and teaches you to look towards the present pleasure alone.’
St Paul says the same thing: ‘If at Ephesus I fought after a human fashion with the beasts, what is the profit to me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’
St Macrina continues: ‘This line of reasoning also makes to be despaired of that life which is seen in eternity, according to which life only virtue has the advantage.’ This ‘according to which life only virtue has the advantage’ has this meaning: in eternal life, the only thing that will help you is the virtue that you have acquired in this life. It does not have the sense that eternal life is a gimmick to get you to be good in this life—to behave according to a certain set of moral rules that are unpleasant and tedious. As we said, virtue has a far deeper meaning. The sense is that that deeper virtue is a quest for eternal life, an actualization of eternal life while we are still in this flesh, a preparation for eternal life—all the while without negating those Christian rules of a proper moral behaviour while we are still in this flesh.
The reader can now see why we think that this is the state of the West today: the dominant materialistic and mechanistic paradigm denies the survival of the soul—‘that vivifying principle’—after the death of the person. Having taken that step, the West has done what St Macrina—and the Bible—have cautioned would happen: it has turned, in despair over eternal life, to hedonism. Not that this is an argument for the survival of the soul, whatever it might be, after death—that you will become a hedonist if you do not believe in that survival of the soul—but it is a diagnosis, a sober caution of what will happen if you follow this line of reasoning. In the West today, we need only look round us to see that this is so.
Let us remind ourselves at this point that all we know so far about the soul for the purposes of this dialogue is that it is ‘being alive’.
St Gregory replies:
And how, I said, could the opinion concerning the abiding of the soul become for us very solid and unchangeable? For I myself feel that the life of men will be widowed of the most noble thing in life, virtue I mean, if the faith in us concerning this thing not be made most certain. For how can it be that virtue should have a place with those for whom the present life is considered to be the delimitation of being and nothing more is hoped for after this life?
St Gregory is saying: ‘How can we establish firmly our faith in the survival of the soul, that vivifying principle, after death? I agree that without this belief we shall lose the most noble thing in life, virtue. For how could virtue have a place with those for whom the present life is everything and for whom there is nothing more to be hoped for after this life?’
The sense is quite clear. The only thing we need emphasize is that virtue has a far deeper meaning than we might expect.
St Gregory has brought the dialogue round to this point: to save virtue, how can we establish the survival of that vivifying principle, the soul, after death?
Then the teacher said, therefore it is necessary to seek whence reason might take for us the necessary beginning concerning these things; and, if it seems good, let the defence of the contrary dogmas come from you. For I see that in you the intellect has been moved slightly towards such a downward course. Thus the word of truth will be investigated after the antithesis.
This is clear.
St Gregory now begins right where we are: in the materialistic and mechanistic biochemical paradigm.
Since, then, she commanded this, having entreated her not to suppose that I was speaking against our dogmas in very truth, but so that the dogma concerning the soul be constructed with certainty, those things which fall against this goal having been washed away from below, I said: In some degree of truth, those who defend the contrary argument might say these things: The body, being composite, completely dissolves into those things from which it is constituted. When the natural union from birth of the elements in the body has been loosed, the inclination of each element occurs in all likelihood towards that which is familiar, the very nature of the elements by a certain necessary force rendering the familiar to the congener. For to the hot again the heat in us will be united and to the solid, the earthy, and for each of the other things, the displacement occurs towards that which is related. Therefore, after this, where is the soul? If one should say that it is in the elements, he will necessarily agree that it is the same as those elements. For there would not occur a certain commingling of that which is of a different nature with that which is alien; and if these things should be, then that which has been commingled with the opposite qualities will be manifested plainly and completely as being to an extent complex. That which is complex, then, is not simple; but in all events it is contemplated in composition. Every composite thing, then, is by necessity dissolvable. The dissolution, then, is decay of the thing which is constituted. And, then, surely, that which is decaying is not immortal; otherwise, the flesh would surely also be said to be immortal, that flesh which is being loosed into those things from which it was constituted. If, then, the soul is something of a somewhat different sort, where would reason suppose it to be, it not being found in the elements by virtue of its being of a different nature; and there being nothing at all existing in the world in which the soul, living in it appropriately to its own particular nature, could occur? What, then, is nowhere, neither exists at all.
This very important argument is the materialistic argument against the survival of the soul after death. Although expressed in terms of Classical Aristotelian philosophy, and in a very difficult manner, and with a few aspects which are prior to modern chemistry, it is a very good rendition of the ‘life is biochemistry’ argument of the materialistic biologist such as we have already encountered in the quotations from Molecular Biology of the Gene. Let us therefore analyse this argument very carefully.
The first concept that St Gregory invokes is that of the composite versus the simple. The composite is that which is a union of other things. The simple is that which is not, that which cannot be decomposed.
St Gregory says that the body is composite. In St Gregory’s day, men believed that there were four elements—earth, air, fire and water—and that all material things were composed of these four elements. What he is saying, however, is still true today. Today there are over 100 elements, some of them synthetic. It is these elements, themselves composed of smaller, subatomic particles, and sometimes capable of transmutation from one element to another, which we now know to combine to form the molecules which constitute the body, those molecules which decompose again into smaller molecules or into their constituent elements when the person dies. This is the discipline of chemistry, or biochemistry in the case of the living cell and body; we cannot hope to present a course in chemistry, nor do we intend to. However, no chemist today would deny that the body is composite, being composed of a number of the naturally occurring elements combined in varying ways to form organic molecules.
St Gregory expresses these facts, which we accept in their modern form, in terms of the chemistry of his day, due largely to Aristotle’s systematization of the science of his time. This ancient chemistry was formulated on the principle of the composition and dissolution of the four elements we mentioned above. Although the science of the Ancients comprised only four elements, it also included the essential notion that the chemistry of the body was a matter of varying proportions of these four elements. The only essential difference in the present argument is that the primitive science of St Gregory’s day considered that during the process of the dissolution of the body, the elements by nature tended to return to their like: the fiery to the fiery; the earthy to the earthy; the watery to the watery; the airy to the airy. Nowadays, we know that the chemical transformations involved in the decay of a once-living body are much more complex. However, St Gregory’s reasoning, not making use of the idea that like gravitates to like when a body decomposes, is unaffected by that difference. Neither is it affected by there being, today, over 100 elements, instead of the four that the science of his day posited. St Gregory is not doing chemistry but philosophy. His analysis is valid no matter how many elements there might be, for it depends on the material composite nature of the body, not on the number of elements that constitute that material composite nature.
St Gregory’s argument—which is against the survival after death of the soul—goes like this: When a person dies, the elements that constitute his body gravitate to their like. We would say today that there is a process of chemical change called decay or decomposition—under the influence of microbes certainly, but also naturally—such that the body for the most part disintegrates. Therefore, after this, St Gregory says, where is the soul? If one should say that it is in the elements he will necessarily agree that it is the same as those elements.
This is the first case. The soul, whatever it might be, is in the elements of the body. Here, the reader should understand that ‘soul’ has the meaning ‘vivifying principle’. As we have seen, scientists today who share the opinions of Watson and his fellow authors would dismiss this ‘vivifying principle’ and invoke biochemistry alone. However, that is what St Gregory himself is saying: If we say that the ‘vivifying principle’ is the biochemistry of the body taken in a strictly materialistic sense, then we must admit that that ‘vivifying principle’ is the same as that body’s biochemistry. And, therefore, when the body decomposes, and the molecules constituting the biochemical systems of the body are degraded (decomposed), dispersed or altered, where is ‘that vivifying principle’, the soul? This argument against the survival of the soul, where the soul is taken to be in the material elements of the body, hinges on the disintegration of the body after death.
Let us look more specifically at how the soul, ‘that vivifying principle’, might be in the material elements of the body.
This can have several senses. The first is that the soul is a part of the body. An example might be that the soul of a man is his brain or, more generally, his nervous system. Then the argument against the survival of the soul goes like this: When the man dies, his brain and nervous system disintegrate. Where, then, is his soul, since ‘soul’ is just another name for ‘brain’ or, more generally, ‘nervous system’?
A more sophisticated sense of how the soul might be in the biochemistry of the body is that the soul is the functioning of the body. This, of course, verges on Aristotle. Here again—and this is why St Macrina will come to reject Aristotle’s definition of the soul—the death of the body, and its disintegration, would be tantamount to the destruction of the soul.
If we replace ‘body’ by ‘brain’ or ‘nervous system’, then the third sense is that the soul of a person is the functioning of his brain or nervous system. This is in fact the dominant paradigm in medicine today, especially as concerns the concept of brain death. Note, here, in regard to the concept of brain death, that a measurement of the electrical activity of the brain or of some part of it or, more generally, of the nervous system is not taken as a substitute for a measurement of the presence or absence of a soul, whatever that might be, such as a traditional Christian might intuitively understand the term, but as an actual evaluation of whether the person is alive or dead. That is, in the view of the dominant medical paradigm, the functioning of the nervous system or of the brain or of the higher brain centres is the person, and when that functioning stops—at whatever level the medical criteria state—then so does the person. The basis of this paradigm—which cannot considered to be scientific fact but the professional judgement of men—is precisely what we are discussing: the soul, whatever it might be, is considered to be a part of the body, or else the functioning of a part of the body, and the medical criteria seek to isolate the stage(s) at which one can reasonably and ethically say that since that part of the body is no longer functioning, then one may proceed as if the person had already died, even if some other part of the body, or even some other (lower) part of the brain, should, perhaps with technical assistance, still be functioning.
Some remarks are in order here: First, since, as we have already remarked, ‘soul’ is a concept quite out of intellectual fashion, these discussions of brain death are often phrased in terms of ‘living’, ‘being alive’, ‘person’ or ‘personhood’. Those concepts are what are tied, in most discussions of brain death, to the functioning of a part of the brain. However, these discussions still depend precisely on the identification of the ‘soul’ or ‘life’ or ‘personhood’ of the person with the functioning of a part of his body, in most cases the higher brain centres.
Second, the judgement that ‘being alive’ or ‘being a person’ is a matter of the functioning of the higher brain centres is not scientific fact but based on a professional medical judgement. Certainly, the higher brain centres are involved in ratiocination. However, the concepts of ‘death’ and ‘loss of personhood’ are not scientific facts, the way, say, that the chemical reactions involved in the fermentation of glucose into ethanol in a wine-barrel are scientific facts. The discussion of brain death is of a different order from science although it makes use of scientific facts about the functioning of the brain and nervous system. It is an ethical discussion, not a scientific discussion.
Third, there is a reason behind the introduction of brain death—taken as the cessation of functioning of the higher brain centres although the lower brain centres might, perhaps with technical assistance, still be functioning—as the criterion for the death of the person or of his irrevocable loss of personhood. The reason is that if the person be allowed to complete the natural cycle of dying so that all his brain centres stop functioning, his heart stops beating and his circulation stops, then his organs will be useless for transplant, since they will have begun to rot. This is an ethical discussion with a utilitarian cast: what is involved is a utilitarian judgement that adoption of the criteria provides the greatest good for the greatest number (those receiving the dying person’s organs so that they might continue to live or live better) whereas the person dying is not really harmed, since the damage to his higher brain centres—that part of him identified with his ‘soul’ or ‘life’ or ‘personhood’—is deemed to be irrevocable.
It should be understood that this procedure for the evaluation of life and death through measurements of electrical activity in the brain and, especially, in the higher brain centres, depends conceptually on the materialistic argument that the soul of a person, whatever it might be, the principle of his being alive, the principle of his personhood, is the functioning of a part of that person’s body, here the higher brain centres. This view—which, as we have remarked, is an ethical and not a scientific view, although it does use scientific language—does not depend on traditional human criteria of the presence or absence of the inner person who might inhabit, as it were, that body. The criteria used in brain death are strictly materialistic. They correspond exactly to the argument that St Gregory is putting forward against the survival of the soul after death.
To go on, the most sophisticated sense—apparently, in any case—in which the soul might be in the elements of a person’s body is that the soul of the person is that person’s DNA or, in an even more apparently sophisticated sense, the sequence of the DNA nucleotides that the person had at natural conception—as we might say, the information content of the person’s DNA at natural conception.
We saw this point of view expressed by a theologian in a Greek theological journal. The author stated that the view expressed by St Gregory of Nyssa in On the Making of Man, namely that the soul was in no particular part of the body, was verified by modern science, because DNA is shown to be everywhere in the body. (There are in fact a few exceptions: red blood cells, for example, have no DNA.)
What the theologian did not grasp is that St Gregory recognizes that a soul which is in the elements—the biochemistry—of the body, here the DNA, is at death going to disintegrate along with the body. His meaning in On the Making of Man is not that the soul is everywhere in the elements (or cells) of the body, but that it is not in the elements at all.
Let us look carefully at this idea that the soul of a person is the DNA content of the fertilized egg at natural conception, or even the information content of that DNA, for the idea—as the existence of the article mentioned above indicates—has a certain attractiveness.
Let us recall for a moment Aristotle’s definition of the soul: ‘Therefore the soul is an actuality of the first kind of a natural body having the potential of life. Such a body would be organic.’ ‘Actuality’ (or ‘actualization’ or ‘entelechy’: entelecheia) is synonymous with ‘form’, that which gives matter its actuality. ‘Actuality of the first kind’ refers to the distinction between the actuality (say, knowledge) which I possess even though I may not be exercising it at the moment—I may be asleep without for all that having been deprived of my knowledge of mathematics, which is inactive because of the sleep—from the actuality (‘of the second kind’) that is in full exercise—I am exercising my knowledge of mathematics by actually at this moment computing the area of a circle.
‘Organic (organiko)’ in Aristotle’s definition is an ambiguous term. The context of Aristotle’s definition, where he immediately proceeds in the following lines to discuss the organs of plants seems to give the term a biological sense: an organic body is a biological body, one organized into organs, which, Aristotle seems to be saying, even plants have.
The attractiveness of seeing the soul to be in the DNA seems to have to do with the idea that the DNA is the ‘essential form’ of the person, that somehow that form or actuality that Aristotle might be referring to in his definition of the soul really is the DNA, that the DNA is the ‘heart’ of the person.
This point of view—that the soul of a man is his DNA at natural conception—has the advantage, in addition to being, seemingly, au courant, of attaching the sense of ‘soul’ as ‘principle of unique identity’ to what in the standard model today of the genetic program constitutes the principle of the uniqueness of the modelled organism.
We have argued, in The Genetic Program, A Systems Approach, that the standard model today of the genetic program—the Neo-Mendelian model—is faulty from the logical point of view in not being developmentally oriented.
Moreover, we have suggested in the same work that there are random, or stochastic, elements in the development of man, even, evidently, in the development of his nervous system and brain. We can anticipate that identical twins, which account for 1 in 400 human births and which, since by definition they have developed from the same fertilized egg, have exactly the same DNA at natural conception, will be slightly different, the one from the other, even in their nervous systems, when they are adult individuals. That is not to deny that identical twins look and act much alike. However, the argument that the DNA is the soul founders. For 1 in 400 human births would then give rise to two persons with the same soul, whatever that might be, and those two persons with the same soul would not be as adults carbon copies the one of the other as regarded their bodies, by virtue of the stochastic elements in development that we have just referred to.
No father of identical twins—we suppose—has ever imagined that his two sons or daughters were the same person or had an identity or continuity of consciousness. When one of the twins dies, in a car accident, say, the other suffers nothing: he or she does not also die, if we assume that he or she was elsewhere at the time. Of course, the two twins would be equally subject to genetically-based illnesses if they carried the genes which disposed to those illnesses, but that is another matter.
Moreover, in the normal process of development, the DNA in the cells is altered to a greater or lesser extent. Not all the alterations are to the nucleotide sequence, but some are: the immune system, and evidently the brain, are examples of this.
As we have already remarked, not all cells contain DNA; red blood cells are an example of this.
DNA is damaged by many routinely occurring events, including illnesses (especially some viral illnesses), radiation and other ‘wear and tear’ events within the cell, and it is routinely fixed by the cell—but with a certain error rate.
Hence, while the person’s soul might be considered to be the DNA or its information content in the fertilized egg at natural conception, that fertilized egg is soon dividing and replicating its DNA in the complex procedure called development, and not all the cells in the mature individual will have exactly the same DNA that the fertilized egg had at natural conception.
Moreover, since cancer is apparently a disease of the control centres and transcription units of the DNA, then it would have to be considered to be a disease of the soul, an odd conclusion indeed.
The same might be said of any other disease which altered the DNA, especially a disease which were caused by a retrovirus, a virus which inserts new DNA into a chromosome. These diseases would all have to be construed to alter the soul.
Moreover, it is not at all clear how identifying the soul with the DNA would address the question of that aspect of the soul that we have been concentrating on: its role as a vivifying principle. The DNA contains information which is used to control the transition of the living cell from one state to another, new state. That DNA is part of a cell-wide system, an important part, surely, but it cannot be isolated from its cellular environment. It acts much like the hard disk memory in a personal computer. In no known case does the DNA assemble a cell around itself de novo, nor do we imagine that anyone would expect to find a DNA molecule that did so. Viruses are a special case: they parasitize living cells, and their range of possible hosts is precisely those cells with which their DNA (or RNA) is directly or indirectly compatible. An alteration to the DNA of a cell is much like an alteration to a part of a computer’s hard disk memory, and the procedure of transplanting a nucleus into an egg cell is much like changing the hard disk of a computer. What is changed is the information—part of it at any rate—that will control the transitions of the cell and its descendent cells from one state to another.
Although the cell’s DNA provides the information that for the most part controls the transition the cell will make from one state to another, its role is passive. It is in no sense acting as a master controller or ‘big boss’ directing the parts of the cell or tissue or organ or body what to do. The DNA does not make conscious decisions. It is merely a chemical.
However, the attractiveness of identifying the soul with the DNA depends on the notion that the person alive, the healthy adult individual, is the result of all those transitions for the most part controlled by the information in the DNA. Hence, if I change the DNA of the fertilized egg at natural conception, I am changing the person’s soul. This is probably how the theologian mentioned identified the soul with the DNA. But the DNA is simply a chemical.
The fundamental problem in the matter is the localization of the soul in the DNA or in its information content. And the problem is precisely the one St Gregory has raised: all attempts to localize the soul, whatever it might be, in the body, or in some part of it, or in the functioning of the body or of some part of it, founder on the dissolution of the body at death. This is even apart from the problem of locating those aspects that we would like to retain as referring to the soul, for example consciousness, in 46 long double-helix molecules found in almost every cell of the body.
When a person dies, his DNA—most of it, at any rate—dissolves. If the soul were the DNA, or its information content, or somehow in the DNA, we would have a situation in which the person’s soul would be located in multiple, perhaps partially degenerate, copies in the person’s bones, which copies might not be exactly the same for the reasons given above—unless the person perished by fire at very high temperature or even were cremated, in which cases his soul would completely perish. While the Orthodox Church does not accept cremation of the dead, it is certainly not because the cremated person’s soul is also cremated—destroyed—along with his bones and flesh.
However, it is well to think about the connection ‘identity – soul – genetic program’ for a moment. The mystique of cloning depends on this connection. This mystique is taken both positively and negatively, but in both ways it is deceiving. Clones are an artefact of the standard model today of the genetic program.
A clone, in reality, is nothing more than an artificially produced identical twin, identical to a person already alive and, normally, already born. Identical twins have been around, as far as we know, as long as man and have not created any excitement; as we have pointed out above, they are just two people who look and act much alike. They might not even like each other, as we were once advised by an identical twin concerning relations between her and her sister.
Moreover, as we have pointed out, the myth of the clone as a carbon copy of a living person founders on the facts of development. Identical twins and clones are not absolutely identical, certainly not in their immune systems and probably not in their brains. The current model of the genetic program, not being developmental in nature, makes the error of equating identity of nucleotide sequence in the perhaps artificially ‘fertilized’ egg with identity of adult individual, ignoring the chance and environmental aspects of the development of an individual into a mature adult from a single cell. It is this aspect which led us above to say that clones are an artefact of the current model of the genetic program: it is the non-developmental nature of the current model of the genetic program that leads to the concept of clone as carbon copy of a person already living; when the development of the human is studied, it becomes evident that that concept is naïvely oversimplified and false.
We remarked above that there appear to be random or stochastic elements in the development of the human nervous system, and even, evidently, of the human brain, and we remarked just above concerning identical twins and clones that they probably do not have identical brains. While these things are in fact true, we said them for convenience. We have already discussed the limitations of localizing the soul, whatever it might be, in the brain, or in some part of the brain, but it is easier to communicate the flaw in the logic of cloning by making reference to that important part of a person’s body.
As we have pointed out, the localization of the soul in the DNA, or in its information content, attracts us because—seemingly—the DNA in each cell contains the ‘code’—the information—which defines the personhood of the person whose DNA is being considered. Hence the idea that a clone of a person is the same person as the person who is being cloned is seen, positively, as the perpetuation of the one person, or, negatively, as an attack on personhood. We have listed some of the problems—there are others, for another forum—above. But, in general, identical twins never posed this threat to personhood or even this hope of self-perpetuation, this hope of artificial immortality, and, as we said, identical twins have been around, as far as we know, as long as man.
 1 Cor. 15, 32.
 St Gregory will introduce mechanistic arguments against the existence of the soul further on.
 We say ‘natural conception’ to avoid here issues arising from genetic procedures such as cloning or genetic engineering.
 Making G.
 Gilbert p. 186.
 Not even that is such a straightforward business as it might seem.
 Some are alterations to non-nucleotide-sequence aspects of the DNA; we particularly have in mind methylation.
 The cloning procedure currently implants the nucleus of a somatic cell of the donor into a denucleated unfertilized egg.