I am sure I am not alone in not expecting theological insight from PZ Myers. But lately he has been sharing things that are on target, and in one recent post in particular, he focuses in on a topic of crucial theological and scientific importance, and one that is certainly of universal interest: what happens if someone tries to clone Jesus?
Now, let me immediately follow up by noting that Myers failed to fact-check the story that came across his radar. Snopes has an entry from back in 2007 debunking the authenticity of the “Second Coming Project.” Nevertheless, the scenarios that Myers explores would themselves make for great science fiction stories. For instance, he writes:
- The shroud isn’t going to be a particularly rich source of Jesus cells. It would have had only brief, weak contact with the body, and probably contains far more cells from passing pilgrims and holy men over the centuries. You’re more likely to resurrect some 15th century priest who is not going to be very happy with the high expectations given to him.
- The shroud isn’t old enough — it’s been dated to the 13th century. You’re not going to find any Jesus cells at all. Although you may extract a few cells from the fraud who manufactured it, in which case the resurrected man, if such traits are at all hereditary, might be very happy to take advantage of your expectations.
There are other scenarios in his post, but the ones above seem to me that they would make for two or perhaps one great story, in which scientists create a clone based on DNA found on the Shroud of Turin, eventually realize that the individual they have produced is not a replica of Jesus, and then debates ensue about whether they have before them a devout keeper of the shroud, or its fraudulent creator…
There is already a series of novels called The Christ Clone Trilogy and another called The Messiah Conspiracy: The Race to Clone Jesus Christ. There is also apparently a comic book about a clone of Jesus Christ being created for a reality TV show (called Punk Rock Jesus), and another that involves an army of clones created by the Vatican to fight vampires. Have any of you read any of them? I haven’t, but have wondered occasionally whether I ought to. Indeed, for all I know, the stories that seem worth writing based on PZ Myers’ post may already exist, and I simply don’t know about them, and so I will invite readers of this blog to fill in the gaps in my knowledge of Jesus-cloning sci-fi where appropriate. There are certainly a much larger number of such stories in existence than most people are aware of. Perhaps an academic monograph focused entirely on stories about cloning Jesus is needed?