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2 Responses

  1. dr. bill says:

    Thoughtful essay.

    there is a thin line between the hubris of those who built the tower of babel and the command given to us created be’Tzelem Elokim to use our God given talents to understand his world and rule over it. These discoveries do not challenge, in any way, emunah in HaShem, but they appear rather challenging to some of our misconceptions about Him and our beliefs. What worries me is the inability to reconcile all this science with a religious hashkafa when the challenges (as the rav ztl noted in the Lonely Man of Faith) are so rudimentary. What might happen as those challenges continue to grow?

    i find it useful to test what some might consider ikkarim against what science may discover (in a few hundred years) to better articulate and differentiate core jewish beliefs/ikkarim from the “language of the day” used to express them.

  2. One Christian's perspective says:

    Rabbi Shafran, your article was very kind. Not being as sensitive as you, I am afraid I would have gone right to the point as you pointed out later, in the words of David Baltimore: “life was not engendered; it was manipulated”. That is what bothers me.

    Just because man has the ability to do something, to go ahead and do it may not necessarily be the wisest thing to do especially in this “type” of work. You mentioned Dolly the sheep and I was reminded of something I had read years ago but looked her up on the web to refresh my faulty memories and this is what I found: Dolly was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell using the process of nuclear transfer. This event happened Jule 5, 1996 and on February 14, 2003 Dolly was euthanised because she had a progressive lung disease and severe arthritis. A Finn Dorset such as Dolly has a life expectancy of around 11 to 12 years, but Dolly lived to be only six years of age. Some have speculated that a contributing factor to Dolly’s death was that she could have been born with a genetic age of six years, the same age as the sheep from which she was cloned. One basis for this was the finding that Dolly’s telomeres were short, which typically is a result of the ageing process. The Roslin Institute have stated that intensive health screening did not reveal any abnormalities in Dolly that could have come from advanced ageing.

    Man may have the God given intelligence to understand some things but man certainly does not have the mind of God who understands all things. Holy Scripture says God creates all things and He also sustains them. He is an integral part of the entire package from beginning to end. The package is His design to function according to the wisdom of His creation and purpose to live in harmony with all other created things. To snip and paste manipulated life forms into synthetic life forms and expect good things to happen in real life forms may be a fools paradise…or not.

    “Well, actually, there is something wondrous about what the scientists did here too. Because what might be the greatest miracle of Creation is that, above and beyond all other life on earth, we humans have been granted the astonishing ability to think and discover, to analyze and creatively utilize the rest of nature. What a wondrous gift. – Rabbi Shafran.

    To me the wondrous gift would be to see the depth and complexity of God’s design in living things and be in awe of His wisdom….. but, if God is out of the picture, man reverts to “look and see what I have done, “I have created the first organism with a fully synthetic genome and this breakthrough will benefit industries like pharmaceuticals, energy and materials.”

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