One of the things that I like to do is take the secular and religious, put them in a context and see what happens. I will try to make this an ongoing series and hope that I get some input from others that might direct where these writings might go. My goal is not to take a stand on an issue but simply start a discussion. I am not an expert in all of these topics, so anyone who wants to weigh in, I’d appreciate it.
Here we go…
The beauty of Netflix is that I can rent all those movies that were not something I wanted to spend the cash on when it was in theaters. One of these is the movie Splice; two scientists (a husband and wife team) create a human using advanced science and cloning techniques. Their access to these technologies was originally to create organisms to produce proteins to cure various diseases. The creation, called Dren, develops alarming superhuman characteristics and violent behavior. Without giving away the ending,= (because I know everyone is rushing out to rent this film) it ends up with the female scientist apparently continuing on the research.
I began to think while watching this film about Genesis. G-d is the ultimate creator, and as a practicing Jew of faith I believe that. I went back to B’reishit 1:26 and 27 where G-d creates man in his image. B’tzelem Eloheim. My immediate reaction when thinking about this statement in the context of genetic science and the issues of cloning and such is that if G-d created man in his image than is it possible that G-d intended man to develop the intellect and tools to create?
The religious right would say no; that creation is something that sets G-d apart from man. This point is very valid looking at the idea of a divine being. The divine creates and the divine guides. However the Torah teaches us that man was created to become master of the Earth. There is a huge contradiction here. Does man have the right to use their free will and intelligence in these scientific pursuits? Really, we already have. In-vitro fertilization was the ability of man to create the circumstances that would allow women who could not conceive on their own an avenue to do so. This was not really man creating life, so much as adjusting the circumstances in which life is created. Later on though that would change.
Remember Dolly the Sheep? Scientists cloned her not that many years ago. before that day, sheep created sheep. Now man created a sheep. We used innovation and technology to do something that only before was what G-d’s plan of creation did. The big ethical discussion at that time was should man continue on researching the possibility of human cloning. The scientific community has generally accepted that human cloning is off the table.
There are many other ethical debates over man’s use of science. The largest being the stem cell debate. Should these cells, which can be used for various research endeavors be used? The sources of these cells and the ethical concerns of their use are currently a hot topic in the scientific community. My question is how this is related to the idea that man was created in G-d’s image. How much control does man have? At what point does science fiction become science reality? What does B’tzelem Eloheim mean to the pursuit of expanding science and medicine to the secular world?
Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, keep it real.
The Boston Mensch
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