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Published by: outdash2 on Oct 20, 2013
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 But the Earth He HasGiven to Mankind?Toward a Theology of Synthetic Biology
Man in the story o creation does not occupy a unique ontic position. He is, rather, a drop o thecosmos that fts into the schemata o naturalnessand concreteness… While the background o mans existence is his involvement in the naturalbiological occurrence, his vistas are almostendless. His origin is the earth, the mothero the wildower and the insect; his destiny,destination and goal are placed in the sublimeheights o a transcendental world.
Te author wishes to thank Dr. Keith Burkum or his crucial insights inhelping to outline and prepare the article. Te author also wishes to thank Dr. Linda Brown, Rabbi Dr. David Shabtai, and Rabbi Jonathan Cohenor their comments and assistance in ensuring the clarity o the article. special thanks to Ms. ova Gardin or her help in editing, arranging, andurther clariying this piece.1 R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik,
Te Emergence of Ethical Man
, ed. MichaelBerger (Jersey City, NJ, 2005), 13.Peter Kahn is a ourth year
student at the Rabbi Isaac ElchananTeological Seminary and a frst year student at the Albert Einstein Collegeo Medicine.
But the Earth He Has Given to Mankind? 
Man’s Relationship with Nature as Derived from aTheology of Creation
History is replete with stories o man’s war against na-ture. Judaism in particular very directly addresses this conict,starting as early as the third chapter o Genesis. Even in theearliest beginnings o history, it is the ate o human beings tostruggle with nature so that we may thrive. In the broader con-text o humanity, we still struggle against the very orces Adamsought to control during his sojourn on this earth. Indeed, al-though humanity has deeated many o the scourges that haveplagued us since the primeval age, we ultimately remain power-less beore the orces o nature and its equalizing might. Just as Adam was orced to struggle with the earth to yield his ood, we must similarly grapple with the structures o nature to en-hance human survival and quality o lie.In modern history, man’s struggle with nature hasplayed out in the realm o science. On occasion, man has beenclearly successul – e.g. Jenner’s insightul vaccination projectto eradicate smallpox 
– while in others, we have been roundly deeated –or example, in our quixotic battle against multipleand extensive drug resistant tuberculosis (M/XMDR-B). De-spite these advances, a complete and comprehensive success inthe sense o a total mastery o nature ultimately escapes us.Nonetheless, there have been triumphal marches toward thatgoal as modern science has developed. Modern science, as dis-tinct rom its earlier predecessors, presently exercises unprec-edented levels o control over the biological processes that rep-resent the most undamentally natural aspects o our existence– lie and death. Its disciples have created lie in petri dishesand have ended lives using injections o substances invented by its adherents. We have also been witness to and are ortunateto be the benefciaries o unmatched mastery over other areasin nature as well, ranging rom the ood we eat to the ways in which industry unctions. Aristotle, arguably the ounder o 
2 On this point, see the
iferet Yisrael 
3:14 or an astonishing description o Jenner among the righteous o the nations.
Verapo Yerape 
the study o biology, could never have envisioned such a degreeo success in his descriptions o the unctioning o science.
  While the ruits o this labor have thus ar indeed beeno indisputable beneft to humanity, there exists a ar largerquestion about the process used to arrive at this juncture. Teexploratory process o science ought to stimulate discussion onthe myriad o ethical, moral, and religious issues that are atten-dant upon such developments. Approaching this question rom a theological perspec-tive, the frst two chapters o Genesis illustrate a divinely or-dained, deeply symbiotic relationship between man and theearth. As part o the Divine partnership, God thrusts man intothis symbiotic relationship with the earth and requires manto show appropriate care in how he relates to the earth. Manis created rom dust, depends on the earth or his sustenance,and ultimately, at the end o his days, returns to the very earthrom whence he came. Te very 
o burial, R. Soloveit-chik explains, “indicates the validity o the demand the earthmakes upon man. She insists upon the return o a part o herown sel.
o burial is a fnal reinorcement o ourinextricable link to the ecosystem o nature.Similarly, inasmuch as man is dependent upon theearth, the orah notes that earth itsel is even more dependenton man than we would have imagined. In the absence o manto work the soil, there was no vegetation upon the earth.
Manalso has the ability to defle the earth and contaminate it withsin;
depending upon the way in which man behaves towardthe earth, he can either “corrupt and defle nature, or sanctiy her.”
 Our connection with nature runs even deeper. As oneo the doxologies o Judaism, the
keriat shema 
recited twice daily 
3 C. Aristotle’s
(in particular books I and II) and
On the Parts of Ani-mals 
or his descriptions o the scientifc method and biology, respectively.4 Soloveitchik,
Te Emergence of Ethical Man
, 52.5 Genesis 2:5.6 C. Leviticus 19:29 and 18:25.7 Soloveitchik,
Te Emergence of Ethical Man
, 58.

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