9 Comments

DNA and Tradition, Guide for the Perplexed

Ok, the title of my post actually comes from two different books.  The first is called “DNA and Tradition:  The Genetic Link to the Ancient Hebrews“, by Rabbi Yaakov Kleiman.  The rabbi looks into DNA evidence concerning the tribe of Levi, as well as the other lost tribes of Israel.

In the introduction to the book, there are several interesting quotes, and he quotes from a book written by Rabbi Moses Maimonides (1135 – 1204 ) called Guide for the Perplexed, which examines the issues of being a religious scientist.

Of course I find some interesting parallels between this jew, looking of the lost tribes, and mormons, looking for the Lamanites.  And it seems my science vs religion, and DNA posts are getting the most comments lately, so I thought I’d tie these topics together.

Here are some interesting quotes from the book.

“Albert Einstein is quoted as having stated that if you cannot explain something to your grandmother, then you probably don’t really understand it….”

“Although writing more than 700 years ago, [Rabbi Moses] Nachmanides’ message is even more clear and relevant today.  His writings directed the person of faith to realize that there is much more hidden than revealed, both in the traditional Biblical writings and also in the natural world.  Our challenge is to continually study and investigate both realms, with the realization that apparent conflicts are merely artifacts of temporary incomplete understanding in one or both realms.  This avoidance of intellectual pride, allows the person of traditional religious faith to work comfortably within the framework of rigorous scientific hypothesis and empiricism.  This is also in keeping with the rationalist approach in Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed.”

I plan future topics on Rabbi Kleiman’s DNA analysis of the Cohen gene, and will note that as I quickly skimmed through the book, he does mention “Mormans” claims to the tribe of Manasseh in the Book of Mormon.  As I just started the book, I’m not sure if his analysis is positive, negative, or neutral, but I look forward to reading chapter 5, which more fully addresses this topic.

I’ll stop here for now, and ask for opinions regarding “intellectual pride.” Anybody agree/disagree with any of these rabbis?

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9 comments on “DNA and Tradition, Guide for the Perplexed

  1. I guess the intellectual pride is deciding that you know and not being humble enough to admit that you really know very little. It might also be an understanding that religious belief cannot be empirically verified, so there is very little in a system of empirically verification that could be detrimental to religious belief.

  2. Yes, DPC, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Both sides can be guilty of intellectual pride.

  3. I love both quotes given above!

    Once in a discussion of evolution with a Evangelical Christian, in which he categorically denounced evolution, I asked a couple of questions that ended the conversation.

    1. Who do you credit for the written word in the Bible?
    Answer – God.
    2. Who do you credit for the recorded evidence in the fossil record?
    Answer -What do you mean?
    Who placed those fossils in the ground for us to find?
    Answer – I don’t know.
    Did God create the earth?
    Answer – Yes
    Is He just as responsible for the fossil record as He is for that which is recorded in the Bible.
    Answer – Sputter, followed by a rapid departure.

    Clearly my friend would benefit if he’d accept the need to “continually study and investigate both realms, with the realization that apparent conflicts are merely artifacts of temporary incomplete understanding in one or both realms.”

    Thanks for the great quotations!

  4. Candleman, that is such an interesting approach! I like Joseph Smith’s idea that God “organized” rather than “created” the earth. It seems to give the idea that dinosaurs could have roamed on another planet, and God merely used the material to put them here.

    There is still a problem with that logic however. Fossils of ancient humans are at least 20-30,000 years old, which would indicate, as Maimonides says, “artifacts of temporary incomplete understanding in one or both realms.” If the Bible says the earth is only 6000 years old, these fossilized people should have been resurrected by now if they came from another world…..or we need to work on other explanations.

  5. […] seems to be another problem.  I did a post last July on a book I read called “DNA and Tradition:  The Genetic Link to the Ancient Hebrews“, […]

  6. […] Also, the conversation veered off the road on my Malay post, going into the space-time continuum.  So, since I like to compartmentalize things, I thought I’d open up a new post where space-time continuum, advanced civilizations, etc can be talked about.  So, this is basically a science post where you can post anything to do with science vs religion.  I don’t care about threadjacking here, as long as it shows some reference to science.  I do want to pull a quote from Nachminides, as we start this discussion.  I posted this previously on my DNA post: […]

  7. @Candleman
    Here’s a similar question that I was asked recently:
    “Who collected the “Material” to form fossils? Scientists? or did they happen on their own?”
    Instead of a hasty retreat, here’s my reply:
    Not a very smart question because the answer should be obvious to you. The animals/plants that died and left the fossils did not and could not make themselves. There is nothing of a material nature that made itself. Within every atom of every rock, there is a great deal of information and THAT does not generate itself. See how easy that was? The simplicity of the creationist point of view is awe-inspiring!

  8. “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
    12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:

    16 ” ‘After this I will return
    and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
    Its ruins I will rebuild,
    and I will restore it,
    17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
    even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
    says the Lord, who does these things’ i—
    18 things known from long ago. j

    19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

    The New International Version. 2011 (Ac 15:7-21). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

  9. “I like Joseph Smith’s idea that God “organized” rather than “created” the earth. It seems to give the idea that dinosaurs could have roamed on another planet, and God merely used the material to put them here.”

    ————————

    How does this square with Dinosaurs in the paintings on the walls of the World room in the Temples?

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