Has Humanity Violated God’s Boundaries In Pursuit Of Science?

Efficient encapsulation of molecules – a major technological challenge – makes possible a high loading capacity of molecules. (photo credit: ELLA MARU STUDIO)
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Some religious scholars are asking the right ethical questions, even though they may not have the all the right answers. But this definitely has a ring the truth to it: “We are toying with the building blocks of the world God created… Yet there are limits to human creativity. There are basic boundaries of nature we aren’t meant to encroach upon.”⁃ TN Editor

In our efforts to preserve life, we adopt every possible measure to prevent senseless or accidental death. For this reason, the Torah obligates us to construct fences upon the flat roofs of our homes so that “you should not situate blood in your homes.”

Surprisingly, the instruction to maintain safe home environments is juxtaposed to a seemingly unrelated prohibition of mixing seeds and grapes, mandating that these dissimilar species be planted at a distance from each other. The instruction to erect a fence upon a flat roof and the violation of mixing different agricultural groups appear to share little in common.

The price of progress

The commandment to construct a fence on a roof has broader metaphoric implications. Fences are only necessary in multi-storied homes. When humans lived in modest, single-story thatch huts, fences weren’t necessary. Rickety roofs couldn’t support human weight, and the heights of these homes weren’t substantial enough for a fall to be lethal. Fences on roofs only become necessary as humans acquired the skills to construct solid and tall edifices. The need for fences only emerged with the advance of technology.

The first revolutionary phase 

We have all experienced a dizzying 300 years of industrial and technological revolutions, each of which has dramatically advanced the human condition. However, each revolution introduced new threats to human well-being.

The Industrial Revolution revolutionized human labor, relocating industry from the farmlands and local shops into massive factories. But it also stationed workers in cramped conditions with poor ventilation and toxic exposure to hazardous materials. These dark and inhuman caverns often callously exploited child and immigrant labor. Furthermore, industrialization polluted our environment and accelerated global warming, the effects of which we are first beginning to suffer.

The Industrial Revolution also created a demographic shift, rapidly accelerating urbanization and creating overcrowded concrete jungles of crime and urban blight.

For its part, the technological revolution and the Internet have radically diminished human interaction, creating more loneliness and less communal belonging. Every technology advances human progress but also introduces new and unspoken menaces to human welfare. By charging us to build fences upon our tall homes, the Torah is effectively cautioning us to be sensitive to the dangers which accompany new technologies.

Changing nature 

The adjacent prohibition to the commandment to build walls bans the mixing of grains and grapes. Unlike the instruction to build a fence upon a roof, the Torah doesn’t rationalize this prohibition based on its potential negative impact. It states the prohibition without any explanation or reasoning. Evidently, mixing different agricultural species and manipulating nature is banned, even if they don’t harm the human condition. God fixed inviolate boundaries in nature which are not to be crossed, even in the pursuit of science and progress.

We are currently standing at an important threshold of human innovation and technology. We are not just developing the ability to build taller homes but are beginning to re-engineer nature itself. We have passed from the stage of building tall homes to the stage of mixing grains and grapes.

Past industrial or technological revolutions didn’t alter the basic chemistry of nature but merely harnessed its potential more efficiently. For example, successive revolutions in energy empowered us to draw more energy from our natural world. Initially, we sailed the oceans on wind-powered ships, aided by human muscle.

We soon discovered that heating water would release steam energy and that burning coal would release heat energy. Each of these discoveries allowed us to mechanize labor and production and to revolutionize travel. Ultimately, we discovered that natural gas and fossil fuels contained even greater energy capacity which could be released by controlled burning. At no point, though, did our manipulation of energy sources alter the basic configuration of nature.

All this changed, however, over the past century, as quantum physics and Einstein’s discoveries allowed us to peer into the sub-atomic level of our world. We soon discovered that by splitting atoms, we could unleash enough energy to destroy the world. We are now discovering that by fusing atoms, we can release even more energy. By splitting atoms and by combining atoms, we are re-engineering the basic model of nature.

Another example of technological advances changing the basic design of nature are the advances in the field of medicine. Over the past 500 years, the progress of Western medicine has dramatically improved human health and significantly expanded life expectancy. These inventions didn’t alter nature but equipped us with the skills and the tools to better understand human physiology and provide both preventional and interventional procedures. These revolutions didn’t mix grains and grapes but merely built taller homes.

Medical science is now entering a bold new era. Having mapped the human genome, we can re-engineer human DNA and, potentially, alter human identity. We can clone new life, and we can manufacture 3D-artificial limbs and organs. Artificial intelligence will, ultimately, enable the creation of enhanced human beings by fusing technology with human biology. We are toying with the building blocks of the world God created. This is a very different type of technology and poses a very different religious question.

AS WITH everything else, the Torah provides direction. Technology itself should never be vilified. For a religious Jew, the march of science and progress is driven by a religious impulse. God is kind and compassionate, and desires that we improve our condition and welfare. Greek mythology depicted Prometheus stealing fire from the gods and being eternally punished for his crime. By stark contrast, the Gemara describes God delivering fire to Adam immediately after the first week of creation. This passing of fire from God to Man, is effectively a passing of the baton. God signaled that His creation was completed and that now, He expected humanity to improve the world He intentionally left imperfect.

Yet there are limits to human creativity. There are basic boundaries of nature we aren’t meant to encroach upon. Or, as God instructed Adam, it is his world “to develop but also to preserve.” We must develop but must also preserve. Balancing the two divine mandates will never be easy.

We do not possess any clear tradition about larger issues such as global warming, genetic engineering, or quantum physics. The best we can do is to maintain a delicate balance. In our pursuit of science and innovation, we must respect the boundaries God installed in nature. When we sense that we are crossing those boundaries, we must pause and consider whether we are developing God’s world as He desires or are mixing grapes and grains.

Constructing taller buildings is crucial for human development. Living in straw huts or mud homes exposed humanity to the violent forces of nature. Additionally, in the absence of multi-storied structures, populations were scattered across broad regions. Acquiring the ability to manufacture bricks and mortar enabled the generation of the Tower of Babel to condense the population and to inaugurate the first recorded city, effectively eliminating the curse of Kayin to nomadically wander the Earth. Building tall structures with high roofs was a major milestone of architectural achievement.

But it also presented new perils. Solid roofs expanded human living space but also introduced the deadly hazard of falling off those roofs. By cautioning us to build a fence, the Torah signals a broader message: Pay attention, not just to the benefits of human innovation but also to the undisclosed dangers which new technologies create. As the human spirit advances, we must not allow technology to endanger life or to harm human welfare.

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About the Editor

Patrick Wood
Patrick Wood is a leading and critical expert on Sustainable Development, Green Economy, Agenda 21, 2030 Agenda and historic Technocracy. He is the author of Technocracy Rising: The Trojan Horse of Global Transformation (2015) and co-author of Trilaterals Over Washington, Volumes I and II (1978-1980) with the late Antony C. Sutton.
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It’s called prevenient grace, or common grace, that God has given to man to accommdate for his command to be fruitful and multiply. But like everything else, we have gone beyond His boundaries and now, as MIT AI Lab’s Tom Knight said, “the genetic code is 3.6 billion years old. It’s time for a rewrite.” Yeah, right. Mr Knight will bring on night. A very dark night. Of course, *he* has superior knowledge, and can account for all variables. This will end up just like That Hideous Strength. Mr, Knight, go ahead and kill yourself (and later send yourself to… Read more »

Hugh G. Chickin

the genetic code is 3.6 billion years old.

Prove it.


The article breathes arrogance.

So God has groundless limits, and the clever human being can and would so gladly transcend them, because he can…?

That is a mistake. God has no limits. He could easily have created the monstrosities that the insanely clever human being sets out to create. But he had mercy and created a glorious world to see how his creatures would deal with it.

If they get cocky and think they can do better than him, he lets them. They will suffer what they created.

Hugh G. Chickin

Why does “god” choose to create beings with certain capacities and then use negative reinforcement to disincentivize them to their own capacities?

Does “god” not know it would have been win-win-win to simply not give the beings those capacities?

I guess I’d also like to know what a “god” is. So, a “god” is something that in the end will say I told you so? Or, since “god” is so-called omniscient, did he say I told you so, when he woke up as a “god”? Since “god” is supposed to know everything.


Amazing what you think you know about God (negative reinforcement…).

Even more amazing that you seem to think I am God.

Ask him, not me. If the motive of your questions is sincere interest (which I don’t believe), he might answer you.

John Dunlap

I firmly believe that this universe is a school, and that we were put here to learn everything about it. However, many have definitely violated moral boundaries, and the boundaries of common sense, in the choices they’ve made in seeking that knowledge, and in how they apply it. The first question one should always answer is not “can I…”; it is “should I….”

Hugh G. Chickin

Sure, learn about it. But once you’ve done that, then what? And the morality you talk about is interesting.

We were trained in morality by the very people who are now violating all of the morals they taught us. So, what do you do in that case?


You have 10 basic laws. No matter, what human tells you any morals.

Plenty enough to think about. And to decide, what you want to do. If you do or want not understand the laws, then it maybe. But is not understanding enough to deny?

John Dunlap

it’s immoral to test things on people without their knowledge and consent. It’s also illegal. It’s immoral to force people to take experimental medical treatments, but it was just done to approx. 70% of the population. Also illegal. That’s where we start, by reminding bureaucrats and their corporate cronies that they are not immune to prosecution. One book I suggest you read is “The Plutonium Files”, by Eilene Welsome. I can’t tell if you’ve simply missed my point or you’re deliberately trolling. I suspect the latter.

Hugh G. Chickin

Has Humanity Violated God’s Boundaries In Pursuit Of Science? So, when one group of people does something that gives a certain result or produces certain consequences, we say “humanity”? As in “humanity created the problem” Tell me, when a dog bites a person in India, do we say “canines have turned on humanity”? When my cat takes down a ceiling fan from overzealous exploration, do headlines appear that “felines are at war with rotating objects”? or “felines testing fasteners in homes”? I’ll have you know that just because someone can claim to be of the same species as me does… Read more »

Sharon Donner

Man will destroy himself out of stupidity before he manages to truly violate God’s boundaries, which would require him to create something out of nothing, such as a blade of grass, which then has the ability to take root, multiply and grow.