All research or scholarship questions
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Just an interesting thought for speculation---what might happen if the hair of Baha'u'llah (or of 'Abdu'l-Baha) were used to sequence His DNA? It would no doubt give interesting insights as a greater understanding of the human genome develops...
anonyM wrote:Beyond any ethical considerations (e.g. reverence etc)
Yeah, that is the biggest question, of course.
anonyM wrote:I guess finding samples may prove tricky. That said perhaps there are locks of His hair somewhere that may be donated if the cause was deemed worthy?
The locks of hair are present at even some National Archives, as I recall. I don't know about the Bab, 'Abdu'l-Baha, or Shoghi Effendi (and if not, obtaining them would raise more reverence issues).
anonyM wrote:But what possible good would sequencing His DNA do?
Although it wouldn't have relevance to the question of the influence of the Holy Spirit, it could shed some very interesting insight on the personality of Baha'u'llah. What was His natural temperament? Did He have gifts in learning language? Was He sociable, artistic, or emotional by nature? How would His intelligence be assessed by the standards of today?
I wonder what it would say as to this quotation (an older translation, but apparently based on an authentic Tablet):
As to thy question concerning Christ: Know thou, He was perfect in respect to spirit as well as body. His material (body) was a perfect body in every respect; none of His material conditions were imperfect at all, inasmuch as imperfection is contrary to perfection.
(Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha Abbas, p. 228)
Of course, that would not be easy to confirm what would be meant by "perfect"--e.g., shy people are more inclined to become scientists, etc.
anonyM wrote:Not quite sure what is meant by "bodily deficiency" here either? It would also be interesting from a evolutionary-biology perspective to discovery whether their is evidence to suggest His physically superiority.
I have to say though I am not completely comfortable with the idea of putting the Most Precious Being ever to have drawn breath on this planet 'under the microscope'. Perhaps this will be one of the tests that people will want to carry out on the next Manifestation? "No, I am sorry Sir. You can't be the One Promised by Baha'u'llah. Your DNA simply isn't up to scratch!". Perhaps by then everyones DNA will be on some kind of central database. But that's too far into the future. The advancements and changes that will take place between now and then are at present inconceivable. Human life though, I think Shoghi Effendi suggests, may not be restricted to this planet at that stage.
Further thoughts on the subject: if someone took it a step further to cloning (or possibly a hybrid clone, let's say of Shoghi Effendi and Ruhiyyih Khanum)--no doubt against Baha'i law since beyond the questions of obtaining the DNA, cloning of a full-functioning human would presumably only be permitted where from a married couple* (though there is also an apparently contrary quotation**, unless it is speaking only about research into possibilities rather than actually producing clones) and one would most certainly assume where they had consented (unless perhaps it were a decision made by the Central Authority of the Faith, now the Universal House of Justice, in which case, were it even possible, it could be seen as the Will of God and therefore permissible)--what would cloning or hybrid cloning mean for the Covenant? While the linear succession up to Shoghi Effendi is clearly already established by history, is there a possibility that say the House of Justice (or future Manifestation) could one day decide to create a second Guardian based on making a genuine hybrid clone of their DNA?
I somewhat hesitate to bring this up since besides being speculative, possibly immoral, and could no doubt invite kookery, I think it can be fun to speculate a little... However, cloning is not science-fiction anymore, even for humans; obstacles appear to be primarily legal/ethical ones now, not technical.
But simply reading the DNA would be, I would think, much less controversial, and be able to shed some insight on the Faith's founders.
And, this opportunity could be fairly unique when compared to previous religions whose Founders' DNA might not be possible to obtain or confirm.
"Regarding surrogate mothers and artificial insemination, you will find the following extracts from statements made by the Universal House of Justice relevant to your questions:
'The beloved Guardian, in a letter written on his behalf to an individual believer who enquired on the same subject, said "...there is nothing in our teachings about this, therefore there is no objection to having a baby by means of artificial insemination as long as your husband is the father of it.'
'Artificial insemination is, therefore, permissible to a Bahá'í wife provided her husband is the donor.'"
(From a letter dated 11 July 1978 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
"Also, after quoting the above statement of the Guardian, the following comment was made in another letter:
'In view of this, the House of Justice has stated that it would not be proper for a Bahá'í to donate semen to a hospital for the artificial insemination of a woman other than his wife.'"
(From a letter dated 25 May 1979 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia)
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the compiler of this compilation, October 27, 1981, in Lights of Guidance, no. 973)
"...As to the possibility of conception without the presence of a male sperm in the future: This is a question which lies entirely within the province of science, and which future scientists will have to investigate."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 27, 1938)
brettz9 wrote:[I]s there a possibility that say the House of Justice (or future Manifestation) could one day decide to create a second Guardian based on making a genuine hybrid clone of their DNA?
This is hardly anything more than pure fantasy because there is far more to being qualified to be Guardian than mere genetics!
There is also the vital question of personality, commitment, and spiritual dedication to the Cause; and these are not in the least guaranteed by mere duplication of genes!
In looking for a quotation which confirmed your statement (though your statement wouldn't by itself reject the possibility that a hybrid clone could indeed have those qualities you mention), I see that it would not be possible in this Dispensation:
O ye beloved of the Lord! It is incumbent upon the Guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own life-time him that shall become his successor, that differences may not arise after his passing. He that is appointed must manifest in himself detachment from all worldly things, must be the essence of purity, must show in himself the fear of God, knowledge, wisdom and learning. Thus, should the first-born of the Guardian of the Cause of God not manifest in himself the truth of the words:--"The child is the secret essence of its sire," that is, should he not inherit of the spiritual within him (the Guardian of the Cause of God) and his glorious lineage not be matched with a goodly character, then must he, (the Guardian of the Cause of God) choose another branch to succeed him.
(Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 12, emphasis added)
Even in such a case, no one but a Guardian can appoint a successor Guardian. Only Shoghi Effendi could have appointed one; but all the Aghsan (Arabic for "branches" -- male descendants of Baha'u'llah) had died spiritually or physically -- not one was left within the Covenant.