In a wonderful article at Another Think, Charles Lehardy writes about Tradition As DNA. I particularly took note of his identification of one of the apparent inconsistencies of the Progressives.
If Harris is right, what progressives are attempting is a genetic experiment on our community DNA. If environmentalists can have qualms about genetically modified corn, shouldn’t we be all the more cautious about experimenting with the human family? If we have moral questions about cloning sheep, shouldn’t we be even more cautious about experimenting with thousands of years of human social development?
I see more than tradition as community DNA. You could use this model to look at culture and civilization itself as DNA and revolutions, social engineering, and other attempts at change as attempts to alter our collective social DNA.
While the thrust of Charles’ article is toward the destructive aspects of this type of wholesale change, especially as related to marriage, I believe that the model identifies many examples of serious genetic alteration that many would argue have been good. Using this model you could look at the invasion of Christianity into the Roman world as a sort of retrovirus (in this case from our perspective a good retrovirus) that rewrote the genetic code of the prevailing culture and gave birth to a new species, Western Civilization as we have historically known it.
Likewise you could argue that the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the Information Age (to name a few possibilities) all were retroviral alterations to Western Civilization (and to a degree other civilizations such as Islam and the East) that have caused numerous social and traditional genetic mutations. You could easily argue that some of those mutations were beneficial while others were destructive.
One of the major aspects of my professional life has been information architecture and part of that discipline is the categorization of information. The classic example of categorization is the way biologist identify life using things like species. These categorizations are merely templates put over the real world to help us understand and organize information. They are useful artificial constructs that give us constructive ways of examining and classifying what we see in the world around us.
Looking at human society with its traditions as a type of DNA is another such construct or classification mechanism. It can help us to constructively examine and classify what we see happening in the societies that make up our humans systems, both now and historically. This deserves further study.
Charles article is one of the wonderful things I like about blogs. Because of his insight I now also have new insights and information annealing takes place on a scale that earlier inquirers could only dream about. This idea of social and civilizational DNA opens up a whole new way of looking at ourselves and the history that got us to who we now are. This takes the idea of God as a potter to a whole new level and reveals in an even more significant way the extensiveness of God’s sovereignty.
Grace and peace to your day. The Knowing God study will be out later this evening.