Sunday, April 15, 2007


Obviously we inherit more than the contents of our body. Each of us inherits a basic human shape and our own genetically specific shape. It is often easy to observe the combinations of different features that a person inherits from their parents. "Oh, she has her father's eyes, her mother's lips", etc. If DNA codes just for the manufacture of proteins, how do we inherit this specific shape? Without a governing shape, all the exquisitely timed manufacture of enzymes and proteins from trillions of cells will result in a lifeless puddle of matter rather than a human being. Richard Dawkins, the foremost popularizer of evolutionary thinking, offers the following on the subject, "At the end of a virtuoso origami performance; after numerous foldings-in, pushings-out, bulgings and stretchings of layers of cells; after much dynamically orchestrated differential growth of parts of the embryo at the expense of other parts; after differentiation into hundreds of chemically and physically specialized kinds of cells; when the total number of cells has reached into the trillions, the final product is a baby." If this seems to explain anything to make the process of embryonic development more understandable, that illusion vanishes when you remember that, according to Dawkins' own precepts, there is no origamist. These growing cells are, supposedly, doing this incredible origami by themselves.

Dawkins adds, further,"Cells are programmed, by the genes switched on inside them, to behave as if they know where they are in relation to their neighboring cells, which is how they build their tissues up into the shape of ear lobes and heart valves, eye lenses and sphincter muscles." Notice that he says, "to behave as if they know", which means what exactly? Do they know where they are or don't they? No, they don't. They are just programmed by the genes switched on inside of them to behave as if they know. So, then the programmer knows. But wait, the programmer is the cell itself, at least according to this theory. So, then the cell does know where it is in relation to the other cells; or doesn't it?

Let's put aside a discussion of whether or not there is a programmer and see just what kind of a program that would be, if all the shapes and contours of the body were determined by a program within the individual cells. First of all DNA, according to evolutionary biologists, codes for protein and enzyme manufacture alone. No matter what the sequence of manufactures, that would still result in content without shape. If there is a separate code that lets cells know where they are in relation to other cells there is not a word of this 'other' code in the scientific literature. But, if there were such a code, or such a program, it would of course have to be different for every cell. And this shaping would be done from the inside, not the outside. Michelangelo is commonly considered our greatest sculptor. His David, Moses, Jesus and Madonna are all incredibly lifelike. But he was dealing with an image, a plan in his mind that he sculpted from. He chipped away at a block of marble very carefully and lovingly, until what remained conformed to this image in his mind. A human baby is, of course, far more complicated than a sculpture. First of all, there are five trillion separate, moving parts (cells). Second, this sculpture is three dimensional. Not just the surface of the body, but all the internal organs, the villi, the dendrons and neurons, the cappillaries, the digestive organs and the skeleton must be sculpted as well. Is this done within the cell without any outside perception or overarching image of how it should turn out? How is this possible? It's not even that the shape of an individual cell is different. A muscle cell, a blood cell, a nerve cell, have the same shape as others of their kind. If a bone is curved, it is not the individual cells that are curved, they are way too small. It is the boundary where those thousands or millions of cells end and a new type of cell begins that creates the shape. So where is the program for all these boundaries? Could it possibly be within an individual cell? If it were, it would have to be exactly the same program in each of the replacement cells. For instance, if you get a cut, or a bruise, new cells grow to replace the damaged ones and occupy exactly the same space as the previous cells so that the surface of the skin has the identical contour as the original. How do these new cells travelling from other parts of the body wind up with exactly the same 'program' as the cells that they were replacing?And with all of this complexity, of five trillion moving parts that must be organized into shapes, that is only the first part of the problem. Don't forget that the body is constantly changing. The boundaries, both external and internal, are ceaselessly moving during the nine months of gestation, so that a fetus at two months hardly resembles the same fetus four months later. So this supposed program is not only governing the movement of all these cells, but it is adjusting the boundaries of these cells every day as millions of new cells are added on. And, certainly, birth is not the end of this process. A five trillion celled newborn eventually becomes a one hundred trillion celled adult, and at no time are these boundaries, external and internal, every achieving stability. They are always changing. This would have to be some amazingly brilliant programmer. But wait! According to Dawkins, et al. there is no programmer. All of this is being done by the cells themselves!

To discover anything about the shape of a living thing, we have to first admit that we don't really understand it at all. To say that 'it's programmed that way' is really an atheistic way of saying we don't understand a thing about it, but we want to give the impression that we do. A possible way to begin to understand how living things are shaped is through Eastern medicine and the philosophy that underlies it. Western science has had and still has a strange relationship with acupuncture, acupressure, shiatsu massage, and moxabustion. Initially, acupuncture was written off in the West as pure hoakum, and the beneficial results that millions of people attested to in China and Japan were considered a placebo effect, the result of a superstitious belief in it's efficacy. It was then discovered that for many years Asian veterinarians were sedating animals using acupuncture needles before operations. Even the most parochial members of the American Medical Association had a hard time writing off Fido and Mittens as self-deluded zealots. Nowadays, often begrudgingly, acupuncturists are allowed to work along side Western practicioners in the same offices and clinics. Yet, the underlying philosophy, the reason why acupuncture works, has not been deemed worthy of investigation by Western researchers.

As was mentioned in another post, Eastern philosophy comes from the understanding that the subtle creates the gross. Eastern medicine has been more interested in the field of energy that underlies the physical body. This form of life energy, or chi, flows through the body through twelve main pathways, called meridians. Disease and discomfort, from this point of view, is caused by the blocked flow of this energy, and health is restored by achieving a balanced flow through these pathways. Although this energy has not been measured on any equipment, it can be sensed by a trained and sensitive practitioner. All acupuncture practitioners do believe that there could be equipment capable of measuring chi, but that awaits the sufficient interest and will in the research community. The idea is that there are two forces, call them yin and yang, in and yo, or heaven and earth. When these two forces meet, whirlpools of energy are formed, like two opposing current meeting in a river. The body is the fleshed out physicalization of these twelve intersecting meridian spirals. You can see the spirallic formation in the way the embryonic arm folds into a hand, the leg folds into a foot, the spinal column folds into the brain, the digestive system folds into the intestine, and the whole trunk of the fetal body curls, in the womb, into the head. Again, the subtle creates the gross, so this electromagnetic energy pattern is there first, and the cells grow into and flesh out this pattern.

As was mentioned in an earlier post, DNA is God's channel changer. It codes for much more than protein manufacture. It codes for where in the cell this code will be translated into a string of amino acids; it codes for how that string of amino acids will be folded, with perhaps the addition of sugars and fats, into a protein molecule; it codes for where in the cell or outside of the cell, this protein molecule will be employed; and if this protein is involved in the structure of the body, it codes for the shape that that structure will take. At the moment, the great majority of the three billion nucleotides that make up the DNA in each and every one of the one hundred trillion cells of your body, is considered to be 'junk' DNA, because scientists have not, as yet, found a use for it.  It is considered to probably be a vestige of centuries and centuries of evolutionary mistakes.  Knowing that God is neither wasteful nor frivolous, and that there were really no evolutionary mistakes, (we humans, just celebrating our perhaps one hundred thousandth birthday on this planet, consider the dinosaur, who thrived here for one hundred sixty million years, to be an evolutionary mistake); that, in some way, the quality of our existence today, is built on the knowledge gained, the materials created and the progeny produced by all that preceded us; I suggest that there is a yet to be discovered purpose to each and every one of those three billion nucleotides and to the manner in which they are folded into the nucleus of each of our one hundred trillion cells. A valuable place to put your intellectual and financial resources, might be in the further study of this 'junk' DNA to see if it has any relationship to the shape of the body and to try and detect energy fields surrounding the developing embryo. Also, I suspect that the precise way in which the billions of genes are folded over and over into the nucleosome has a direct relationship to the eventual shape of the body. These are just conjectures, buy you can have no conjectures or hypothesis if you pretend that the unknown is known and that all the questions are answered.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment.

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