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Genome Scientist Finds God

from the June 20, 2006 eNews issue

It has been just over fifty years since the discovery of DNA - a discovery which has radically transformed modern science and changed how many look at the origin of life. The Human Genome Project has mapped our entire genetic code, which consists of a sequence of over 3 billion chemical nucleotide bases. DNA research has lead to the discovery of genetic cures for diseases. It has also resulted in faster and more accurate diagnosis of diseases, and assisted doctors in developing customized treatment plans for patients.

Although scientists have learned a great deal about the human genome, the overwhelming majority of DNA remains a complete mystery. For all the new advances made in genetics, we are constantly discovering how complex the DNA really is and how much more we have to learn. According to Dr. Jerry Bergman, a professor of science at Northwest College, At the moment of conception, a fertilized human egg is about the size of a pinhead. Yet it contains information equivalent to about six billion chemical letters. This is enough information to fill 1000 books, 500 pages thick with print so small you would need a microscope to read it! If all the chemical letters in the human body were printed in books, it is estimated they would fill the Grand Canyon fifty times!

Scientists still do not know the exact number of genes, their exact locations, or their functions. Nor do they know much about gene regulation, DNA sequence regulation, Chromosomal structure and organization, or non-coding DNA. The list of things we have yet to learn about DNA goes on and on. What we do know about DNA is that it is a digital, error-correcting, and self-replicating code. Furthermore, within its complicated and elegant structure is held the blueprints of every living thing on the planet.

Francis S. Collins is has long been on the cutting edge of DNA research. He is the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute and oversaw the Human Genome Project - which some have called the most significant scientific undertaking of our time. What most people don't know about Francis Collins is that he used to be an atheist, but that his experiences have lead him to believe in the existence of God.

When Collins was practicing medicine he saw the faith displayed by some of his patients. Their strength in dire circumstances caused him to begin to ask questions. It was then, that a Methodist minister gave him a copy of the C.S. Lewis book titled Mere Christianity. The book opened his eyes to new possibilities, however the turning point in his life came while hiking in the mountains. It was the beauty of God's creation that finally broke his resistance. Today, Collins sees his research as a "glimpse at the workings of God". Although his beliefs are not without controversy, his story testifies to the fact that science and faith can co-exist.

According to Collins, "One of the great tragedies of our time is this impression that has been created that science and religion have to be at war. I dont see that as necessary at all and I think it is deeply disappointing that the shrill voices that occupy the extremes of this spectrum have dominated the stage for the past 20 years." Collins plans to share his experiences in a book, due out this summer, titled The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

Random chance cannot account for the complex design of DNA. It is statistically and mathematically impossible. In the last 30 years, a number of prominent scientists have attempted to calculate the odds that a free-living, single-celled organism, such as a bacterium, might result by the chance combining of preexistent building blocks. Harold Morowitz calculated the odds as one chance in 10100,000,000,000 (ten to the one hundred billionth power). Sir Fred Hoyle calculated the odds that just the proteins of an amoebae arising by chance as one chance in 1040,000 (ten to the forty thousandth power). The odds calculated by Morowitz and Hoyle are staggering. Think of it this way, the chances of winning the state lottery every week of your life from the age of 18 to 99 are better than the odds of a single-celled organism being formed by random chance. The probability of spontaneous generation is about the same as the probability that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard could assemble a 747 from the contents therein. It is impossible. The evidence all points to the unavoidable conclusion that we not the product of chance or evolution, but the result of intelligent design.


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