Category Archives: God’s Design

I Just Don’t Have That Much Faith

I was sitting in the drive-thru lane at a fast food place today, when something caught my eye. Or I should say caught my ear. I had my car window down and I could hear a bird chirping. So, I starting looking around and finally saw the bird, sitting atop the menu sign, chirping away. After a moment, he flew away, swerving this way and that, until he was out my sight. Maybe, after viewing the menu, he realized no one should really be eating this stuff, and headed off somewhere else to look for food. Unfortunately, for the rest of us in line, we did not come to that conclusion.

But as I watched the bird, I once again was amazed at the wonder of God’s creation. By just watching a simple bird, there are so many facets of its existence that are astonishing. Watching them fly, if we really stop to observe it, is a marvel to behold. There are so many things that have to be exactly right for that to happen. Once again, it brought to mind what Scripture says:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.” Psalm 19:1-3  “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20

I have said this before, and will say it again. I am not a scientist. I know scientists, but I am not one. I have listened to scientists who deny the existence of God and the purposeful design of creation. I have listened to scientists who acknowledge the existence of God and His intentional creation of the universe and everything in it. None of them witnessed the beginning of life in the universe. Therefore, all of them have to take what they observe, both current and the remains of previous life, and make a determination or hypothesis about how it all came to be.

For those who deny the existence of God, I am not going to argue with you. You will use a lot of big words that I don’t understand. But I have listened to your arguments, and I don’t buy it. I can’t buy it. The more you talk, the more absurd it sounds to me. Your arguments against purposeful creation often have the opposite impact on me. The longer you speak, the more incomprehensibly impossible it seems that it could have taken place in the way that you propose. I just don’t have that much faith. You may say that I am mixing in religion or faith with science. Well, my friends, I say you are doing the exact same thing. And I think it takes far more faith to believe there is no God, than to say that no one is responsible for the universe in which we live.

Everything I see screams, “God, God, GOD!” I see design. I see purposefulness. I see care and provision. I see the fingerprints of a Creator and, if you are honest, I think you see it too. Or, at least, you once did. Maybe you have hardened your heart to the point where you can no longer see it. I pray that this is not the case.

For those who hold on in faith to the One Who designed and created the entire universe and each one of you, your trust and hope is not unfounded. Take refuge in the One Who cared so much for those He created, that He sent His Son to pay the penalty of our rebellion, in order to receive all who would come to Him in faith and trust.

As I close, I would like to quote from one of my favorite books, The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. The quote is from Puddleglum, who is one of my all-time favorite characters in a book. This quote takes place when Puddleglum and the children, from our world, are captured by the queen of the Underworld. She is trying to convince them that there is no such place as the Overworld and the land of Narnia.

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.” C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

And unlike the characters in The Silver Chair, who were trapped in the Underworld of darkness, we live with God’s creation in full sight. And it speaks of His glory and character, His eternal power and divine nature. And the more that science uncovers, the more it declares this truth. The universe declares that it has a Creator, and He is the Almighty God, regardless of what many will say. And this truth is far more appealing than the unintentional and purposeless view of the existence of the universe that many hold to be true.

Together for His glory…

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Here is a bonus blog entry for the week. I don’t normally deal in the realm of science because it not my field of expertise. However, I am fascinated the world and universe in which we live. I see the complexity and diversity of the creation and I am amazed by the work of God. I don’t care what many in our world say. I cannot look at our world and universe and see anything but the intricate design and majesty of God. God’s fingerprints are all over what we can see and even those things which are beyond our vision, both near and far or tiny and large.

This week, research results were published from the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) Consortium, which is an international collaboration of research groups funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). The goal of ENCODE is to build a comprehensive parts list of functional elements in the human genome.

Below, I have provided a series of quotes, in no particular order, from articles that I read about the findings they have released. There are no comments from me contained below. These are direct quotes from the articles. Following the quotes, I have provided links to the articles, in case you want to check them out for yourselves.

As you read through these comments, I pray that you will all be able to say, along with King David:

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16 ESV

Together for His glory…

Articles’ quotes:

A colossal international effort [ENCODE] has yielded the first comprehensive look at how our DNA works, an encyclopedia of information that will rewrite the textbooks and offer new insights into the biology of disease. For one thing, it may help explain why some people are more prone to common ailments such as high blood pressure and heart disease. The findings, reported Wednesday by more than 500 scientists, reveal extraordinarily complex networks that tell our genes what to do and when, with millions of on-off switches.

“What we learned from ENCODE is how complicated the human genome is, and the incredible choreography that is going on with the immense number of switches that are choreographing how genes are used,” Eric Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (which ran the nine-year-long ENCODE project), told reporters during a teleconference.

ENCODE’s scientists knew that certain regulatory mechanisms dictated when and where certain genes were expressed and in what amount in order to give rise to the diversity of cells and tissues that make up the human body, but even they were surprised by just how intricate the choreography turned out to be. “Most people are surprised that there is more DNA encoding regulatory control elements, or switch elements for genes, than for the genes themselves,” Michael Snyder, director of the center for genomics and personalized medicine at Stanford University and a member of the ENCODE team, told Healthland.

Junk. Barren. Non-functioning. Dark matter. That’s how scientists had described the 98% of human genome that lies between our 21,000 genes, ever since our DNA was first sequenced about a decade ago. The disappointment in those descriptors was intentional and palpable. The Human Genome Project finally determined the entire sequence of our DNA in 2001, researchers found that the 3 billion base pairs that comprised our mere 21,000 genes made up a paltry 2% of the entire genome. The rest, geneticists acknowledged with unconcealed embarrassment, was an apparent biological wasteland. But it turns out they were wrong. In an impressive series of more than 30 papers published in several journals, including Nature, Genome Research, Genome Biology, Science and Cell, scientists now report that these vast stretches of seeming “junk” DNA are actually the seat of crucial gene-controlling activity — changes that contribute to hundreds of common diseases.

Only about 1 percent of the genome codes for proteins, however, and the challenge has been to figure out the function of the other 99 percent, which for years was termed “junk DNA” because it did not code for proteins. The ENCODE scientists are biology’s version of the Occupy movement, said Mark Gerstein of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., who led one of the ENCODE teams: “For years everyone focused on the 1 percent. ENCODE looks at the 99 percent.” In examining the overlooked part of the genome, the ENCODE scientists discovered that about 80 percent of the DNA once dismissed as junk performs a biological function. Primarily, the not-so-junky DNA constitutes the most sophisticated control panel this side of NASA’s, with some 4 million bits of DNA controlling all the rest. “The ‘junk’ DNA, the 99 percent, is actually in charge of running the genes,” said Gerstein.

How complicated is the genetic regulatory system? There are nearly 4 million gene switches in the major human organs, with about 200,000 acting in any given kind of cell, such as in heart muscle. “Our genome is simply alive with switches: millions of places that determine whether a gene is switched on or off,” said Ewan Birney of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory-European Bioinformatics Institute and one of the leaders of ENCODE. Scientists also mapped more than 4 million sites where proteins bind to DNA to regulate genetic function, sort of like a switch. “We are finding way more switches than we were expecting,” Birney said. “It’s worth reminding ourselves that we are very, very complex machines,” Birney said. “It shouldn’t be so surprising that the instruction manual is really pretty fearsomely complicated.”

When the human genome was first sequenced, scientists were surprised that its structure—based on fewer-than-expected genes—seemed uncomplicated, said Chris Ponting, a professor of genomics at the University of Oxford who wasn’t involved in the latest research. “Encode shows us how extraordinarily decorated the genome is,” Dr. Ponting said.

Scientists have determined that there are 4 million sites in the genome where specific biochemical events occur, most of which have been discovered with ENCODE. That means if you got your genome sequenced, there could be as many as 4 million differences between you and the person sitting next to you, Michael Snyder, a Stanford University professor who is the principal investigator for ENCODE, told CNN.

Articles quoted:

http://healthland.time.com/2012/09/06/junk-dna-not-so-useless-after-all/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/05/human-genome-encode-dna-genes_n_1858281.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443589304577633560336453228.html?KEYWORDS=ENCODE

http://online.wsj.com/article/AP0f3aa6ed0d324d3cbe4109b4f5a3ebae.html?KEYWORDS=ENCODE

http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/05/health/encode-human-genome/index.html