Not So Fast, My Mito-Replacing Friend

A year ago, I wrote about a controversial three-parent IVF technique intended to avoid mitochondrial disease. I argued that it is both medically unsound and an affront to God, the Author of Life. Many folks disagree with both positions. Some scientists, however, are coming around to my position – at least on the medical side.

Three biologists published an opinion piece in a recent edition of the journal Science (summarized here). They argue that government agencies (especially in the UK) should not be rushing to clinical trials of mitochondrial replacement. The macque monkeys in the original trial have not yet reached adulthood. They suggest at least waiting to see if any problems develop. Their concern? Just as I mentioned last year, the interaction between mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA is not fully understood. Mitochondrial replacement may actually cause unanticipated issues.

Now, these scientists do not agree with my theological position. Of course, their identification as evolutionary biologists reveals that we have many differences in our views of this world. While I think MR should be abandoned, they still find the technique promising and important. It just is not ready for a “leap of faith.”  I suggest that these scientists have taken their own leap of faith in accepting evolution as the cause for the beautiful complexity of life. They should reconsider the reasonable evidence for an intentional and artistic Creator.

5 thoughts on “Not So Fast, My Mito-Replacing Friend

  1. agnophilo says:

    So god wants babies to die of mitochondrial disease? By your logic how is all of medical science not an affront to god? In fact, what is your logic exactly? You haven’t really given an argument so much as just scoffed at the idea.

  2. Chris Gorton says:

    Agnophilo, I suspect what Durt is thinking is an affront to God is the “three parent” idea. His own struggles with the challenge of caring for and loving a child with mitochondrial disease puts the lie to your insensitive comment. The recognition that some scientific methodologies may be immoral scarcely indicates a rejection science itself. It is more to the point that critiques such as yours may indicate a rejection of the very concept of morality. I may be misunderstanding you, but you seem to think that a moral critique of science constitutes its rejection. Please correct me if I am in error.

    • Sean Durity says:

      Chris, you said it very well. Thank you. Let’s be clear – the procedure in question is not for curing people who already have a mitochondrial disease. It is for “creating” people who won’t. The scientific truth, though, is that this is not a guarantee. Mitochondrial diseases are not all passed from mom to child – even when the mom has a known mtDNA problem. And, as above, the procedure may create more problems because we don’t understand all the interactions between mtDNA and nuclear DNA. There are other options for the potential users of this procedure, including adoption.

      As for the theological point, read my previous posts linked above. It is God who is the Author of Life. When we try to usurp that role, it is sin. If you don’t believe in God, certainly you will dismiss this. However, my starting point is that there is a God, revealed in Scripture (among other ways). Debates about the existence of God are interesting and important, but on this blog that argument is already decided.

  3. Sean,

    You are correct, my friend. First and foremost, there is a God without any doubt. To think that this grand universe just happened from a blast, well that thought takes more faith than knowing that there is a Designer behind it all.

    Secondly, I contend that people try reasoning God out of everything, but on the other hand, they try to blame God for everything when bad things occur. (You cannot have both.)

    People still believe that there aren’t any blessings that come with diseases and such. I am sure that you and Melanie would never wish this awful disease on anyone especially your own daughter, but I also know that God has taught you and many others about His great love though your experience.

    People are always trying to invent ways to get the bad out of society. It could almost be like an ethnic cleansing in a sense. Everyone must be perfectly healthy to be considered normal. Sometimes blessings come through the rain and storms of life.

    I’ve walked a brief journey through the wilderness of cancer when my Father died a couple of years ago from that disease. I would love to have him here with me, but that is just my own selfishness speaking. Dad is with Jesus now in Heaven. Whom am I to wish for him to come from a perfect world to an imperfect one?

    There are blessings in seeing God’s love poured out on you through such horrible times. There are blessings in knowing that God loves you more than you will ever know, but when you see God carrying you through the times when you cannot even walk on your own, your love for God grows exponentially.

    God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for His blessings when life is great and when life is not so good.

    God loves you! You are doing a fantastic job on your blogs. : )

    Keith : )

    • Sean Durity says:

      Thanks, Keith. It really is one of the miracles of God to see how He creates good from things intended for evil – for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. One day, evil will be no more. One day…

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