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.

Esther vs Evolution

Because of some recent discussions on evolution (on other blogs), I have been listening to a college course on evolution and Darwinism. Then, in our church’s weekly Bible study, we recently read through the book of Esther. As our class discussed the truths revealed in Esther, it struck me that it had something to say about the creation/evolution debate, even though that is not its subject matter.

If you haven’t read Esther recently, let me remind you  of the major details. Esther (or Hadassah) was a Jewish orphan in the Persian empire sometime after the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland (mid 5th century BC). Her cousin (or uncle), Mordecai, helped raise her. She became Queen of Persia after being chosen in an empire-wide Persian Idol competition for a new queen (except the king had the only vote). Following Mordecai’s advice, she does not reveal her ethnicity. Entering the scene is the villain, a court official named Haman, who is determined to destroy the Jews, especially this Mordecai who won’t bow down to him. He throws the dice (or the pur) to determine the date when this destruction will occur. Through a series of ironic twists and turns, Esther ends up defying the empire’s laws to intervene for her people, the Jews, and save the day. It is a story of courage and faith and is the basis for the Jewish holiday called Purim.

It is interesting that God’s name is never used in this book. However, His fingerprints of providence are all over it. It is His providence, not mere coincidence that:

  • Esther is chosen as queen and “happens” to be Jewish
  • Mordecai overturns an assassination plot the he “happens” to hear about at the gate
  • the king is saved from the assassination, but Mordecai is not initially rewarded or recognized
  • the king “happens” to have trouble sleeping and is read the account of Mordecai’s deeds
  • Esther “happens” to have great favor with the king, even though he banished his previous queen
  • the king “happens” to return when Haman is threatening Esther

None of this is happenstance.  While Haman rolls the dice and trusts in chance (and himself), Mordecai and Esther trust in the God who sees and intervenes. This is why Esther is correctly included in the Scriptures, despite having no explicit reference to God.

Is this dichotomy any different than the creation/evolution debate today? Creationists and evolutionists look at the same evidence in the living beings around the world. But they interpret it very differently. Classic Darwinism teaches that evolution occurs when blind chance (or random mutation) changes a species to have a new trait that makes it more fit to survive. There is no Creator involved in “natural selection;” it just happens.  And the result (over an extraordinarily long period of time) is the astounding variety and balance of life we have today, though I suspect the evolutionists are not that much astounded. After all, it is just blind chance. Evolution’s “nature” reveals no purpose or design, except procreation.

Spawning Salmon

The creationist looks at this diverse and beautiful world and recognizes the providential hand of the Creator. It is not mere chance and blind “selection” that could provide such a world. The woodpecker, for example, who needs a strong bill, a tongue that wraps through his head, and the muscles to allow for pecking is specially created for his role and environment. The salmon that  swims thousands of miles, including much upstream to spawn at the place of its birth, receives its instincts from a Creator. God’s name is written into the fabric of His creation, though many refuse to see it. This world reveals the majestic creativity of a Master Designer. And it demonstrates the taint of sin which has marred its original form. Thus, it cries out for redemption.

 

I’ll stick with Esther and the creationists on this one: God is the power behind the scenes of everything.