Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Human DNA and the Image of God

Last week we talked about the concept of humans being created in the image of God, and the week before we contemplated the concept of Jesus having DNA. What if we put those two ideas together?

Does that mean that God has DNA? Or is it a device that God used to show the complexity in which God created us?

Human DNA contains three billion base pairs of information. Why did God make our DNA so complex? Did it have to do with His creative process? Or does it reflect the complexity of God’s image?

While the human genome project was said to be “finished” a few years ago, the three billion base pairs have not been completely placed with regard into their respective genes. But every day we do hear that scientists have discovered genes that control everything from our tendencies towards cancer to our mental state of being.

What is interesting about this learning process is that some pieces in the strands of DNA have been labeled “Junk DNA”. Why is that?

Genetic data that scientists hypothesize is extra is called “Junk DNA”. But how do we know this is junk DNA? It is possible that our 3 billion base pairs define more than our physical aspects. Maybe that “Junk” really isn’t junk. Maybe it’s related to the aspects of us that go beyond the physical.

Humans enjoy a complex life. We have mind, body and spirit. Who’s to say what would happen if scientists decided that the “Junk DNA” could be eliminated. What would the repercussions of such experimentation be?

Recently an ABC article ( reported the potential “new technique” to create a human embryo from one father and two mothers. Scientists claim that using such therapeutic manipulation would allow the elimination of any hereditary diseases that might exist in the child. This particular article cited mitochondrial disease as an example.

But if this technique were to be used, what else is potentially lost in the process? We can’t even define all the human genes and their functions yet, so what is the likelihood of success with such an experimental process?

What if in the process of “fixing” a child’s DNA, we eliminated spiritual aspects of a person’s being? Are we tampering with what it means to be made in God’s image? All questions worth considering, don’t you think?

See you next week.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What Humans Look Like

Judaic and Christian traditions hold that human beings are created in God’s likeness—His image. Sometimes people only consider the physical aspect. In other words, people assume that God must look like us if we are created in His image.

However, I challenge you today to think of God’s image, and therefore our image, on a different plane. Genesis 1:27 reminds us of that, “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.”

Humans have the ability to reason, use their will and act physically on that will. In St. Thomas’s Summa Theologiae, the author expresses his view of man and the Trinity by saying, “That man is made in the image of God’s nature implies that all three persons of God are represented in him.”

This is how we are unique. We have a Trinitarian reflection. In each of us, we have the ability to reflect the qualities of God including love, patience, kindness, mercy and compassion. Corinthians 13:4-7 says it best. “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Sometimes we need to remember that if love has all these capabilities and we have the potential for all these capabilities, then since we are made in God’s image, these capabilities came from Him. How often do you remember that God loves you?

God is complex. We are complex. As is it for all of us, Loretta Oakes is a combination of body, mind and spirit. The physical aspect of me does not define me alone, nor does my mind define me, nor solely my spirit. However, the combination of the three, make a whole person and that is who Loretta Oakes is.

If we are made in God’s image, then God Himself must also be complex. It begs the reader to consider not putting God in a box.

See you next week.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Different Sort of Valentine

Jesus Christ took on the form of a human being. He constrained himself to the human form and all its limitations. Humans have DNA. Did Jesus have DNA? Of course. He had a physical body, so he had DNA.

Whose DNA did Jesus have? The New Testament tells us “…The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

In essence this means that the two parents of Jesus were Mary, his human mother, and God, His Heavenly Father. The implications of this for DNA are very interesting.

As humans, in our human nature, we know there are imperfections with regard to our DNA. But with the “DNA of God”, there would be no imperfections, if indeed there was such a thing.

One thing is certain; Jesus had a heart…a human heart. This heart beat in his chest from inside his mother’s womb, to the moment he died on the cross.

This week we celebrate Valentine’s Day here in the United States. The typical symbol for this day is a heart, albeit shaped differently than the one that beats inside us. But the heart represents the love that we share. Jesus’ love for all humanity took him to the cross.

His physical heart allowed his legs to move and his arms to carry the cross. His spiritual heart propelled him to love us from the cross.

According to the New Testament, after Jesus rose from the dead, he ascended to Heaven. Was his heart beating again?

One thing is for sure, Jesus’ love, never stops. If you’re looking for that perfect Valentine, then find Jesus. His heart—in whatever form—exists for you.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Water is Love Part 3

This week’s blog wraps up the three part series on water and all its different meanings from an unconventional perspective.

Today I want to give the gift of revealing the vastness of our Creator’s love, and the gentleness that accompanies it without losing my audience, so if you haven’t read either of my last two postings, start there. It will give you a greater understanding and allow you to enjoy this posting more.

Last week we looked at the tetrahedral structure of water with regard to the Judaic Tetragrammaton. The week before we looked at the structure of a single water molecule and the symbolism present with regard to the Christian Trinity.

This week I want to tie them together with Biblical stories from both the Old and New Testament that provide examples of the importance of water. Noah, Moses and Jonah all played significant roles in Judaic tradition and all of them experienced major life changes because of water.

Noah witnessed the “washing of the world” through water (Genesis 7:11-23). Moses held his arms up to part the Red Sea and lowered them to initiate the Egyptians’ fateful drowning (Exodus14:15-31). Jonah tried to ignore God’s call, but was caught in a terrible storm on the sea, thrown overboard and swallowed by a whale (Jonah 1 & 2).

The New Testament also contains examples where the importance of water is crucial to the meaning of the story. First and foremost is Jesus’ own baptism in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:13-17). But then there are many miracles associated with water including the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11)), the washing of the blind man’s eyes (John 1-7), the calming of the storm at sea (Matthew 8:23-27), walking on water (Matthew 14:24-33), and the special meeting with the Samaritan woman and Jesus’ expression of the “living water” (John 4:13-14).

Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman and said: “Everyone who drinks this water (from Jacob’s well) will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

Jesus is not the first to talk about living waters. Jeremiah also talks about the source of life in the following, “O hope of Israel, O Lord! All who forsake you shall be in disgrace...they have forsaken the source of living waters [the Lord]. (Jeremiah 17:13)

Further evidence is drawn from Jewish tradition that holds that the Torah (the Word of God) is called the living waters. They even have a special blessing when drinking water that is all encompassing: “Blessed art Thou, our Lord our God, King of the Universe, by whose word all things exist.”

Water is thoroughly intertwined with both Judaic and Christian Biblical tradition along with the symbolism that comes from the properties of a water molecule.

How do we apply these symbols to ourselves? Our bodies need water just as we need God. And as water washes away pain, so can God wash away our pain. God can heal us, just as water cleanses us. Through the symbol of water, our Creator loves us and cares for us daily.

So much to learn, so much to discover! May you never look at a glass of water the same way again!

One last note, I want to thank my dear friend, Dr. William Elefant, for all his help in maintaining the integrity of Judaic tradition that is presented here. Thank you!

Questions on information presented here? Just leave a comment and I’ll respond! Thank you!