Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Maybe The Neanderthals Aren’t Dead After All

Last time we talked about Dr. Spencer Wells and his genetics work. He spent over ten years gathering human DNA samples from all over the world to show that the first man came from Africa about 60,000 years ago. He uses a marker in the Y chromosome that remains unchanged from father to son to help him determine human ancestry.
However, what we didn’t talk about was something that Dr. Wells found that is more applicable to who we are today. The genetic makeup of human beings from around the world is more alike than we think. Though humans have over three billion base pairs in 23 chromosomes, “…we're all incredibly similar. 99.9% identical at the genetic level.”

So, though we have green eyes or brown eyes, we come from Europe or South America, we are all related—99.9% related. That’s an extremely high percentage, isn’t it?

Does it make you pause and consider the implications for humanity? Does it encourage your mind to reflect on a God that designed us?

Christians, Jews and Muslims know there was a first father and mother, but science has muddied the waters and encouraged us to believe that the Bible is just a series of stories—stories about belief, not of reality. Jesus came along and reiterated what his Father had accomplished with the creation of man by telling us, “Love thy neighbor…” and “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers…”

The movement to keep science and faith separate is divisive as well as counterproductive. It is only when we take ALL evidence and put it together that we get the full picture. Science uses nature to deduce how the world works. That is only half the story. The Bible persuades us to remember that there is more than HOW there is a WHY. It beckons us to make sense of our purpose.

The cooperation of these two disciplines (yes, theology/faith is a discipline) will allow both sides to see the world differently. Science allows faith to see the miracle that the Earth is in a special place and the delicate balance that it maintains to support life. Faith allows science to question the meaning of why the Earth is here. You cannot fulfill your destiny as a human being without answering BOTH questions.

What would happen if we looked at science from a faith perspective? What if we looked at how molecules work and said, “Hmm, the way these molecules work reflects the love of God.” Perhaps we could find a cure for cancer if we looked at the problem from the eyes of our Creator. We could ask what is missing, versus how do we kill this. It’s all in the perspective.

Going back to Dr. Wells’ research, we see that in his discoveries of the origin of man he has discovered something that Christians already know. A reporter made the following comment to Dr. Wells, “You are very critical of racism.”

To that, Dr. Wells simply responded, “Yes. We are all much closely related than we ever expected. Racism is not only socially divisive, but also scientifically incorrect. We are all descendants of people who lived in Africa recently. We are all Africans under the skin."

Though Dr. Wells may believe he is keeping science separate from faith, he has just made Jesus’ case for why we are called to love our neighbor. I wonder if he recognizes that. I wonder if we recognize that.

Typically, we use the term Neanderthal to describe someone who does not see others as equals or when they refuse to use logic and forward thinking. While the DNA of the Neanderthal may be extinct, unfortunately they still exist.

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