Journeying through our DNA

Professor Antony Flew has been described as one of the most influential atheists of the 20th century. He lectured philosophy in Oxford and several other universities. For decades he was a much respected defender and proponent of the non-existence of God. In 2004, however, Prof. Flew publicly renounced atheism. He famously shared his philosophical pilgrimage in ‘There’s a God: How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind.’[1] Prof. Flew affirmed that ‘years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.’[2] He has also stated that ‘a deity or a super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life or the complexity of nature.’[3]

The microscopic intricacies of our DNA may sound a small reason to change someone’s mind. Even more so if this person has maintained an atheist position for several decades, and was one of its foremost defenders. Yet the human DNA is more complex than we ever thought possible: if we stretched the DNA of a single cell, it would have nearly 1.8 meters. Now, if we were to link together the DNA of each one of the trillions and trillions of our body cells, it’d reach the moon and back thousands of times. That’s a long journey, isn’t it?

Until recent years, it was accepted that identical twins had identical DNA. Recent scientific studies, however, have demonstrated that identical twins have very similar, but not identical DNA.[4] The obvious conclusion is that there aren’t two physically identical people in the world. Each one of us is singular. Besides, we have particular personalities; we have unique ways of thinking; we have a set of desires, dreams, fears that is not shared by anyone else.

Geneticist Francis Collins, the director of the Human Genome Project, led the team which mapped the human DNA. His investigation of the minutiae of the human body made him express a wonder before the complexity of nature similar to that of Antony Flew. “The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. He can be worshipped in the cathedral or in the laboratory. His creation is majestic, awesome, intricate, and beautiful.”[5] With different language, a similar view was expressed by David, a musician, poet and ancient king, who wrote the following words to God: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”[6]

Christians believe that the reason why every person is fascinating and singular is because the hands of an incomparable potter have formed us. God himself planned and created the existence of humanity, as the beginning of the Bible affirms: ‘Then God said: “Let us make human beings […]” So God created human beings […].’[7] Before anyone of us, there was Someone. There are many of us, because Someone has always been.

I understand that there are many reasons why someone would argue that God does not exist. Yet the complexities of nature, the glories of earth, the immensity of outer space, and the careful design of the human body should, at least, make us ponder what originated our universe. I am glad that someone as established and prestigious as Dr. Flew was open to investigate the evidence and change his mind. We may study nature like he did and finish with a different opinion, surely. But hey, there is a fairly good chunk of DNA to go through.

Hélder Favarin

[2] See this interview with Antony Flew:
[5] Francis Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006), p. 211
[6] Psalm 139:13
[7] Genesis 1:26-27

One response to “Journeying through our DNA

  1. Pingback: Evolution explains everything | Wondering Fair·

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