genes

Human Beings: Moral Agents or Victims of Genetic Heritage?

If lawmakers become diehard macroevolutionists, then they would surely believe that there is really not much essential difference between the nature of human beings and that of animals, and that human behavior is actually determined by genetics. How does this perspective affect justice? In 1994, Richard Mobley was tried for the crime of the murder of Domino’s 24 year-old Pizza store manager. The jury sentenced Mobley to death. But Mr. Mobley’s lawyers appealed the sentence to the state supreme court, arguing that Mr. Mobley’s genes predisposed him to violent criminal behavior: “His actions may not have been a product of total free will,” argued Daniel Summer, one of Mobley’s lawyers.1 Crimes in the Mobley family have “been going on for years – aunts, uncles, cousins, murder, rape, robbery, suicide, you name it.” The argument here is that Mobley had no control over his actions because of his genetic heritage!! As a result, he could not be held responsible for his actions since he was a victim of his genes. This kind of reasoning originates from belief in macroevolution. Against this backdrop, what chance does the intrinsic value of human life stand? Remember that macroevolution was first introduced in academia, the field that trains future lawmakers and other key societal leaders and professionals. Consequently, most of them interpret law from a macroevolution perspective in tandem with the positive law model, which rejects the laws of the Creator in preference of laws imposed by human governments.
As macroevolution gained ground, the Creator and what He stands for began to be jettisoned out of the public arena because the two are incompatible. Since then a series of events have been focused on rejecting God’s law. For example, the Supreme Court ruled that devotional prayer had no place in public school classes in 1962.2 Then the following year, the same court ruled against having devotional reading in classes. In 1973, the court scraped off the unborn child’s right to life. Seven years after this, the Ten Commandments were taken out of schools.3 Another seven years later, the court ruled that creation could not be taught side by side with evolution as it was being taught in schools. Macroevolution and evolution in general fast obtained a place on the pedestal as the referent point for societal values and laws.
At the heels of these changes, some scholars postulating evolution began to think they had sovereignty over the fate of human life, and became so bold as to attempt to redefine what constitutes personhood. Peter Singer, an Australian moral philosopher and Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University wrote in 1979 that “Human babies are not born self-aware or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons,” as such, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog or a chimpanzee.”4 Early in 1972, Michael Tooley made the startling statement that a human being “possesses a serious right to life only if it possesses the concept of a self as a continuing subject of experiences and other mental states, and believes that it is itself such a continuity.”5 Of course, infants do not possess these attributes yet. Another staggering proclamation was made by Jeffery Reiman when he declared that infants do not “possess in their own right a property that makes it wrong to kill them.”6 These are individuals touted as intellectuals who occupy positions of leadership of some sort in our societies. But they would think nothing of snuffing the lives of the most vulnerable among us!!

Against all these attacks on human life, the Word of God resolutely states that, “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you,” (Jeremiah 1:5).

Sources

1 Edward Felsenthal writing for the Wall Street Journal (November 15, 1994). Man’s Genes Made Him Kill, His Lawyers Claim. Accessed from http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mobley/RM95.TXT

2 Americans United for Separation of Church and State (2005). Prayer and the Public Schools: Religion, Education and Your Rights. Accessed from https://www.au.org/files/Prayer%20and%20the%20Public%20Schools%2006-11_2.pdf

3 The Supreme Court vs. Faith and the Bible. Article accessed from http://www.blowthetrumpet.org/CourtverseBible.htm

4 Scott Klusendorf (2015). Peter Singer’s Bold Defense of Infanticide. Accessed from http://www.equip.org/article/peter-singers-bold-defense-of-infanticide/#christian-books-1
5 Ibid.
6 Ibid

Read more about how God loves you: http://www.wmturls.com/pp

Your Specified Complexity, Is It By Chance?

The amazing thing about living organisms is their distinctive specified complexity, which is a type of orderliness carrying specific instructions and messages and functions within the organism. For example, the human cell is of such immense complexity it is mind bogglingly overwhelming. Inside this tiny structure is the DNA molecule, which is the building block of all organisms. It is like a biological library with hundreds of volumes of information store in its molecular system. A deeper examination of the DNA molecule reveals storage of information in four-letter format, the language of DNA: A, T, C, G-which stand for Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, and Guanine. The human genome has 3 billion of these letters or bases.
The four letters, A, T, C, G are also known as nucleotides. These letters are arranged into 64 3-letter words known as codons used to specify the 20 different types of amino acids used by living organisms. The 3-letter words are arranged in such a manner that they form sentence structures, known as genes.1 These genes are organized in sequential order to form equivalents of paragraphs of information known as operons. The operons or paragraphs are also arranged in chapter structures of information known as chromosomes. Finally, these chapters of information put together form a manuscript or an entire book which is the living organism itself. Such an exhibition of intellectuality can never be by chance.
Amazingly, the information found in a cell carries the same pattern of letters similar to that human beings utilize to deliver information to each other. To believe that this is a mere product of matter, time and chance is inconceivable, to say the least.
Talking about chance, read the part of satirical poem from the pen of Steve Turner below: 2

If chance be the Father of all flesh,
Disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
And when you hear
State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Bomb Blasts School!
It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.

Sources

1 Norman Geisler & Peter Bocchino (2001). Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith. Bethany House Publishers. Bloomington, Minnesota. pp. 127

2 Steve Turner, (English journalist), “Creed,” his satirical poem on the modern mind. Taken from Ravi Zacharias’ book Can Man live Without God? Pages 42-44

Epigenetics-We are What We Eat!!

Nutrition has always played a cardinal role in shaping our general health. Public health and other health professionals have consistently emphasized the need for good dietary habits to promote health and prevention of disease. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that researchers in these same fields postulate that epigenetic mechanisms can mediate between nutrient inputs and long-term phenotypic changes in human beings. These phenotypic changes also seem to account for ensuing biological changes associated with aging. Nutrients from the various foods that we consume can have a modifying influence on epigenetic events such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. Consequently, scientists have concluded that there is at least an indirect epigenetic link between what we eat and our health. If this is the case, then it is also safe to postulate that epigenetics can also alter longevity. Studies in animal models as well as human studies seem to support this hypothesis, according to claims by Niculescu and Lupu (2011), in their article, Nutritional Influence on Epigenetics and Effects on Longevity. Although nutrition is not the only determinant for longevity, it plays a significant role and we can only ignore its effects to our detriment. Interactions between genes and nutrients can regulate metabolic processes that can expedite pathogenesis or development of such diseases as obesity, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and other health conditions. Data supporting the knowledge of the effect of nutrients on epigenetic regulation of gene expression in organisms have increased over the years. For instance, fetal programming of epigenetic patterns have been found to be influenced by maternal nutritional choices. An interesting case involves use of synthetic folate supplementation. Synthetic folic acid use has traditionally been recommended by health care providers to mothers during conception for prevention of birth defects of the neural tube, orofacial clefts, and congenital heart defects. In the United States and Canada folic acid fortification of food has been introduced and promoted, widely. But synthetic folic acid supplementation during perinatal development has been found to be associated with epigenetic changes in the IGF2 gene of the baby. These changes can affect intrauterine programming, which is a deviation from patterns of normal development. This deviation increases the risk for development of diseases throughout the child’s life (Steegers-Theunissen, et al. 2009). Research findings claim that periconceptional folic acid use is associated with an increased risk of obstructive urinary tract defects, insulin resistance and colon cancer (Roberfroid et al., 2008). The altered epigenetic regulation of growth processes due to use of periconceptional folic acid has been linked to onset of myriad chronic diseases later in the life of the child. More research is ongoing to explore and assess the effects of a broader range of various nutrients on epigenetic modifications of various genes.

God gave ancient Israel specific dietary guidelines for spiritual purification, health-promotion and longevity. It is fascinating that, even in our day, those seeking healthy diets usually choose to subsist on kosher products, which are foods usually prepared according to biblical guidelines. Obviously, there is a need to revisit these eating rules afresh as expounded in Scripture. Maybe our need for synthetic supplements that alter epigenetic regulation will be reduced.

http://youtu.be/9TOcHIb8N5k

Epigenetics– Health and Spiritual Implications-Part II

The development of the behavior of a human being is shaped by the interplay among parental practices, dietary habits, cultural practices as well as congenital characteristics. A novel contributor to behavioral development has been identified by scientists in the form of epigenetic inheritance, which is a process of transmitting parental phenotypic responses caused by the challenges of their environment to subsequent generations, according to Lawrence V. Harper in his article, Epigenetic Inheritance and the Intergenerational Transfer of Experience. This transfer can happen even when the offspring themselves may not be directly exposed to the same environmental challenges their parents faced because although the genetic inheritance may not have been altered the expression of the genes has. For example, environmental challenges such as maternal exposure to stressful events during the late stage of a daughter’s gestation is likely to have an adverse effect on the physical development of the daughter as well as that of the daughter’s offspring. Genes and the environment tend to co-act in the behavioral development of an individual so that phenotypic adjustments to environmental events in one generation can result in alterations in the phenotype of the subsequent generation.

Alcohol abuse is an environmental factor which scientists claim is capable of altering epigenetic signatures and gene expression. According to research by Wong and associates even a short-term abuse of a substance such as alcohol has been found to produce long-term epigenetic alterations via DNA methylation as well as histone modification. Epigenetics alterations of gene expression, in such cases, further increase the craving for more alcohol abuse in future, which in turn, increases epigenetic changes. Sadly, exposures to substance abuse by one generation can influence and impact the following generation as well. A research report by Walden and associates in their article, Trajectories of Change in Adolescent Substance Use and Symptomatology: Impact of Paternal and Maternal Use Disorders, suggests that both “paternal and maternal drug use had an addictive effect on the offspring’s drug use trajectory…” What this means is that exposure to substance abuse fosters transmissible epigenetic changes which are passed on to the offspring’s behavioral and physiological development. Because of these findings many are calling for policy enactment and educational campaigns by public health professionals and allied health professionals to spread the awareness among the general public about the inter-generational impact of drug abuse during their adolescent and childbearing phases of life. In epigenetics we inherit more than genes from our parents.

Scripture teaches us that we have a responsibility to keep our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. The Bible also shows us that our personal choices do not only affect us, but that they have a ripple effect that can affect our offspring either positively or negatively. Our sinful indulgences have a tendency to visit our subsequent generations with adverse consequences unless until they are mitigated by the Blood of the Lamb (Romans 5:19).

http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/intro/

Epigenetics- Health and Spiritual Implications-Part I

Molecular biology has successfully espoused and propagated a concept that some scholars call “The Central Dogma” which is a genetic deterministic approach that postulates that the transfer of an organism’s biological information is unidirectional, meaning that the information flows only in one direction: DNAà RNAàProteins. The implication of such as theory is that all our biological constitution is driven by our genetic code, and that we are mere helpless recipients of the genes we have been endowed with. But with the advent and growth of the discipline of Epigenetics this view has been further scrutinized and has been found wanting. Epigenetics is the study of the heritable changes that affect gene expression or the phenotype of an organism. These changes are not caused by underlying gene sequence. Rather, they can come through the modification of DNA through a process known as methylation and also through the activity of histones. A lot of diseases that have anomalous or aberrant gene expression as their main cause can be traced to the way the DNA of the organism is packaged. They can also be linked to actions of enzymes such as histone deacetylases.

All of us have tumor suppressor genes that are capable of stopping cancer cells from growing. Every cell in our bodies has these genes. But proteins known as histones are also present in our cells. Sometimes these histones can bind themselves to the DNA so tightly that the DNA becomes “hidden from the view of the cell,” according to Dr. Jean-Pierre Issa of MD Anderson Cancer Center. If a tumor suppressor gene becomes hidden, it cannot have the ability to perform its function. What this means is that the histone hugging the DNA has managed to turn off the gene that is a cancer suppressor, so that the cancer cells can grow freely.

But God in His mercy, has provided certain interventions to mitigate this process. He has provided certain foods that can counter the action of histones. For example, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale and also garlic and onions happen to contain substances that are capable of inhibiting and countering histone activity, thus allowing the cancer suppressor genes to express themselves and perform their functions without hindrance. This is the reason why these foods are among the foods listed by the American Institute for Cancer Research as foods that protect against cancer. The more your diet is composed of these foods, the more your body is equipped to fight off cancerous tumors. This gives you a significant amount of power over the control of the expression of your genes. By adopting a healthy diet you can help release them to do their work effectively. Conversely, a high-fat, low-protein diet can modify epigenetic marks in a manner that can result in negative health outcomes extending to the next generation in both animal and human models. The Bible says “You shall eat no fat, whether from cattle, sheep or goats…” (Leviticus 7:23), and it also says “Whether you eat…do it all for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31). These laws are for our own benefit not for God’s benefit.

Check out this video clip on how epigenetics functions: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/intro/

Fasting Linked to Longevity

Everybody craves a long life. It is a universal desire. Nutritionists, dieticians, public health professionals and biomedical experts all have tips which they share with us about how to live longer. One such tip is fasting, intermittently. Scientists have conducted a plethora of studies both in animal models and human beings that have demonstrated that a strict diet is associated with a relatively longer life. The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the Federal Government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) claims that what you eat and how often you eat it can affect not only the quality of your life but the length of it. The results of the Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE) research study revealed that overweight participants who reduced their caloric consumption by 20% to 30% through a supervised type of fasting and calorie restriction were able to lower their fasting insulin levels and core body temperature. These changes are positively associated with longevity. The genes that are responsible for aging are concentrated in the fasting-induced upregulated genes, according to a separate 2013 study by Uno et. al. In this study, geneticists analyzed the promoter regions of selected genes as a way of identifying transcription factors responsible for fasting-induced transcriptional changes and thus intermittent-fasting induced longevity. The findings indicated that a significant portion of these genes began to be upregulated within a period of 6 to 9 hours of fasting. In a nutshell, the findings confirmed that the 48  hour fasting period had a greater capacity to extend life span than a 24 hour fasting.

In the Old Testament God commanded the nation of Israel to observe several fasting periods. In the New Testament fasting is neither forbidden nor commanded. Although they were not commanded to do so, most early Christians practiced prayer and fasting often. Jesus Himself confirmed that after His departure His disciples would find fasting a necessity. Fasting has been found to have both spiritual and medical benefits. God had not only our spiritual well-being in mind when he gave us instructions on how to conduct ourselves during our brief pilgrimage on earth. His counsel to us is for our own well-being and it stands firm forever.

  http://youtu.be/9TOcHIb8N5k