Monday, March 4, 2013

Original Genetic Sin

Apparently, sin is genetic and nobody told me (via Slacktivist):

                This scientific picture of a group of early humans raises many questions, including particularly difficult ones related to the Fall. Plantinga and pastor Daniel Harrell both suggest a possible solution: perhaps Adam and Eve were two individuals within the group of early humans. This would preserve Adam as a real historical figure and the Fall as a real historical event. However, the spread of sin to the rest of the group is problematic, since it would take many generations to spread genetically through a population of thousands.
Personally, I find this to be a startling revelation. Just think for a minute about what the existence of an original sin gene (or, more likely, a sequence of genes, since rarely does a gene do anything by itself) means. Sin, then, becomes a little more than a genetic illness; it is something that can be treated. It is something that can be screened at birth, and removed from the human genome. The human species is capable of removing sin, then, and transitioning to a new, sin-free existence in much the same way that it would remove all other illnesses.

Perhaps there is just the tiniest amount of truth in this, surprisingly enough, but it's coming close to a workable answer (that requires a lot of polishing) while going about it in the absolutely wrong manner; it's like solving 2+2 with 5, and going about it as such: 2+1 - 2 - 1 = 3 * 1 = 3 +2 = 5. You're pulling figures out of your posterior, making it up as you go, and eventually coming to a conclusion that's removed from the realm of being correct. But if we consider original sin to include death, and the sequence that leads up to death (which I've heard some people say is the case), then this statement is, surprisingly enough, at least a quarter true. Our genetics contain the keys to our lifespans; these things called telomeres at the end of your genes, which short every time the gene divides with the cell it's in, determine how long your cells last and, by extension, how long you last. So if you include death into the "original sin" label, then that part of original sin is definitely genetic.

Now, here's a good example of the incomplete nature of Evangelical Apologetic thinking: if sin has a material cause, then is it possible to manipulate it? If not, why? Think about what we could do:
  • We could screen for sin at conception just like we do other genetic disorders and deformities and remove it from the genetic pool. 
  • We could manipulate the sin gene, setting it so that it's switched "off". If the gene sequence defining sin is switched "off", what happens?
  • Since it interacts with every generation, ever, it's neither a dominate nor a recessive gene, but it'd have to be something entirely different, like the gene sequences that determine your skin (not skin color, the fact that you have skin), or the fact that you have eyes, four limbs, or something of that manner. Maybe we could experiment with the nature of this "sin gene" and develop other genes that are just like it, which can help control behavior on the same level that we have complex gene patterns that control the fact that we grown skin and the organs we do grow.
    Just like there are fetuses who are born without heads or fetuses who are born without limbs or legs, then, it follows that there are also fetuses out there who are born without sin, since the sin gene failed to trigger. Of maybe the sin gene never fails to trigger. That would lead to phenomenal insights into how genes trigger and how they do, and perhaps allow us to piece together why the sin gene never fails to trigger and then export that pattern to other genes, as well.
  • If the sin gene is responsible for self awareness, then we could take it and, through vertical gene transfer, put it into other animals, giving them self-awareness too. What happens if this happens on accident, as vertical gene transfer is apt to do in nature? Can bacteria be fallen - will that bacteria become intelligent?
  • I can recreate computerized versions of genes, or we will be able to. If we recreate a computerized version of the sin gene sequence, will the computer doing so become fallen, too?
  • Before the decade is out, we will have genetic treatments to postpone death, and anti-aging treatments. Immortality treatments may come before the end of the century, and eventually, true biological immortality will follow. We can defeat death, and if you're going to narrowly define the "original sin" present in the genome as the existence of telomeres that determine when we die, then we'll end up defeating "original sin" in the long run, too. 
This is another example of lazy Evangelical-Creationist apologetics. None of these implications were thought through; they're desperately looking for the ever smaller holes to cram their God into. We have the entire gene sequence of not just humans but also Neanderthals, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and bonobos mapped out, along with other plants, fungi, eukaryotic genomes and a mass of animals that include cats, dogs, dolphins and elephants. We did not find a "sin" gene sequence, because it does not exist. It's fantastic god magic that deserves derision for being as foolish and arrogant as it is. It's also remarkably lazy, since I was able to find all of this information by just typing in "animal genome project" into Google and pressing "go."

Molecular genetics is a surefire way to destroy creationism. There's no way it can survive what discoveries that molecular genetics finds; but then, we didn't need molecular genetics to destroy creationism. A little creative but thorough thinking and Google is more than enough to do that.

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