“Our DNA, the instruction book of human creation, may well come to rival religious scripture as the keeper of the truth.” (James Watson, DNA: THE SECRET OF LIFE)
One of the extraordinary facts of life is that our DNA, which encodes all of the genetic information for human reproduction, is both a chemical process and a record of the history of humanity. For the secular scientist, DNA opens doors into the past evolution of humanity. For the believer in God, DNA does serve as another kind of scripture – for in that DNA is recorded what God has been working out with humanity for the continuation of the human race as well as for the salvation of the world.
Dr. Frances Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project and current director of the National Institutes for Health, is also a believer in God. Despite his being a notable and accomplished scientist, he has been criticized by some non-believers because he does not shy away from affirming his faith in God. In Collins book, THE LANGUAGE OF GOD, he notes that when the Human Genome Project finally sequenced the DNA of humans, there was a tremendous sense of scientific accomplishment in unlocking one of the hidden truths of nature. President Bill Clinton said of the accomplishment:
“Today, we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, and the wonder of God’s most divine and sacred gift.”
Collins himself characterized the scientific accomplishment in this way:
“It’s a happy day for the world. It is humbling for me, and awe-inspiring, to realize that we have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously known only to God.”
That nature itself can be read as another text speaking to us about God is an ancient idea. St. Paul writes:
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. (Romans 1:19-20)
Clearly visible in the created world is the characteristics of the Creator. The science of DNA however has unlocked some of the hidden revelation of God and brought this knowledge to the light. Recorded in the DNA is both the genetic code for reproducing humans and a history of humankind. The unveiling of the genetic code gives us further insight into what God has been working out for humanity. This genetic “scripture” has to be interpreted just as does the Bible. It opens to us a mystery and yet simultaneously reveals to us that what it means to be human is contained in mystery and only partly revealed in science.
See also my blog – DNA: The Secret of Life