Beyond DNA

A Christian Science perspective.

Every few months, or more often, there's a report that researchers have identified a gene as the potential indicator of proclivity toward disease or a potential clue in the study of disease. Research of this type is one of the byproducts of the Human Genome Project, a 13-year effort in which at least 18 countries have participated.

Like most other major projects, the research claims to offer benefits, including increased understanding of disease and how it operates. There are also those who see negatives such as the invasion of privacy through the collection of DNA samples or gene testing by a potential employer. These activities have a direct impact on individuals who may be denied medical benefits. Such tests can also suggest to parents of a newborn child that there is a genetic defect that will cause problems as the child gets older.

In essence, these outcomes present a form of genetic predestination. Although some experts admit that the proclivities aren't determinative, the shadow of disease or other trouble can hang over an individual, practically from birth, along with all the uncertainty that goes with it.

Such thinking would also reduce qualities such as endurance, strength, mental self-discipline, love, hope, to the outcome of a merely material circumstance. Mary Baker Eddy, a keen watcher of the science of evolution, which emerged during her lifetime, saw even further implications, and noted them in her textbook on Christian healing, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Material evolution implies that the great First Cause must become material, and afterwards must either return to Mind or go down into dust and nothingness" (p. 547).

Genetic predestination rests on the assumption that creation is material, that man and woman were imperfect from the beginning, and that God is powerless to help them. The story is just dressed up in more modern clothes than the ones Adam and Eve made for themselves after they had eaten the apple in the Garden of Eden. And the definition of man as genetic is no more valid than their story. "In the beginning," says the Bible, God was the Creator-Spirit, the one who made all out of His own spiritual substance (see Gen., chap. 1). There was no debate about whose creation this was. There were no gradations of quality or being – all was pure Spirit, perfect, beautiful, and complete.

Next up, however, is the well-known triangle of Adam, Eve, and the serpent. Here, man is first made of the dust of the ground – reducing Deity to reliance on clay as His building material – and woman is born of Adam's rib. Was she genetically inclined to listen to serpents? We'll never know the truth about this mythical woman. Later, Cain, their first-born son, murders his brother Abel out of jealousy. This was definitely not evidence of the creation that God described as "very good." But since there were no destructive elements in what God made, it has to follow that the only place in which DNA can have any relevance is within this material, mortal creation.

The man and woman God created have never been within that material realm. Humanity's inheritance is pure Spirit, perfect and eternal. John's Gospel makes this clear in its report on a debate Jesus had with Jews who took refuge in their relation to their illustrious ancestor Abraham, saying, "We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man" (8:33). They didn't realize that by claiming a material inheritance, they were accepting the negatives as well as the positives that went with it.

Jesus, however, removed himself from that mortal realm when he told them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). He knew God was his Father – and that all people could be truly free when they understood this to be also true about themselves.

Jesus' clarity on the subject was essential to his healing ministry. It is a clarity that can lift each individual above the material scene, where disease and decay are built in, before a child is even out of the starting gate.

"The true theory of the universe, including man," wrote Mrs. Eddy, "is not in material history but in spiritual development. Inspired thought relinquishes a material, sensual, and mortal theory of the universe, and adopts the spiritual and immortal" (p. 547). This inspired thought reveals that we are created free of proclivities toward disease, and that nothing unlike our Creator can be part of our, or anyone's, inheritance. Right now, each of us is as pure and holy as we were at that first moment of creation, when God declared everything "very good."

From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.

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