Life from a laptop
A Christian Science perspective.
It was, according to some, the long-awaited Frankenstein moment. Biologists and futurologists have for decades anticipated the creating of life-forms that, unlike all other life-forms since the Big Bang, have no parents.
A team of geneticists has now crossed that threshold and produced the “first-ever man-made microorganism,” with DNA designed on a computer. They call her Synthia. The commentary she triggered runs the gamut from the trumpeting of unprecedented hope, to the sounding of alarms announcing apocalyptic horror.
Why? Consider the possibilities.
On the upside, scientists may, in the not-too-distant future, design organisms to feed the world, to fuel its transportation systems, to purify drinking water, maybe even to gobble up toxic waste left from an oil spill. On the downside, a terrorist, armed with nothing more than a laptop and a few easily accessible chemicals, might produce a virus far more lethal and far more unstoppable than any weapon of mass destruction we now struggle to contain.
Yes, experts really do see the promise and the peril as that extreme, that hopeful, that horrific.
What to do? To chart a safe and sane course to the future may involve first turning to the past. The Bible teaches, “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?” (Mal. 2:10).
View this as the poetic musing of a long-ago religionist, and you have little that is useful. See it as the Word of God, alive with divine power, and you tap into the spiritual reality that there is only one Creator and only one creation. Only one. That creation is entirely spiritual. Entirely Godlike. Capable solely of good.
That’s not to suggest that the kind of research and development that led to Synthia should be banned. (As a practical matter, it obviously couldn’t be – the genie is out of the bottle and not going back in.) But the one Father-Mother, God, understood, anchors creation, including us, in the spiritual reality of who or what is the ultimate determiner – and who or what is not. Spirit is; matter is not.
This is plain to Christly consciousness. This is the consciousness that shattered the limits of matter, feeding a hungry multitude with only minimal resources, causing a perfectly fleshed-out hand to appear where moments before there had been only a withered one, and walking on water as if it were solid as earth. These proofs, all from the ministry of Christ Jesus, utterly defied the so-called laws of matter. They underscored the spiritual nature of creation, the spiritual nature of true life, and the spiritual laws to which it is subject. They underscored the irresistible power of divine good.
The “laws” of material life simply withered in the presence of the Christ. They wither today in the presence of Christly consciousness. Every day, people see practical evidence, healing proofs of Spirit’s goodness, in the world around them. The consciousness that, in Bible times, realized those proofs of God’s power is the consciousness that can realize them today. It’s the consciousness that can chart that safe course to a sane future.
We will have whatever help we need to succeed at this. The Science of the Christ maps out the course for us. It discloses the spiritual reality of Life, and explains why the future can be one of healing, not of horror. The spiritual reality of God’s designing has no downside. It has an upside of measureless promise.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the Science of the Christ and founded the Monitor, referred to the Life that is born of God. Evil is an impossibility to this Life. She wrote, “Christ is the Truth and Life born of God – born of Spirit and not of matter” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 261). Consider the possibilities. Every glimpse of the nonmaterial nature of life, of true spiritual life, nudges human thought in a problem-solving direction. As spiritual searchers today open themselves to this promise, the needed solutions for today’s concerns begin to appear. The real question is not, What can a microorganism be manipulated to do? It is, How can we realize Life born of God more fully? How can we emulate Christ Jesus’ example more faithfully?
The more leavened perception of life, of the Life born of the Divine, lifts the collective consciousness – the thought of those who pray as well as the thought of those who don’t. As this continues, threats become more manageable, less formidable. Good answers come into view. A safer world follows.
Adapted from an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.