We get personalized info on the web, personalized service at stores we frequent, personalized music lists on apps and iPods: why not get personalized medicine? George Church looks to do exactly that. Dr. Church has helped develop the automating of gene-sequencing, something that heralds great advances in the treatment of all manner of things in our lives.
Instead of just one changed gene in a DNA strand, Church looks to fashion ways to change multiple genes. For a man fascinated with machines and computers much of his life, he tries to fuse this mechanical and electrical work to the organic processes of life.
One end of this technology is tailored medical treatments to fit a person’s particular genetic traits. It’s more than eye color or height, he’s looking use his sequencing work handle complex things like disease histories and personalities. An individual’s sicknesses can be “cured,” and even future medical problems possibly predicted.
Amazing. Several years ago, as I read this article from Discover Magazine, March 2010 (“The Picasso of DNA”), I thought, “Amazing.”
The more I read, though, the more troubled I became. He and his team are manipulating the very constructs of life. The article almost read like, “Oh, yeah, I fixed the plumbing the other day,” rather than reading like “This is beyond unbelievable, this is the stuff of unimagined futures.”
At the very end of the article, the reviewer dared to ask if Church thought his work might be sacrilegious. Church’s statement was startlingly simple: “I wouldn’t say sacrilegious,” Church responds, “humans have been manipulating humans in many ways for many years.” Whoops.
I think what’s really amazing to me is that guys like this routinely stare into the ultimate Creative Force, namely God, every day, but they somehow manage not to see God. They stare into the eyeball of God but can’t really see him. They enjoy this wonderful gift of discovering and learning, but labor under this curse of blindness.
we don’t need God any more
I remember reading a story once about some scientists who decide they don’t really need God any more because they have advanced so far; they can even “create” a human being. They inform God of their work, and God offers them a challenge: God will create a human and they will create a human.
The primary scientist accepts, and he moves to get ready. “Just let me get a little of this dirt,” he says to God.
God replies, “No, no, get your own dirt.”
Truth is, we don’t have anything that wasn’t given to us. Nothing. We don’t have to be world-class scientists to miss this truth. We can be just everyday people, trying to move through this life. All we have to say is things like, “I did this,” “I worked for this,” “I made this,” or “Mine.”
Psalm 139 helps us understand where the dirt originates: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”
may we truly see God
We sometimes have a hard time looking into the eyes of God with all the amazing people and things in our lives and really seeing God; we struggle in really seeing the One who created all this, from the jeans on our bodies to the genes in our cells. The great gift is that God really wants us to see, to be daring enough to look him in the eye.
May we see God in every stitch of every piece of fabric in our lives because God surely sees us.
A text for the table: Psalm 139.