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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What does Luca tell us about the nature of God?

It appears that the study of genetics has opened up some exciting possibilities about the origin of life on this planet. By comparing the genomes of living things from all three domains (Archea, Bacteria and Eukarya), a team of evolutionary biologists has determined a likely genetic blueprint for the "Last Universal Common Ancestor" (Luca). This is exciting because a common origin for the domains of life has heretofore eluded the scientists who study these things.

As with most other breakthroughs, however, the discovery has generated even more questions. Although they've determined that Luca probably arose about four billion years ago (when the earth was only 560 million years old), many scientists believe that the family tree stretches back further in time to even simpler organisms than this one. Moreover, the scientific community seems to still be divided into two camps about where life originated. One camp believes that pools of warm water on land were the most likely place of origin, while others speculate that deep sea vents provide the most likely scenario (Luca seems to point in that direction). You can read about all of this for yourself at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/26/science/last-universal-ancestor.html?_r=0

What does all of this tell us about God? For me, this article generated a few questions of my own and rekindled my interest in others that I've wondered about for many years:

Doesn't the nature of life suggest Someone or Something set it all in motion?
Since life began on this planet, what has its purpose been?
Hasn't life sought immortality?
Isn't the perpetuation of itself the preoccupation of life?
Isn't evolution the story of how life has adapted to changing circumstances/environments in order to assure its survival?
Is the survival of a particular organism or an entire species important to the survival of life?
On the other hand, haven't the contributions of individual organisms and species been essential to the survival of the whole (even the "failures")?
Why does life appear to be so fragile and yet has exhibited such tenaciousness?
Hasn't the evolution of certain branches of the family tree into very complex organisms (I'm thinking of things like us) made survival more probable?
Hasn't the development of consciousness and the ability to reason made survival more likely?
What happens to our ability to evolve when we are able to manipulate the genetic code?
Did Someone or Something anticipate the eventual development of these abilities?
Were we intended to accumulate knowledge and information so that life might finally achieve eternal self-perpetuation?
In other words, is life developing along a path that was anticipated by Someone or Something prior to that first spark?
Could it be that it was our destiny to ask questions and explore our world?
Isn't it interesting to think about that genetic code in terms of preserving the story of all living things - from the beginning?
And, if that's really the case, has anything ever really been lost?
Isn't it interesting to think about the fact that we are all the products of everything that has gone before us (I'm thinking literally now, not figuratively)?
Is instinct akin to collective or species memory?
Will it someday be possible to summon up the full story of our past?

The evidence doesn't present us with a picture of a hands-on God, one who is involved in the day to day operation of things (although I'm not discounting the occasional intervention). For the most part, life appears to have been on its own from the start. Meteors have crashed into the surface of the earth and obliterated vast numbers in an instant, organisms have killed and eaten each other for ages, disease and starvation have taken their toll, humans have killed each other and their co-inhabitants on this planet; but life endures. Does the story have an ending? Do we have anything to say about that ending? Just thinking out loud, but none of it seems very random to me. What about you?


  1. This is a good summary on an intriguing mystery.
    The NYT article highlights the problems/various theories.

  2. Origin of the cell in nature & lab?

  3. In the link I post, the quest is to find the genesis of the cell: One scientist goes "Ah,hah, proteins in a meteorite" but this is rather circular. My question is: 'which came first, the DNA or the cell?'. Then finally the host and a Harvard genius manufacture a ribosome by loading its long code string into a computer and executing the assembly of proteins to make one of these functioning intra-cellular nanobots - but aren't they like gods?

  4. Exactly, if we succeed in building our own cell, doesn't that make us creators? The host said it himself - a second genesis. If (when) we are able to duplicate the conditions extant when life began on earth (including the correct chemical recipe for the primordial soup), doesn't that make us master chemists? We seem to be ingenious at figuring out processes, but we never seem to get at the question of who/what set them in motion. Darwin pointed the way to understanding how life came to be so diverse. His was a scientific explanation about how the different species of life that inhabit this planet came to be - it did not address the question of how life began. By combining evolutionary and cellular science, we are getting closer to understanding how that (the beginning of life) might have happened. We don't need any gaps - there's still plenty of room for a Creator! What do you think?

  5. "Ye are gods unto whom the word of God came"