Truth, Understanding, Insight

Bible, Science and History, with a focus on DNA

25th April 2017, hej


An article prompted by National DNA day April 25 celebrating the understanding of DNA.

When we view the world about us, we do so through a subjective viewpoint structured by education. The Bible will shape a person's viewpoint, to the extent they expose themselves to it with consistency and dedication. Nobody is without an influence of some sort that structures their viewpoint. Early influence may be critical, as studies of language and development show (ncbi, linguistics.ucla). The loss of language skill and ability to reason to was evident in a child found living with monkeys in Uttar Pradesh. For repeatable phenomena, however, there is an 'every-one's view', which is objective. The science and current debates relating to genetic tests exemplify the difference between knowledge of objective current phenomena and historical events.

The frame of knowledge was already evident in the Apostle Paul's day. He wrote to Timothy to avoid listening to 'empty sounding' kenophōnia and oppositions or conflicting theories falsely named as knowledge, or in Greek 'anthesis gnōsis pseudōnumos' (1 Tim 6:20). The Bible indicates there is a self evidently true, or objective, knowledge as Peter speaks of adding gnōsis 2 Peter 1:5-6. This may be understood in context as encouragement to Christians to seek all true knowledge, and it is not qualified. This knowledge must be substantive as Paul speaks disparagingly of an 'appearance or semblance of knowledge 'morphōsis gnōsis Romans 2:20. Therefore the frame of knowledge of the Apostolic era, requires knowledge to be substantive in an environment of anthesis pseudōnumos gnōsis , or pseudo theories.

Any discussion of the science of the origins of life now must be based on findings related to Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

The DNA contained within each of your cells carries the instructions needed to build and maintain the many different types of cells that make you, you. Researchers call this complete set of DNA instructions a “genome.” DNA variations are part of what makes each of us unique. They affect the color of your eyes, hair and skin. allaboutthehumangenomeproject

The structure of DNA is communicated and written as letters.

A DNA sequence that has been translated from life's chemical alphabet into our alphabet of written letters might look like this: AGTCCGCGAAT…
That is, in this particular piece of DNA, an adenine (A) is followed by a guanine (G), which is followed by a thymine (T), which in turn is followed by a cytosine (C), another cytosine (C), and so on. genomenewsnetwork

The Bible shows that the authors had an understanding that preceded and anticipated modern understanding by thousands of years.

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16)

This is not a lucky guess, as it is not written as speculation. The psalmist could only have known by revelation this essential aspect of objective discoverable reality. The tools for discovery were not available, as they are today, but there was knowledge of the principle. Moses shows the Jewish people understood people's code is written in God's book. When confronted by God wishing to consume the whole nation of Israel for their sin, Moses reveals his understanding,

“Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. (Exodus 32:32-33)

The implication is that our entire make-up, including our memory and our character, is capable of being written down and re-created. It is known already that one generations experience is written on the DNA inherited by the descendants (one example israelnationalnews)

How can we know what is possible, when what is known now by experiment is only approaching what was known 3,000 years ago?

The human genome DNA, provides a field of objective experimental evidence that everyone with even limited knowledge may experience for a small fee. After taking a saliva test, people are 'DNA matched' to others with portions of the same DNA markers (mutations or copy errors). They find that some that were thought of as relatives are not blood relatives. People may find that their ancestry back many generations can be confirmed by matching portions of another persons' DNA, or that their male linage to a well known person is proven or dis-proven. This knowledge about characteristics of human saliva in more nearly related people is objective, repeatable and has been incredibly reliable and successful in establishing current and historical relationships.

By contrast, any knowledge about human population origins is found in theories which are in continual flux, based on the patterns of where those are now living with DNA matching markers and comparisons with a few samples of ancient DNA. What is objectively evident, from everyone's view, from this DNA testing, is that over historical time there has been an increase in markers and characteristics in the human population. What is also evident is that, based on objective observation, every human goes back to one male and one female often known as ' Y-chromosonal Adam' 'Mitochondrial Eve', a view held even by those who would reject the Bible (livescience).

Research relating to DNA is structured by written documents of family lineages and known migrations. The avid researcher longs for documents that establish linages back at least hundreds of years. The most successful DNA projects are related to descendants of kings, clan chiefs or leaders who have written records not only of their lives, but of the lives of their descendants (An exemplar is Stewart and Stuart).

There are now millions of people actively seeking out historical family documents. Family history has many platforms, shared on the web. In addition they contain many shared accounts of events in their family history. All of these family histories share three things in common. Firstly, these histories are public because people are aware that their ancestors are also many other people's ancestors. Secondly, they have stopped at certain people only for want of earlier written documentation and lack of certain knowledge, but otherwise would keep going back in history. (A Physicist traces his ancestry to Mal Prince of the Drevlians 860, but Mal comes from obscurity). Thirdly, they are all shaped by written records of the individuals in a nation's history. Many of the individuals have little impact on a nation's history, but some are significant people.

The Bible has all of the elements of typical historical documents with many lineages, interspersed with accounts of events in peoples lives. It was the genealogy of Christ which convinced a Papua New Guinea tribe of the historical truth of the Bible ( The Bible is clear from the first books that a traditions was to be established of keeping the national history.

Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons; (Deur 4:9)

Many a history researcher ruefully knows the truth of the objective observation of Solomon,

For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool. (Ecc 2:16)

Moses wrote the events of the nation down so they would not be forgotten, and also made a comment that the people remember.

Remember, and forget not, how thou provoke the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD.(Deut. 9:7)

In addition to remembering they were to teach their children of their history.

Only take heed to yourself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life: but teach them to your sons, and sons' sons; (Deut. 4:9)

In addition each year on the anniversary of the exodus they were to teach the next generation,

It shall be when your son asks thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that you shall say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:(Exodus 13:14)

In addition each year at the time of harvest every person was to recite a summary of the history of their national beginning.

That thou shall take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shall bring of thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shall put it in a basket, and shall go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there. And thou shall go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him,

“I profess this day unto the LORD thy God, that I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us. And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the LORD thy God. And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression: And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: And he has brought us into this place, and has given us this land, even a land that flows with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me.” (Deut. 26:2-10)

Much of the Bible is history. The gospels are mostly eyewitness accounts, with John's being wholly his own, and Luke's being collected accounts.

This is the disciple which testifies of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. (John 21:24)
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. (Luke 1:1-4)

The apostle John makes it clear that no one can remember all things, but he wrote what he believed were the important things he witnessed and heard,

Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.(John 20:30-31)

John makes the important connection that Moses also makes, that if anything is to be remembered it must be written down in a book.

If we look at the Bible from a frame limited and structured by modern science, we might also expect the book should contain references to such things as how to observe the weather, planting grain crops and the skills of sheep herding. These fields of scientific endeavour are essential to a nation's prosperity. Australia for instance with the CSIRO and BOM has significant research dedicated to these scientific fields. All the fields of human study and observation from how to grow crops to how to send people to Mars have been, and are freely available, to anyone to find at any time. They rest on repeatable experiment and cumulative current skills and knowledge. No book could possibly contain all this knowledge.

However no amount of observation of the world about us can show us our history. Many look in vain to find any document that may hint at the identity of their ancestors, let alone their actions, as seen in many message boards (rootsweb, genforum, Ancestry boards). There are places where historical documents show a community of people lived, yet there is now no visible trace of them (Goldfield towns such as Woolshed Victoria). In terms of national history, that of the Vikings is remarkable for what is not known, though the Viking era is more recent that the Romans and Ancient Egyptians (BBC Viking Evidence More is known of Vikings from what their enemies, who wrote of them( vikingeskibsmuseet). The Bible is a record made by generations of diligent educated people over thousands of years, and therefore contains non repeatable historical events we could not find out otherwise. The Bible as a document therefore, must be viewed always in this context.

The whole field of human knowledge may readily be divided into two areas: that of repeatable phenomena and that of historical phenomena. The body of knowledge of the lives of the people involved in the development of DNA testing, is very different to the body of knowledge regarding the use of DNA. If all texts in the world were lost, the understanding of the nature and use of DNA may be found again, whereas the knowledge of the lives of those who found it would be lost forever. For this reason alone the texts with historical facts, such as the Bible, ought therefore be given much more value than those regarding observations of repeatable phenomena.

There is clarity and intellectual rigour in differentiating between the observation of repeatable everyday phenomena and the very different kind of observation relating to unique historical events. The investigation of the structures of existing DNA and correlations to current phenomena, is very different to discussion of how people are connected who have the same DNA markers. The first type of investigation may yield clear repeatable results, the second is a discussion related to history, which relies on documents, and, lacking those documents, untested and un-testable theory. Any observations of life now may be repeated, but any discussion of the origins of life is in the field of human history. It relies on the veracity of the documents and records that have survived. A frame for an observationally rigorous view of the origins of all human life today, is the frame of our personal ancestry going back into time and how that fits into the history of the people of all nations. All else is, as the Apostle Paul observed, anthesis gnōsis pseudōnumos.

Solomon in his investigation of the elements of life makes the ultimate observation,

Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?(Ecclesiastes 3:22)

The origins of life are in history, which we can look back to, but how can we know the future of all life? - for that only the Bible has an answer.