Argument Clinic: Christ’s DNA

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Have you ever seen Monty Python’s Argument Clinic sketch?

“Pardon me, is this the five-minute argument or the full half hour?”

In the spirit of arguing for amusement, I present what I hope will become a weekly staple…

The Argument Clinic!

…in which, I choose a random topic that has been bouncing about in my cerebral cortex and pick a fight with the interwebs. Heaven knows, I have plenty of material.

This weeks topic is Christ’s DNA.

I read a book some years ago called Blood of Heaven by Bill Myers in which Christ’s DNA is discovered on a scrap of fabric. The blood is then transplanted via bone marrow into the body of a murderer who escaped death row by allowing himself to become a lab rat. Following this premise, say we did find the DNA of Jesus somewhere. My question for the interwebs is this: would the DNA carry the essence of His divinity?

My first inclination was to say no. Why? Well, it’s DNA. DNA is physical and mortal. Something about that doesn’t jive with divinity. I contemplated this for awhile, mostly ignoring any theological implications and just arguing with myself about the science involved.

And then it hit me: Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. One could argue His DNA would have come at least in part from his mother Mary, but where did the other half of the strand come from? (On a related note, I have often wondered if our Savior looked different from His siblings since He wasn’t Joseph’s son.) You could also easily argue that Mary didn’t contribute any genetic material at all, and that Jesus was an entirely unique individual with genes never seen before or since. In that way, perhaps some of the essence of divinity would be imparted to the building blocks of Jesus’ cells.

But then I came back to how “He made Himself nothing…being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man.” He was totally God but totally man (ah, the paradox). God could have used normal old boring DNA with nothing fancy about it to give Himself human form. Then there’s the whole body-spirit thing, and the question of how to separate/join the two.

So… discuss! I’m inclined to think our Lord’s DNA was something never seen before or since, but I’m on the fence about the essence of His glory being imparted to genetic material.

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4 thoughts on “Argument Clinic: Christ’s DNA

  1. Reblogged this on JC Morrows and commented:
    I know this is an old argument, but I want to throw a couple of logs on the ashes. . . see if we can get a spark.

    First log) One glaringly obvious thing that I always wanted to point out to my biology teachers/professors in school (did only once – didn’t go over well):

    We ALL came from 2 people.

    Every single human on this planet could – if the records existed – trace their DNA back to Adam & Eve.

    That means every single possible gene combination would have to be in every single person’s DNA. . . somewhere – even though biologists tell us that’s impossible.

    Of course, Human DNA is so long and complex, that they need supercomputers just to analyze it in its entirety – and I can guarantee you they’re making a lot of assumptions when they do this.

    Which leads me to my second log: Scientists like to act. . . talk. . . think. . . that they know everything there is to know about science, but every few years they come out with a major discovery – that completely demolishes their previous conclusions. They just like to “sound like” they know everything about it.

  2. I know this is an old argument, but I want to throw a couple of logs on the ashes. . . see if we can get a spark.

    First log) One glaringly obvious thing that I always wanted to point out to my biology teachers/professors in school (did only once – didn’t go over well):

    We ALL came from 2 people.

    Every single human on this planet could – if the records existed – trace their DNA back to Adam & Eve.

    That means every single possible gene combination would have to be in every single person’s DNA. . . somewhere – even though biologists tell us that’s impossible.

    Of course, Human DNA is so long and complex, that they need supercomputers just to analyze it in its entirety – and I can guarantee you they’re making a lot of assumptions when they do this.

    Which leads me to my second log: Scientists like to act. . . talk. . . think. . . that they know everything there is to know about science, but every few years they come out with a major discovery – that completely demolishes their previous conclusions. They just like to “sound like” they know everything about it.

  3. Lindsay, I miss it too! That was so much fun! I was thinking exactly of that kind of thing when I wrote this. I was actually hoping my roomie would read this and argue with me because I’m sure she has something to say. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I agree that a donor recipient doesn’t take on the physical characteristics of the donor. The novel I was talking about implied that some part of Jesus’ goodness (for lack of a better word) was imparted to the guy who got His blood. I had a hard time with that. But I don’t pretend to know how deeply our spirit is intertwined with our physical body or how exactly Christ combined His divine nature and His physical body. I could see some kind of connection existing, but I’m not sure I could even speculate what it would look like.
    And in response to the transplant question, I think rejection would be far far more likely. One of those little quirks I think God would build into the system to keep us from doing stupid things.

  4. Lindsay C.

    I miss when you and your roomie lived down the hall from my roomie and me and we had discussions similar to this.

    I’m going to throw in my science nerd opinion, but not solve anything. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think the DNA would be solely the human aspect of Jesus. When there is a transplant of an organ or marrow, the recipient doesn’t all of the sudden start morphing into the physical features, much less personality traits or mannerisms of the donor. Who that person, either donor or recipient, is as a spiritual being is still the same. Jesus experienced life on earth as a human being, including experiencing pain, hunger, and thirst, as well as showing physical signs of living as a human, such as crying, sweating, bleeding, etc. But that was not all of who He was. His spirit was what made Him divine, not His DNA. I’m pretty sure there’s a logical fallacy in there somewhere, but as I said at the beginning, I don’t claim to have solved anything with it.

    To throw a few extra ideas out there, there have been cases where animals who don’t normally reproduce asexually actually do–look up parthenogenesis. Now, the only times I’ve ever heard of this happening are in reptiles, and I think all the offspring then contain solely the DNA of the mother and are therefore all female. I think. I’m no zoologist.

    Also, in the cases of animals in different kingdoms (i.e. mammals vs. prokaryotes), sometimes the DNA code is the same (A T G and C), yet the amino acids the codons in the DNA correspond to are different. This can also happen, but to a lesser extent I think, in more similarly categorized animals. For instance, lysine could be almost solely AAA in one organism, but AAG in another. Of course, this would have huge ramifications if there were differences in amino acid coding between two humans (whole systems mess up if one amino acid is different from what it should be), so this probably doesn’t work either. I’m just throwing some stuff out there, and I’d like to also mention as a disclaimer that it’s been a while since I’ve studied these two things specifically. ๐Ÿ™‚

    On another random note, if that bone marrow transplant were ever to be realistic, do you think there would there be a greater or lower chance of a rejection of the donation by the body’s immune system? Yeah, I’m a nerd.

    I’m just mentioning things as I’m thinking about them; I’m not considering the theological ramifications either. If I’ve said something that sounds heretical, you’ll just have to trust me when I say that I didn’t mean it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have a good evening!

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