GENE EDITING: “MAKING PERMANENT CHANGES IN THE HUMAN RACE”
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GENE EDITING: “MAKING PERMANENT CHANGES IN THE HUMAN RACE”
Resurrected mammoths, genetically-modified mosquitoes, designer babies, and transplantable animal organs–these are just a few of the things that are possible through a new technology known as CRISPR-Cas9. This “coded” word has been all the buzz in the medical community for years now. Pronounced “crisper” for short, this revolutionary gene editing technology has been touted as the “holy grail of gene manipulation” for its potential to “bend nature,” “forever alter the genetic composition of mankind,” and “rewrite the code of life.” Read on.
CRISPR stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.” These repeats are found in the DNA of bacteria. More specifically, they are copies of small pieces of viruses. Bacteria will use these copies to keep track of “bad viruses” so they can identify and target them later. Many scientists call these copies “mug shots” because the features, design, and anatomy of the virus will be stored in the bacteria’s memory.
According to an article in Massive Science, CRISPR works by “snipping off a piece of the virus and sticking it into a specific part of its own bacterial genome that then works as a mugshot, allowing bacteria to recognize the virus if it tries to strike again.” CRISPR-associated Cas9 enzymes are remarkable because they are able to chop up DNA. Bacteria will send in the Cas9 enzyme to cut up invading viruses. In essence, it acts like a pair of “molecular scissors” as it cuts strands of DNA. As Live Science explains, “When these components are transferred into other, more complex organisms, it allows for the manipulation of genes, or editing.”
In 2012, scientists Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were the first to propose that CRISPR-Cas9 could be used for “programmable editing of genomes.” In October 2020, both women received the Nobel Peace Prize in Chemistry for their discovery. Since 2012, science has entered a whole new realm, as the possibilities of this new technology are being explored on a grand scale.
CRISPR-Cas9 is now being applied to the human genome. Scientists can cut open slots in the genome and insert their own sequences, allowing for targeted, precise changes to DNA. “A genome is an organism’s complete set of genetic information. A genome includes all of the hereditary instructions for creating and maintaining life, as well as instructions for reproduction” (Healio.com). Remarkably, in humans, a copy of the entire genome, which includes more than 3 billion DNA base pairs, is contained in all cells that have a nucleus.
With new CRISPR gene editing tools, scientists are able to pinpoint and change the genomic DNA of humans in precise ways. They believe this technology has the potential for curing cancer and genetic disorders, as well as eradicating diseases such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Huntington’s Disease and more. In particular, CRISPR is being considered in the fight against AIDS because it can cut the DNA of the HIV virus out of its “hiding place” in a patient’s immune cells. CRISPR technology has been used in countries like China to edit human embryos, in an effort to make them more resistant to HIV. Unfortunately, as the medical community experiments with this technology, they are finding out there can be serious consequences when it comes to editing the genome, such as unintended mutations or “accidental” deletions of DNA.
As Christians, it is quite concerning to realize that this technology has the potential to change what God has already designed. While scientists praise the possibility of curing diseases, there is also the realization that man is “cutting and snipping” the blueprint of life.
In March of 2021, NPR posted an article titled CRISPR Scientist’s Biography Explores Ethics of Rewriting the Code of Life, which featured an interview with former editor of Time Magazine, Walter Isaacson. The interview highlighted CRISPR-Cas9 and its gene editing capabilities, as well as Isaacson’s new book, called The Code Breaker. It explores the journey of Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna, as she discovers the “code of life” through the gene editing scissors of the CRISPR-Cas 9 system.
An overview of the book on Barnes and Noble’s website says:
“…She and her collaborators turned a curiosity of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions. The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution… Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code.
Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses?… And what about preventing depression? Hmmm…Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the height or muscles or IQ of their kids?…”
In the interview discussing his book, Isaacson says, “If you want to change the genes in our body, you can do it by snipping them out and sometimes putting in a replacement. So let’s say somebody has sickle cell anemia or Huntington’s. That’s a simple-gene mutation. And so you can change it with a gene-editing tool. In the future, you might be able to do more complicated things, change hair color, a muscle mass or memory cells in a human being. And so what we do with gene-editing tools is we can fix diseases. And a little bit more controversially, we can edit the embryos of our children and make permanent changes in the human race.”
As I read these remarks regarding making “permanent changes in the human race,” I can’t help but shudder at the lack of respect for God’s role as the designer of all creation and of mankind. Scripture says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them,” (Genesis 1:27).
The interview goes on and seems to become lighthearted as Isaacson casually describes his experience in Jennifer Doudna’s lab at Berkeley.
“And so a couple of graduate students spent a couple of days with me, and we had test tubes and pipettes and those little centrifuges that spin things around. And we were able to take CRISPR and edit a human cell, put in a little phosphorescent gene in it so we could see it glow. And it wasn’t really all that hard, which was a little bit exciting to me, but also a bit unnerving.”
Editing human cells, according to Isaacson, isn’t “all that hard.” As Christians, we know God intricately designed the human body from genes to cells. For someone to say it isn’t “all that hard” to edit human cells created by God, shows a disconnect that’s quite unnerving. Who is man to tamper with what God has already made? In Genesis 1:31 it says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
In the interview, Isaacson goes on to say that gene editing and the discovery of how mRNA works, is a new revolution in science. He comments, “Now we’ve come to another particle, a fundamental particle of our existence, which is the gene. And in the beginning of this century, in 2000 or so, we sequenced the entire human genome. And now with Jennifer Doudna and the things that she and her colleagues have invented, we found ways to rewrite that genome. And so this part of the 21st century, I think, will be a biotech revolution, a life sciences revolution, in which we’ll be able to rewrite the code of life.”
Is it just me, or is this a Jurassic Park type mentality? After all, man was given stewardship over the plants and animals, but he was not given the power to rewrite or reinvent life. Is this reminiscent of what Satan did to Adam and Eve in the garden, where he said “you will be like God?” Yet, we know only God holds the power to design and create life.
Interestingly enough, Jennifer Doudna had a nightmare that involved Adolf Hitler. He was wearing a pig mask and inquiring about the “amazing technology” of CRISPR-Cas9. In an interview, Doudna had this to say about the dream: “I had the Hitler dream and I’ve had a couple of other very scary dreams, almost like nightmares, which is quite unusual for an adult. Not so much lately, but in the first couple of years after I published my work, the field was moving so fast. I had this incredible feeling that the science was getting out way ahead of any considerations about ethics, societal implications and whether we should be worrying about random people in various parts of the world using this for nefarious purposes.”
Doudna has expressed her apprehension over what can happen if CRISPR technology is placed in the wrong hands. She has also expressed concern over the editing of embryos. But at the same time, she wants it to be used to save lives and to treat genetic disorders. Describing how she feels when she hears from people with children who have rare mutations, she comments, “There was one that I can’t stop thinking about… A mother who told me that her infant son was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease, caused by a sporadic rare mutation. She sent me a picture of this little boy. He was this adorable little baby, he was bald, in his little carrier and so cute. I have a son and my heart just broke…And you think, if there were a way to help these people, we should do it. It would be wrong not to.”
Some of the most widely debated research with CRISPR involves germline gene editing. This type of editing can alter sperm, eggs and embryos in the early stages, in order to protect a child against a wide array of inherited diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes and certain types of cancer. At the same time, these same techniques could be used to create “designer babies,” or to create more desirable human traits that could be passed on to the next generation.
Psalm 139:13-14 reminds us of a truth that stands in opposition to these ideas. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
The world of CRISPR technology lives in the minds of people like Elon Musk, who believes gene editing and AI are essential in the coming years. Take a deep dive into the website Future of Life, where Musk serves on the Scientific Advisory Board. A quote from the website says, “Access to much greater Intelligence will be a step–change in our civilization.”
Herein lies the question–whose intelligence are they referring to? The intelligence of the Almighty God says that He is the one who can make our lives better when it comes to health and humanity. Man, on the other hand, loves building towers. This time, however, man is building with strands of DNA rather than bricks.
After Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier won the Nobel Peace Prize in Chemistry, the press release from the Nobel Prize website posted this statement: “Genetic scissors: a tool for rewriting the code of life.” Nobel Prize committee member Pernilla Wittung Stafshede said, “Only imagination sets the limits for what this chemical tool…can be used for in the future.” Claes Gustafsson, chair of the committee said, “There is enormous power in this genetic tool.”
Perhaps we can learn a lesson from Alfred Nobel, who created the Nobel Peace Prizes to be given to “those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.” An innovator himself, Mr. Nobel invented dynamite in 1867. His overall goal was to give the world a safer form of explosives–ones that were less volatile, but still had great power. At first, he named his invention “Nobel’s Blasting Powder,” but later changed it to dynamite, from the ancient Greek word dynamis, which means power.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The word for power in this verse is the Greek word dynamis. This word means moral power and excellence of soul. Essentially, the idea is that we will stand our ground and dig our feet in when it comes to the truth. Truth be told, if we have moral power and excellence of soul, we can blow the enemy to smithereens like a giant stick of dynamite.
When it comes to gene editing and the Code of Life, we must blast out the truth that God holds this power and not humans. In the hands of sinful man, this power can become unhinged and lead to all sorts of evil. In his later years, Alfred Nobel became very troubled by the destructiveness of his inventions. This is one of the reasons why he created the Nobel Peace Prizes.
As Christians, we know that there are many leaders, scientists, and inventors in this world who cannot discern when lines are crossed because they don’t know or understand the Word of God, or they do not have a relationship with the Creator of all life. They believe God’s design can be improved or re-engineered.
Referring to Jesus in Mark 6:3 it says, “Isn’t this the carpenter?” The Greek word used for carpenter in this verse is tekton. The definition is builder, creator, architect and craftsman. Make no mistake–Jesus is the craftsman, builder, and creator of life from the dust of the earth to the genes in our bodies. Man cannot edit or change this truth.
How can we effectively pray about this monumental issue at this crucial juncture in our history? Please share your thoughts in the comments. And please share this article–you won’t find this kind of spiritual analysis of news elsewhere.
Angela Rodriguez is an author, blogger and homeschooling Mom who studies the historical and biblical connections between Israel and the United States. You can visit her blogs at 67owls.com and 100trumpets.com. Picture credit: Getty Images.
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There is one thing that cannot be changed by genetic manipulation. It is the human soul. Only God can do that.
The Bible states, “In the beginning GOD created the heaven and the earth”. Day 1, LIGHT. Day 2, FIRMAMENT.
Day 3, DRY GROUND & PLANTS. Day 4, SUN, MOON, & STARS. Day 5, BIRDS & SEA ANIMALS. Day 6, LAND ANIMALS & HUMANS. ( GENESIS 1: 1-30) “And God saw everything that HE had made, and behold, it was VERY GOOD. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (GENESIS 1:31). Day 7, THE SABBATH of REST. ” The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For HE hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” ( Psalm 24:1-2). “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34). O, my friends, I find such delight in God’s Word! HIS WORD IS TRUTH, so it never leaves me wondering what this world is up to. BLESS HIS HOLY NAME!!!
Jacquelyn, I too find such delight in God’s Word. Your comment put a big smile on my face. Blessings to you…… : )
Wow, does this mean we can EDIT OUT SIN!?
Oh yeah, these people are sin, who are trying to usurp God’s prerogative of Creation.
Another sign of the end times. God will not let His Holy Christian Church fail. It may get very small with all these evil forces against it, But He will protect His elect into eternity! Come, Lord Jesus, come!
there is nothing to say other than this is wrong. They are not You! They did not sit the stars in the sky. They did not create each creature. They did not create Adam in Your own triune image. And they have no right, no reason and no future in pretending to be You.
So, reveal this for what it is. Stop the funding of it. Shut it down.
In Your One True Creator Name
Almighty God, is the ONLY ONE who can make “permanent changes” in the human race!!! God is the CREATOR, not man! “We are fearfully and wonderfully made” by our CREATOR! He must be laughing at these pathetic “scientists” or whatever you call them! God have mercy on their souls!
I think of satan immediately trying to be like GOD. And like satan, HIS judgement on those that will die as surely as the rest of us. Our one HOPE is our CREATOR!!!
In vitro fertilization,
Or IVF, 15 egged are extracted from one women. All are fertilized. Now there are Fifteen embryos. Only one is used. What happens to the remaining 14? They are frozen, destroyed or sold? How many embryos are there? Does anyone know? IVF is not a good thing because It is possible for one women to have 14 children aborted. Think about this for a moment.
Hold on, folks, don’t automatically dismiss CRISPR technology as inherently evil. The scientists are working on it in order to CURE, not just treat, genetic diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, sickle cell, and many, many others. I have been following this research for nearly three years, as well as investing in the various companies engaged in the research for the cures. I think that the cures for many forms of cancer and several other diseases will emerge within the next 10 years, using first, second and third generation gene editing tools. That is a very good thing. However, I wrote a paper on this topic myself a couple of years ago, called “The Ethics of Playing God.” The fact is, the science is several years ahead of the legislation needed to control it and to outlaw genetic editing when it steps over the line into God’s lane of actual creation. It seems to me one easy dividing line would be to globally outlaw what Angela called “germline” genetic editing: on sperm, eggs, embryos inside or outside the womb, and babies in the womb, because if you edit those elements that create life, the human that is born from that editing will in fact permanently change mankind since that human will pass on those same edits to his or her descendants. However, if you “cut,” for example, the mutated sickle cell gene out of a child or an adult, and “paste” a healthy gene in its place, all you’ve done is heal that one person of his/her disease. But without an outright ban on “germline” genetic editing, we would indeed enter the Frankenstein world of designer babies and Nazi-like desires to create a “superior race.” Yet genetic editing will likely also one day cure aging itself, which leads to another dilemma of “second and third order effects”: if people now in their 50s and 60s will easily live to be over 100, who will pay their freight in Social Security and pension costs and so on for an extra 30+ years? What will that mean for societies around the globe? My prayer is simple: that God will give the scientists developing these cures the wisdom and desire to know restraint while He wakes up the national legislatures around the globe to tackle this issue with His own wisdom BEFORE the technology becomes mainstream.
It reminds me of the creature in the tribulation that Revelation talks about. With a face like a man and scorpion stinging tail. Man is degenerate with out God. I can see how a literal terrible consequence of man’s rebellion to reject God as creator and choose evolution . Man’s pride it’s as if the nobles end time prophecies are so real like never before we see things unfolding. May we be faithful and have courage to stand in the evil day as we see it approaching. God bless all who are faithful praying and acting on their faith to stand against such evil speaking the truth. May the Lord continue to bless us to have wisdom and discernment. To keep ourselves pure and unpolluted from the world. To look for his coming.
Many things to pray about regarding this new genetic manipulation.Leadnus not into temptation, but deliver us from EVIL. Experimenting on human embryos is evil, and there is too much potential for CRISPRCas9 to be used under the pretense for good, like curing diseases. Isn’t that the pretense for Fauci funding gain of function research in Wuhan? (So we can better be prepared if a virus “jumps” species, let’s engineer a pathogenic virus that infects primatesfrom bat influenza viruses)
CRISPRCas9 likely will be introduced someday as a “vaccine.”
From the beginning, ‘man’ has wanted to be like God:
Gen. 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
This is a real good post from you……….I went back to the second Chapter of Genesis when God first gave them the instructions about not eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil……………He said when you EAT it, you shall die……..he never said anything about touching it………..Even added that…….so she was stating a half/truth…………..a half truth is not a whole truth…….I have often wondered if this made her even more vulnerable……..just thinking………
It is Not going to happen. This world may well be approaching the end of time, Only God knows, but He will not allow man to scientifically reproduce man.
John 5: 26-27 speaks of physical, temporal human life that is the domain of the Father and the Son. Contrast this text with Colossians 3: 4 which defines Christ as, “When Christ, who is our Real Life returns, you will shine with Him and share in all His glories”. So we must carefully consider how playing God in this temporal physical life will affect the post-Resurrection life that Christ has prepared for us. Our prayer should be to “Shine Your Love on Me, Lord”.
I need to pray about how I now feel about President Trump. I used to admire and appreciate him so much. But even yesterday he bragged about his unvetted and dangerous vaccine. So now I pretty much am done with him. I’m sad to feel this way, but shame on him!!!!
Sounds like the Tower of Babel.
We decree that no genetic social engineering shall occur. Scientists’ efforts will fail in their attempts to alter and change the human DNA.
Yes to cures from disease but only as God guides them. We pray for all scientists to encounter and surrender the hearts and souls to God the Creator. We pray for ethical wisdom for them and for all the people. We pray for faith in God’s creative and restorative abilities to help us find cures that are ethical and blessed by God.
I see dinasours from the children’s Ice Age movie and know that even as God was in control during that period on earth , so HE still is today. AMEN
I always had hoped and prayed that when this kind of bizarre behavior on the part of science took place, that it would hasten the Lord’s return. people are attempting to do what only the Lord has the right to do- design human life. Scientifically altering life on any level is wrong, and must not be allowed to happen. This technology in any hands is dangerous, let alone the “wrong” hands. Lord, please make it so that these attempts to remake human life fail miserably. In Jesus’ name I pray.
“Lord, please make it so that these attempts to remake human life fail miserably. In Jesus’ name I pray.”
Brian, I agree! I add a prayer for all God’s people in Heaven and on earth to agree as well, in a loud and powerful Amen!
Thanks for adding that on, Susan CC. It is high time for God to intervene and foil the plans of those who are under the delusion of the Enemy.
When I read this article as horrible as the report is, I thought “this does not take God by surprise.” As I searched for scripture to support that statement, which IT WILL, I was directed to Psalm 75. What a powerful song about our All Powerful God. Thanksgiving is followed by statements of absolute conviction of His Sovereignty, divine judgement, and deliverance. I know that none of the madness of our day surprises our Abba Father and I am believing more and more, what does matter is our continued fight against it. As these ungodly matters are exposed, we fight. When we feel like we are unable to breathe for the wickedness surrounding us, we fight. God is with us but we must be with Him. Thank you Angela for being ever faithful to reveal our “targets.” Jesus Christ on the cross, took upon Himself the wrath of God. How blessed are we to be called to His army of faithful in this time. Thanks to Him we have this privilege to fight.
I pray the strength and conviction of The Eternal will fill our hearts and minds as we pray for His Will on earth as it is in Heaven. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
Never a good idea to try to be God.
Amen, God is God and we are not.
Father God, knowledge is an amazing gift that You, our creator have given, but everything that You have ordained over Your creation, our enemy twists and uses for our destruction. Without understanding and reverence for You, this gift will be used for our demise. In reading this article, the Tower of Babel was brought to mind. So as Your representative here on earth, I ask you to confuse the minds of these scientists Father so they cannot collaborate and change what You have created. This is Pandora’s box, and every wicked thing is being released from it!!
With this CRSPR technology already in use is it too late?? No Father!! There is nothing impossible for You and with You ALL things are possible. You have told me to come to You with the faith of a child, and that if I ask anything according to Your will I know that You hear me and I have the thing that I have asked. So with that assurance, I ask You to bring a halt to this scientific engineering and close the lid on Pandora’s box in Jesus name.
This is an excellent, well-written and informative article that certainly gives us a strategy to pray. I do see a caution in coupling CRISPR with MRNA, as they both operate very differently, with MRNA not changing genetic coding. However, this type of news of CRISPR needs to have the ethical alarms ringing loud and clear.
May God have mercy on us for every trying to take over what His role alone.