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Genetics questions answered

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Published: 10 September 2016 (GMT+10)

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James K., Canada, writes:

Hello I really appreciate your work, its equipped me with the means of defending my faith and it has been a pleasure to read through your articles.

I was just wondering why you never discuss the genetic similarities between humans and suids and the rodentia clade. It seems to me to be a strong argument for us creationists, for if members of the family perrisiodactyls bear such striking similarity to humans, (perhaps even more so than certain primates) then by evolutionary reasoning pigs should be incorporated into the immediate lineage of human evolution. This would cement the fallaciousness of tracing evolutionary lineage via comparison of genetic similarity between organisms would it not? Again I really appreciate all your work, please correct me if I'm wrong.

, CMI-US, responds:

You raise an interesting point, but it might be more difficult to use that argument than you think. While there are certainly similarities between humans and things other than chimpanzees, the plain fact of the matter is that chimpanzees are closer to us than pigs. In fact, there IS a general hierarchical order to things, with things that are more morphologically similar to one another being more genetically similar to one another. So, even though rodents, pigs, people, and apes all have a lot in common, chimps have more in common with us.

But why would anyone expect otherwise? Given a range of species, something is bound to be more similar to us than other things. And if chimps eat the same foods we do, have the same temperature requirements we do, etc., I would absolutely expect them to be genetically more similar to us than, say, fruit flies. Thus, since both evolutionists and creationists expect common form to equate to common genetics, the genetic similarity of anything to humans cannot be used as an argument for evolution. The difference is evolutionists attribute this similarity to common ancestry, while creationists attribute it to a common Designer.

Ken H., Canada, writes:

Creation Ministries, I find your magazine very informative and faith assuring. I have a question however, that may be of interest to others also.

The recent unravelling of the significance of DNA attests to God’s miraculous plan of procreation and genetic inheritance. If it were possible to have a DNA sample from Jesus, what do you suppose it would reveal concerning his Father, God? His DNA could not be identical to Mary’s or He would have been female, and a clone. The Y chromosome must have been present.

Dr Robert Carter replies:

Since Jesus was not recorded as looking different from His contemporaries, it is almost certain that He would have carried various traits that gave him a “Middle Eastern” look. Yes, He could not have received a Y chromosome from his mother, and so this would have had to be manufactured from scratch by God (this is part of the miracle—some female animals can give birth to daughters parthenogenically, but giving birth to males is not possible because male-specific genes on the Y chromosome are required). Several people have speculated that Jesus’ Y chromosome would have been identical to that of Adam, but I see no reason for this. Regarding the rest of the genome that God would have added to Mary’s egg cell, I highly suspect it would look Middle Eastern as well. Thus, the only real test is that of the Y chromosome. But this is a “type B” experiment: If the Y is unique this proves the uniqueness of Christ, but if the Y is generically Middle Eastern it proves nothing. Note, I put no stock in the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, but I would still like to see the blood stains analyzed for DNA content.

Readers’ comments

Robert W.
I submit that if we could analyze the blood of Jesus Christ, we would witness "holy" blood for the first time. No mere mans blood could ever wash away our sins.
That sounds elementary, I understand, yet I doubt the instruments of analysis used in our labs could even produce a result on the blood of The Savior of The World. "Not of this world", in other words, alien, is more than likely the key element here.
Jesus made it clear, being with the Father before time began, that He was "not of this world."
Even in human form, or image if one prefers, Christ possessed many traits no human ever could.
And the blood is the one that counts most.
Robert Carter
That sounds a little surreal. If Jesus was human then laboratory techniques like blood typing and DNA sequencing should certainly work on Him. The results might be surprising (e.g. if He had a Y chromosome unlike any living person), but he had cells, blood, hair, DNA, etc., just like every other human.
Michael W.
Please correct me if I'm wrong but surely, apart from later mutations, Adam as originally created must have had all the DNA of all his descendants.

If Jesus, the last Adam, had the same DNA then he also carried all our DNA in his life and so also on the Cross. Of course he is not the same member of the Trinity as God our Father but he has made himself Father of the human race. This is why Isaiah can say his name is Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. All of these titles refer to Jesus. As Father of mankind he has assumed responsibility for the sins of all people. This explains how he could die for the sins of the whole world.
Robert Carter
Yes, but as I have said several times already, DNA is not the only source of inheritable variation, nor it is the important thing that God demands in payment for sin (blood is).
Michael W.
When God created Eve from the side of Adam he must have removed the Y Chromosome. Surely he retained this for when he needed a Y Chromosome for the virgin birth of Jesus. In this way he carried all of Adam's pre-fall DNA in his own body on the Cross. In this way he retrospectively became Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9.6). In this way our DNA was upon the Cross with him and therefore when Christ who is our life shall appear , we also will appear with him in glory (Col 3.4)
Robert Carter
"Surely?" As long as we are talking about the DNA of Jesus there is very little to be sure of. Ditto when talking about the DNA of Eve.

However, it is a pretty good assumption to think that Eve may have been a genetic copy of Adam, with the exception of a missing Y and a doubled X. I have said so in print several times, although I don't think I have ever been dogmatic on it as there are several other possibilities.

As I said in a comment above, sin is not genetic and we inherit a lot more than just DNA. Pre-fall vs. post-Fall DNA is also probably irrelevant because why would we assume the Fall instantly changed Adam's DNA? And if "our" DNA was on the cross, then Adam's was not.

Also, Jesus never became the everlasting Father. That would merge two distinct parts of the Trinity. He was as much a part of the Trinity at conception as He is now.

Robert R.
It seems obvious that Jesus looked like his contemporaries. And since two lineages in the new testament both have Joseph as his father, then the smart bet is that it is Joseph's DNA. Then his brothers were actual brothers. God can take Adam's rib and make a person, he can surely take sperm from Joseph, or just create a zygote from Joseph's lineage. Because of Biblical inerrancy, we can say he was similar to his relatives and cousin John the Baptist.
Robert Carter
The Bible states clearly that Joseph did not have intercourse with Mary until after Jesus was born. To say otherwise you may as well throw out the entire Bible, because everything that follows is also not true. You cannot have both biblical inerrancy and Biblical self-refutation at the same time. Your statement is not even heterodox. It flies in the face of the most fundamental Christian beliefs since the beginning of our religion.
Jack S.
In the discussion of the origin of Jesus genetic nature it is incumbent that we also consider the genetic source of Adam's DNA information since the two are so closely compared in the New Testament as has already been shown. Adam's complete bio-physical system has no precursor since it was created ex-nihilo. Therefore there need be no precursor for Jesus' system either. It would compromise His completely sinless nature if even half of His genetic make-up came from Mary. Being the last Adam Jesus' zygote must be a creation of God, a miracle similar, if not exactly like the first Adam. For a virgin to conceive and bare a child is not a miracle with currently available human fertilization techniques. Male sperm or even a fertilized egg can be implanted without sexual intercourse. The resultant child could claim to be born of a virgin, but could not deny a sinful nature. The miracle of Jesus' conception (not his birth) violates no scripture; indeed it is required by those scriptures.

As an aside, Dr. Carter likens physical illness to temptation. I believe this is pushing the metaphor a little to vigorously.
Robert Carter
But how could Christ be a descendant of David if God miraculously created all of Jesus' DNA to look like that of Adam?

It would absolutely not compromise His holiness if half of his DNA came from Mary, for DNA is not the only thing a baby receives from its parents. The mother contributes cellular machines, the cell membrane with structured polarization patterns already in place, large biomolecules through the placenta, etc. Would any of those have compromised His deity? Even if the entire embryo were created de novo by God, which is not impossible, that embryo would have then taken in many, many things from the mother.

And while modern techniques can create a "test tube" child, so what? Sin is not genetic! It is not a commodity manufactured by the cell. We died in Adam (1 Cor 15:22), even though Eve ate first. Thus sin is applied to every human, test tube or not.

And, no, I did not equate temptation and physical illness. Instead, physical illness might lead to temptation (temptation to question or even curse God for feeling lousy, for instance).
James K.
Pardon my ignorance as genetics is not my strong suit,

From past debate experience evolutionists seem to confuse phenotypic information with genetic information. So while a mutation might remove a third of a gene (loss of info) as long as it leads to a new phenotype it will still be considered an increase in info.

Am I right?
Robert Carter
See this very important article: Can mutations create new information?
Chandrasekaran M.
How much did Mary the mother of Jesus contribute to the body of Jesus when Jesus became flesh? Obviously Mary did not contribute to Jesus spirit because Mary was born spiritually dead and Jesus the Lord is eternal and spiritually alive even before Mary was born. Now, Jesus the Lord is call the last Adam according to 1Co_15:45 So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. Here, Jesus is compared to the first Adam before the fall, before Adam and Eve sinned and before the law of decay (DNA degradation by mutations and selection) was set in motion as a result of Adam’ fall and as a result of God cursing the ground in response to Adam’s sin. If Mary did contribute to Jesus body genetically, it must have been decaying DNA. If this were to be the case, then Jesus cannot be likened to the first Adam before the fall. Moreover 2Co 5:21 says 2Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. This happened only when Jesus the Lord was hanging on the cross and not when Jesus became flesh. So Mary genetically contributed to Jesus body as much as a surrogate mother contributes genetically to a baby not of the surrogate mother.
Robert Carter
You missed one thing: "who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Heb 4:15).

If Jesus was tempted as we are in every respect, one would assume that part of this would involve physical struggle, including sickness (which is regulated by genetics).

If Jesus got a 'perfect' genome straight from God one might not be able to say he was tempted like us in every respect.

If Jesus received half of his DNA from Mary, most of the DNA that Jesus carried could not be attributed to mutation. We cannot absolutely tell what is a mutation and what is God-created diversity (see creation.com/historical-adam-biologos), but even in the Mary-contributed-DNA hypothesis we are not talking about him inheriting a massively degraded genome.

But even the non-mutant Middle Eastern gene set might create a person who is not as 'robust' as Adam. In fact, one would assume this is so. Therefore, even if you took a mutation-free genome that created a Middle Eastern phenotype, Jesus might still struggle with the environment due to his genetics (i.e., his body might not have been optimal).

Yet, how could one tell if Jesus got half of his DNA from Mary or all of his DNA from God? If we are talking about generic Middle Eastern genes in both cases, the point is moot.
Joseph M.
I never like commenting on an article a second time but I have to take issue with M. S., Japan (MSJ) comment. There is another error of (MSJ) Robert Carter missed in his great reply. (MSJ) States "There was only one person in all of human history who could have possibly known (for an absolute fact) that Jesus was not conceived normally by a human male, and that person was Mary."

(MSJ) then states people lie about sexual intercourse and finally states "I believe it is obvious which of these is the most likely scenario" i.e. inferring that Mary is a liar.

Well, if (MSJ) had self analysed his own premise then there would have had to have been not one but two persons in all history who would know (for an absolute fact) and those two would be Mary and the human male. Since no human male has ever claimed to have had intercourse with Mary up until Jesus death and after Jesus resurrection (Jesus's many enemies would certainly have known of such a person and used him as evidence against Jesus), then it should be obvious which scenario is most likely, i.e. Mary was telling the truth.
M. S.
Regarding Jesus' Y chromosome...

There was only one person in all of human history who could have possibly known (for an absolute fact) that Jesus was not conceived normally by a human male, and that person was Mary.
Not Joseph nor any possible midwives, and certainly not the disciples and/or gospel writers.

Mary alone, out of all human beings on earth.

So, the entire claim of a virgin birth is clearly based entirely on the word of one person, Mary. Every other believing Christian has no choice but to take her word for it, i.e. that a completely unprecedented supernatural miracle of conception occurred.

On the other hand, we do know for a fact that untold numbers of both men and women throughout history have lied about having sexual intercourse.

I believe it is obvious which of these is the most likely scenario (even assuming that the written gospel accounts faithfully related what had been handed down by word of mouth).
Robert Carter
In this you greatly err. You have referenced the account of the birth of Christ (Luke 1:26-38), but there is more to this story.

OK, readers, how many false claims can you spot in the comment from M.S.? He starts with one fact (Mary is the only direct witness) but runs straight into a ditch from that point on.

First of all, Jesus' adopted father also received an angelic visitation that clearly explained to him what had happened to his bride to be (Matthew 1:20-25). That's two human testimonies and at least one angelic testimony right from the start.

When newly-pregnant Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, and John leaped in his mother's womb, Elizabeth proclaimed, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1: 39-45). She did not say "the mother of Joseph's child". Claiming her child is "the Lord" would be heresy if it were not true.

In the account of the angels visiting the shepherds, the first angel proclaims, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 1:8-15) Note very carefully that he calls him "The Lord". Nobody born by human parents in the natural and normal way can rightly be called "The Lord".

We also have the testimony of the magi. Why, on earth, would they worship (Luke 2:2) a regular-old child?

And, finally, we have the testimony of God himself, who proclaimed "You are my beloved son, with you I am well pleased" at Jesus' very public baptism (Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22). Nobody else in the Bible is being referred to in those terms! And note the statement "being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph" in the very next verse in Luke's account.

The status of Jesus as the Son of God, as the Savior of the world, and as the child of Mary but not Joseph is one tightly-knit argument. Everything flows from it and back to it. It wasn't just Mary who must have lied, but also Joseph, one or more angels, and God.

There is much, much more to this story. Questions have been raised about the transmission of the original accounts into written form, the status of eyewitnesses, the nature of God, etc. etc. For more details, start on our Bible Q&A page.

Larry F.
Thank you Dr. Carter for all your great work.
This is a little off the subject.
I was witnessing to a research biologist from the University of Wisconsin. She said she had seen new information arise de novo in her lab. I challenged her to provide evidence, and she just said she see's it all the time. I said it was the same info just rearranged.
She said no, it was completely new.
I know you and Dr. Lightner say it is possible for some new info to arise. I also said it is still bacteria and would remain bacteria, but she just dismissed that argument. I also told her bout the cultures from the gut of dead people long before antibiotics etc. and the findings of resistant bacteria in caves and the fact that some of the bacteria already had resistence.
How would you have responded to this claim of new information in bacteria?
Thank you very much.
Robert Carter
You need to study this article: Can Mutations Create New Information?
Joseph M.
This puts a further nail in theistic evolution's coffin because,

Theistic evolution = matter + evolutionary factors (chance and necessity + mutation + selection + isolation + death) + very long time periods + God.

So for the Virgin birth, Darwinian or theistic evolution is impossible. The formula God must have used to created from scratch the genome God added to Mary’s egg cell in less than a day, had to have been

Creation = matter + very short time period + God.

But will this convince the theist? Probably not.

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