Life's spiritual blueprint

The other day, when I heard that someone in our extended family had taken a DNA test to discover more about her family roots, I realized how much the use of genetic testing has grown in recent years. For some, it's part of their lifelong journey to find answers to the age-old questions: Who am I? Where do I come from? And where am I going? Their sense of identity may be closely tied to the family, tribe, or nationality they were born into. For others it's all about health. Doctors and biologists are using genetics to speculate about the body's health prospects and how to remedy flaws in its genetic blueprint. There's a widespread notion that a person's genetic makeup determines their capabilities and the way they think and function in daily life.

But can genes really define us? This week's Sentinel explores this question from the spiritual premise that there's so much more to you and me than merely a mass of molecular codes. Christian Science teacher Robin Hoagland explains that "we have a choice to make. Start with matter, or start with Spirit" (p. 8). Daniel Scott, who gives a brief summary of evolutionary biology, emphasizes that our human history is never "God's take" of us (p. 11). Rather, a better understanding of our divine heritage leads to progress and healing, as sociologist Carl Taylor found during tough times in his own youth, as well as in his current street work in a challenging urban environment.

In a talk to a group of students in 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King said: "Number one in your life's blueprint should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness." The point is, of course, it's our inherent, God-given worth and wholeness that determine who we are. Double-helix DNA molecules and the genes they carry cannot provide the answers to what our true life's prospects and heritage are. Because God, who is Spirit, defines both.

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March 3, 2008

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