Tuesday, October 23, 2012
From the lips of children?
Today, my two older sons emailed me. I thought that what they remarked upon was so important that I should put it up on the blog. Here is what my son Joel shared:
This is a great quote from the most recent Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine, Shinya Yamanaka, taken from a 2007 interview with the New York Times shortly after his seminal Cell paper came out showing you could reprogram human fibroblasts (skin cells) to embryonic-like stem cells by expressing just four transcription factors (master regulator proteins that control gene expression). Dr. Yamanaka was an assistant professor of pharmacology doing research involving embryonic stem cells when he made the social call to the clinic about eight years ago. At the friend’s invitation, he looked down the microscope at one of the human embryos stored at the clinic. The glimpse changed his scientific career. “When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters,” said Dr. Yamanaka, 45, a father of two and now a professor at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences at Kyoto University. “I thought, we can’t keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way.”
Wow. "There must be another way." That drive in us humans to figure out "another way" is what my son Mark picked up on in his response:
It's always fascinating to me the way people can come up with ways to figure things out when they are determined. When people look at a problem and say "There HAS to be a way to do this!" they are remarkably good at creating one. Examples include the "Unsolvable Math Problem" (http://www.snopes.com/college/homework/unsolvable.asp) solved by George Bernard Dantzig because he didn't know it was supposed to be unsolvable and the many "impossible" problems solved by mission control in the course of the Apollo 13 mission (The "mailbox" rig is my favorite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_13).
It makes me think that part of our being made in the image of God includes our determined creativity. This is not to say that the determination is always a good thing though. Any of the people who dedicated themselves to understanding the Voynich Manuscript have probably wasted their lives completely. On the other hand, people probably said the same thing about hieroglyphics before the Rosetta Stone (and just like that the banner ads for language learning fire up!).
All that determined creativity makes me think of Genesis 11. Determined creativity (in the image of God) plus total depravity is dangerous indeed:
The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
Makes you wonder if the internet could ever lead to something like Babel happening again.
Fascinating stuff--thought provoking, God honoring, demonstrating an integration between faith and life. Yes, indeed, I love my boys. . . except that they are no longer boys--they are now men.
Grateful that 1 Corinthians 14:20 is being fulfilled in my sons,
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