God and genetics

I had a post made as a personal message, and would like to make it a forum post for the writer:

“I had given a colleague, an atheist PhD The Language of God. I am grateful for Frances Collins book. I was reading some of the premises of Theistic evolution and the following occurred to me regarding point #4: “Once evolution got under way, no special supernatural intervention is required.” I would certainly agree with that in one way- but the following occurred to me. What creator does not tinker with his creation? Look at the Mallard duck. I was always impressed by it’s cool blue stripe Can you imagine God thinking it cool and kind of pushing the genes a little? We call “God in the gaps” an attempt to explain away speciation- but can or would a sovereign God become involved in his artwork? Let me ask you this- does God intervene in our lives today? Does he intervene in the history of mankind, in our personal lives to bring us to a more intimate knowledge of Him- why are genes off limits? Check out the mallard. Anyway, perhaps a foolish thought but just looking for some feedback.

https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A0geK9rDch5iqxAAbgRXNyoA; ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3BpdnM-?p=male+mallard+duck&fr2=piv-web&fr=yfp-t#id=18&iurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.birdnote.org%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2F18 -_mallard_pair_beautiful.jpg&action=click”


Does a parent tinker with their child’s genetic code?

Do you love them for who and what they are? Or do you try to fix them to fit some perfect ideal?

Is God a watchmaker designer? Or is God a shepherd, teacher, and parent?

No. Instead I think God would support the conditions which make such cool things possible.

If your child draws a picture you really like what will you do? Rewire them so that they always draw the same picture? Or will you praise them and give them encouragement?

Yes, yes, and yes.

Because that is the difference between living things and machines. With machines you control how it works. With living things you become a participant in their lives to interact with them as they are.

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What about it? The vibrant plumage and colouration of male birds is due to Haldane’s rule.

Does a watchmaker have to constantly moved the gears in his watches with his own hands in order for the watch to work?

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Of course the answer depends on what we mean by “intervene”. It’s interesting and fruitful at some level to think of the objects of creation as artwork, but we must also remember that those “pieces of art” have been given agency – an existence that has (at least some degree of) autonomy. In that sense, “intervening” or “tinkering” doesn’t seem quite so positive.

But don’t read that as a “wind up the clock and let it go” theory of creation. Using another metaphor (which also can’t be pushed too far), I don’t “intervene” or “tinker” in the lives of my adult children, though I am very involved.


I believe that God cares about creation and even in some mysterious way “upholds” it. His interactions with us are constant. But I don’t believe that he intervenes genetically. That would imply that he cares more about pretty bird feathers than about human genetic diseases.


I’d like to think that I’ve made my personal position fairly clear: i.e. I say “Nay” to “Divine genetic tampering”, such as is claimed in an abiogenetic conception of Jesus. I have difficulty imagining–much less believing–that God acts like some kind of un-natural or supernatural CRISPR “intervening” or tinkering with a person’s genes during their human existence in this world. However, more than one NT writer mentions Jesus’ Transfiguration and post-Crucifixion events, attesting to God’s ability and willingness to do marvelous things from time to time, which is always an encouragement to believe, to trust, and to hope.

That’s not an analogy for how God is involved with us.

We objectively know (and I am prepared for a few eyes to roll ; - ) that God providentially intervenes in the lives of his children – including the timing of some DNA mutations (mine), so it absolutely is a good analogy of how God is involved with us, as a father is involved with his children.

Exchanging gifts you would not call tinkering or intervening, though, or replying to requests.

Better would be, “that’s not a good analogy for how I think about God’s involvement with us.”

To which I would reply, “Fine. It is for how I think about God’s involvement with us.”

If instead you’re claiming to have some absolute, objective knowledge about the nature of that relationship that isn’t mediated by analogy, then I’d suggest this Forum is too small for you… You should be founding your own religion!


You might notice my profile picture (of course you have already), speaking of ducks. There is a fun story of a delightful providence behind it, too.

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We make up whatever metaphor by analogy works for us. That absolutely isn’t how God relates to us.

PS and I’m only interested in true religion.

PPS you any kin of Keith W.?

Analogies absolutely do not annul objective facts and objective meaning.

This is the link you wanted in the OP, I presume:

No in my opinion.If thats the case free will wouldnt be a thing as many have a pointed out.But honestly i dont know .This seems like a reasonable question with so many other smaller question merged together.This alone needs a thread of its own

Sure — why not? — when He sees fit. Although, he’s never revealed to ME that or when or how he makes changes.

And while YECs are trying to show where Jonah’s big fish shows up on some taxonomical chart, I’m wondering why we need to absolutely dismiss the possibility of the existance of this particular creature (which may or may not have really existed) being miraculous.

While I’m annoyed by the materialistic thinking of YECs, I don’t have any empiracle evidence that God does or does not “tinker” with DNA, although I know He can, if he wishes. So, we’re back to speculation. Maybe a great novel is waiting there.

The only time in ongoing entirely natural human evolution that God, if being is grounded by intent, got involved in genetics was in conceiving Himself in Jesus.

And @Kendel, we need to dismiss the existence of Jonah and his living submarine apart from as a story or we miss the point and worse. We infantilize theology.

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I think you are probably right, but I am unaware of methods for testing the assertion that God never involves himself in genetics (except for Jesus’s), so I will maintain my view that it is possible, even if not probable.

And as for Jonah, I bring the account up, not to discuss the genre of the book, but rather as an example of the inconsistancies of YEC argumentation. They demand a literalistic view of Scripture and accuse conventional scientists of forcing every thought to scientific materialism. Yet, when it comes to understanding creation, genetic change or even a miraculous story, they obsess about the mechanics and getting the pseudoscience right, a materialistic focus, rather than on doxology, which many of the most precise scientists here are delighted to engage in.

As for the genre of the book of Jonah, I make no claim. I am aware that it is widely held as “story” rather than history, however, I haven’t looked into the matter in detail and don’t find it a priority.
In regards to one’s understanding of the book being a mechanism for infantilizing one’s faith, I guess you’ll have to provide evidence to back up that claim.

Thanks for reading and responding, though. You share some valuable insights regularly here, at least the ones I can understand. ; )


Kendel, Kendel, Kendel. You’re fighting a rear guard action. No testing is necessary, and no matter how good it gets, no matter how every gap in our story of nature is filled by nature, it will never, can never find God. Because there is always a gap, even after all gaps are filled; we make them up. And minds desperate for meaning will fill it while it shrinks and still infect our story of nature.

I got your point about fundamentalism, but you did spoil it by not dismissing the infantilization of theology in giving any credence (a fine band) to literalism. The miracle of Jonah is the emergence of a benign, inclusive, humane God concept.

I think creation works as God intended it to work and I see no reason for him to intervene if he weren’t to tell us something or help us in some way and I don’t see how tinkering in our genes would do any of that. I mean, he is a creator above all others, if human bodies needed some function we probably already have it, I just don’t see God as someone who plays around for the sake of it.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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