Did God Give You Kidney Stones?

Did God Give You Kidney Stones? November 19, 2020

I would like to introduce you to Matthew Sabatine who will contribute a few pieces that can also be found on his own blog – details below. Over to him:

DNA is often given supernatural attributes and its uniqueness is often hard to separate from God as an origin. I have witnessed this understanding many times over the years. Here are some examples:

Mike Matthews, the editor in chief of Answers in Genesis, stated in a 2003 article:

Unlike the atheists, creationists see the genetic code as astonishing evidence for a Designer, who created a marvelously complex, efficient ‘information system’ for encoding life. The only reasonable explanation for all the information in DNA is that a Designer put all the information in the original genes—e.g. the ‘kinds’ that He made during the six days of Creation.

Mike Matthews seems unable to resist personifying DNA and nature. The marvelous complexity that surpasses his comprehension compels his personification and assumption that there are no alternatives to the perceived superior Intelligence. How unscientific to assume and try no alternatives!

Biochemist Dr. Duane Gish, former vice president of the Institute of Creation Research, seems to fall into the same personification trap in this quote by Answers in Genesis in 2003:

The genetics are so incredibly complex and can be so marvelously interrelated that it’s absolutely going to demand an intelligent source. The idea that all of this could have come about by random accidents, genetic errors, and so forth is just simply beyond comprehension.

In 2014, Lee Strobel wrote in Focus on the Family:

The six feet of DNA coiled inside every one of our body’s one hundred trillion cells contain a four-letter chemical alphabet that spells out precise assembly instructions for all the proteins from which our bodies are made. Cambridge-educated Stephen Meyer demonstrated that no hypothesis has come close to explaining how information got into biological matter by naturalistic means. On the contrary, he said that whenever we find a sequential arrangement that’s complex and corresponds to an independent pattern or function such as books and computer code, this kind of information is always the product of intelligence.

The amazingness of gargantuan amounts of DNA and cells being wrapped up in such a small space, coupled with over-analogized genetic code letters, offers the illusion of a divine message. The amazingness is so powerful that it is hard to stop assuming that divinity is the only choice of origin.

That general perception has apparently not abated in the last 10 years, as freelance writer, Valerie Schultz, wrote in 2018 in America – The Jesuit Review:

Because your DNA is yours and yours alone. Your DNA is like a blueprint of your soul, which is another sacred thing that is not like anyone else’s in the world. Your DNA traces your history and your future, because it determines who you came from and who you will create. It is a miracle of life. God is in the microscopic details, in the meeting of egg and sperm in the particular way that could only have led to you. DNA is a kind of holy ground. I am not scientifically inclined, but if I were, I can imagine that the wonder of each strand of DNA, of the intricacy of the 23 pairs of chromosomes that equals only me, would point to the existence of God. Could something as astounding as our DNA have come from anywhere else but a loving Creator? ‘Before I formed you in the womb,” says the God of Jeremiah, ‘I knew you.’

Even professionals as prestigious as Francis Collins have been on the bandwagon. As leader of the Human Genome Project that determined the base pairs of DNA, Collins has explained DNA as “our own instruction book, previously known only to God.” Reportedly, he convinced Bill Clinton of this who has been quoted as saying “today, we are learning the language in which God created life.” Due to Collins’ prestige and connection with the public, it has been expressed that he could have “done science a disservice.”

If DNA is the product of an Intelligent Designer/Creator, some significant flaws and negligence were included in the making, since it includes the breakdown of DNA in such a way that the uric acid, converted from the nucleic acids, that we must excrete in sodium urate everyday, puts us at risk of having gout, kidney stones, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cardiorenal disease.

Due to limited solubility or breakability of uric acid and calcium oxalate, they can over-accumulate in the blood and urine, concentrating and precipitating in clumps that are acutely painful to pass through the ureter, which is the duct from the kidney to the bladder (McMurry et al, 2017). [6]

The Creator, said to be perfect, made a mistake when forming your “inmost being,” knitting you together in your mother’s womb, and having you be “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (See Psalm 139:13-14) This big mistake can be seen in postmenopausal women who are at high risk of kidney stones. He made a mistake by not making us more compatible with rhubarb, spinach, blueberries, and chocolate, of which their high intake of dietary oxalates put us at risk. Due to the Creator’s refusal to improve nucleic acid/purine metabolism, it is necessary for us to use a drug called allopurinol to diminish sodium urate by blocking an enzyme called xanthine oxidase that helps make the uric acid (McMurry et al, 2017).

A mutation in our history caused us to not inherit the uricase enzyme that converts uric acid into more soluble stuff (particularly allantoin) to pass benignly through the body. The uricase mutation had taken place roughly 15 million years ago during the Miocene period’s global cooling and dearth of food that forced early primates to change survival strategies.  Uric acid has been suggested to be a threat indicator, bestowed upon us by the RNA world.

The uricase gene lost its useful purpose in two primate lineages during the mid-Miocene period, thereby transferring a higher serum uric acid to humans, great apes, and lesser apes. It is something that is harder to regulate in us than other mammals. [8]

The uricase deactivation is said to have occurred gradually, beginning with mutations in the 5’ mark of the RNA polymerase end of the transcription initiation site, and then mutating again in the codon 33 of exon 2 in the ancestral ape. A different mutation took place in codon 18 of exon 2 in the ancestral ape of lesser apes roughly 9.8 million years ago. Uricase mutations could have occurred independently in new world monkeys as uricase seems to be less among old world monkeys than many other mammals. Apparently, there is an overall selection pressure targeting uricase disappearance. [Sources here and here]

Scientists have proposed that the fuel sources of fruit fructose were exploited by uricase mutations to improve survival, with Europe as the spot where organisms found refuge against inimical conditions, thereby supporting the Back to Africa Hypothesis but still not ignoring other possible theories for this mutation.

Adenosine triphosphate compounds (used for energy) and cAMP intracellular signaling molecules were carried over to current life from the remnants of the RNA world consisting of life’s earliest forms. It is important to note this since hyperuricemia (elevated uric acid levels in the blood) are associated with ATP depletion and energy troubles.

Dying cells produce uric acid that has been demonstrated to cause immune system inflammation. Uric acid is an immunity enhancement that switches on dendritic and T cells specially found in tissues and skin. Uric acid will increase in times of fuel exhaustion and rapid turnover of proteins during starvation and hibernation, to prompt the organism to forage for food. Uric acid is also associated with preeclampsia that endangers pregnant women with high blood pressure and swelling and proteinuria.

I expect such design blunders to convince people that there is no Designer. What this at least shows me is that the Creator is not perfect nor all-powerful, if He exists. The Creator is different from what popular Biblical doctrines and interpretations portray. It is hardly worthy of praise. I reckon that a common Christian comeback would be to say that sin caused this flaw, which flies in the face of being “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

[This piece can originally be found here.]

Growing up with Christian fundamentalist parents not far from Pittsburgh, Matthew Sabatine recanted religion in college where he took basic courses in philosophy, psychology and sociology. These taught him to doubt the assumptions of religion, learning that people are not inspired by deities but by psychological and social reasons to do religious things. After spending much time reading the Bible, commentaries and Christian apologists, Matthew now believes the Bible to be largely a-historic and that there are naturalistic, brain-based explanations for the supernatural things that people believe they see, hear, and feel. Matthew is interested in studying neuroscience, psychology, biology and chemistry to better understand the world and to fight the good skeptical fight.

Matthew Sabatine blogs on all of these topics at The Common Caveat (thecommoncaveat.com).

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