Masked Warblers and DNA

My husband’s cousin owns a nice bit of farmland right by the Saskatchewan River. He raised cattle, but he and his wife also set up some cabins on their yard and called the place Leaning Tree Guest Ranch. Though they’ve retired now, for years they offered guests a place to stay and enjoy the beauties of nature. One of the things they advertised: because no pesticides had ever been used on the land, this property boasted the largest number of native songbirds in Sask.

One summer my husband and I rented one of their cottages for a few days. In addition to enjoyable visits getting to know our relatives, we spent hours touring the lovely woods. Cousin Paul had made a nice lane right beside the river and kept this trail open for guests to wander.

At some places this lane narrowed down to just a foot path. One morning I was ambling along this path watching the antics of the common yellowthroats, tiny warblers that seemed to decorate the bushes around me like little yellow blossoms. Hyper, curious and cheerful, these cute birds are blessed with distinctive black masks somewhat like a raccoon.

I soon noticed that they were as interested in me as I was in them. They flitted into nearby bushes trying to get a better look at this visitor passing through so I sat down on a fallen log for about fifteen minutes and let them scrutinize me. Soon the branches a few feet away were a-flutter with yellowthroats hopping around seeking better viewing points and holding animated discussions about this odd creature. It’s quite a turn-around for me to be watched by the birds — and really unique to be discussed so openly. Being human — and females are very prone to this — I wondered what they thought of me and how I measured up to others of my species they’d observed.

Thinking of their cute little masks led me to pondering the variation in the warbler genetic pool that produces this unique feature. Some types of warbler have only one yellow spot on the tail while others are totally black and white.

My mind hops over to the marvels of the genetic pool in general. Which leads to some serious questions about the theory of evolution with regard to genetics and DNA.

A Simple-Brained Creature Ponders Evolution

According to the theory of evolution, as we were taught it in school, the earth was sterile. A boiling chunk off the sun and totally dead. The basic elements were present in molten form — guaranteed to kill any living organism. Eventually, they say, this sphere cooled and everything solidified. Except the water. Just why the water didn’t all evaporate into space, how it formed an atmosphere, is a mystery to me, but anyway…

Then one day a cell floating in the ocean came alive. Boink! Hello, world.

I lack faith here. I can hardly comprehend that a tiny pebble, a drop of water, or any other basic element of earth, would suddenly come alive. And not just start breathing air — or filtering oxygen from water — but also have the capability to reproduce! Did it divide? Or did it mate and thus reproduce? Mind-boggling.

Human cells divide all the time, according to the direction of the DNA. Any living cell —even a one-celled life form — must have DNA. So where would the DNA come from?

And then, could this new one-celled being contain in its DNA enough variation to produce a man, a dinosaur, a kangaroo, a mouse, a bird, a butterfly, an octopus, a reptile, a tree, a flower, a melon? According to evolutionists, all these and more eventually evolved from that one cell. I turn this thought over in my mind and come up with another question:

If the DNA to produce such variety were present in this initial one-celled creature, why did it take millions of years (according to the theory) to show up? These days if you have in one couple the DNA for red-hair and black hair, you’ll see this variation in the offspring — and definitely in the grandchildren, where other DNA is mixed in to produce an amazing display.

However, if the DNA to produce all that variation didn’t exist in that first living cell, from where did it come? It must have been added to the mix as time went on — but how? Can DNA that wasn’t initially present in a cell — like the DNA for scales or feathers or fur — somehow come into it from the atmosphere? More mind boggling concepts.

Some talk about genetic mutations and we see this happening today. We see mutations producing dwarfs, albinos, people with a sixth toe, etc. A child may have a harelip just like great-grandpa, but we never see a baby born with a beak, red eyes, a mask, a forked tongue, or talons. The DNA just isn’t there to produce this kind of variation.

According to most religions there is/was a Creator — in English we say “God”; French all him “the Eternal One.” Believers say this Eternal God designed all the creatures of the earth and gave each the particular genetics of their species, with potential for some variation. He also gave every species the ability to reproduce after their kind. And we see that He gave each species a DNA capable of some variation. And He gave them life — because life was his to give.

Now this concept is easy for me to grasp. Nothing mind-boggling here — if we can accept that God always was, even before the earth was.

sometimes it seems the whole theory of evolution is a cloak for “We will not accept that there is a Creator, an Eternal God.” Yet this is a theory its originator, Charles Darwin, tried to play down before he died. He advanced it as a theory, not as an unquestionable truth.

28 thoughts on “Masked Warblers and DNA

  1. I believe in both — the “starter” and the “continuer.” My issue is not whether or not there was a creator, but how actively that being operates within the world as it is. Did he/it/they drop by, do the “DNA in all things” thing, then move on to other planets and places? Did he/they hang around, give us a few little pushes and after that, send a few cards saying, “Hey, good luck with that salvation thing …” I’ve never seen any reason why there needs to be a wall of separation between a creator and the continuation. There can be an eternal one and there can also be science. Did God give us a brain and intelligence just so we could pretend we don’t have any? Now THAT would be an Eternal Waste of Time.

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    • Thanks for leaving your comment. These are valid questions.
      Did God “move on” or stay here? There’s ample evidence to indicate our Eternal Creator is not only here but actively involved in people’s lives. I’ve heard so many personal experiences from sincere and credible witnesses, plus my own encounters with the voice of divine wisdom. Many miracles have been recorded. No one is forced to believe, though.
      When Jesus was on earth he told people, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” He gave us that promise; it’s our choice to follow up or not.

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      • I never argue with belief systems, whatever they may be. In my life, I have known every possible level of belief from atheists (mom) to Jesuits and at least one Cardinal and a wide range of pastors. Not to mention Rabbis. Every believer can explain why he or she believes what they believe and since a belief has nothing to do with logic or science, I respect everyone’s belief as long as it doesn’t limit my freedom to be myself or punish others for being themselves. I also figure that science is here to stay, no matter what you believe, so we all need to come to grips with it.

        As for the rest of it? I don’t have answers. We are all entitled to believe as we choose, but are not welcome to impose those beliefs on others. Moreover, I think we ALL have the right to change our minds about our beliefs because if you never change your mind about anything, you probably aren’t really thinking about it.

        And there is SO much to think about.

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      • I’m with you on this. As the old quote points out, you can state your beliefs but you can’t argue another person into belief. “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
        In my opinion, faith doesn’t negate or subjugate science. If God created this world, then He wrote the working of all the systems, all the science. He decreed the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, that electricity can be conducted by certain elements, etc. Science is a neutral thing. Faith can exist and work together with it because the two are compatible.
        When scientists step into the realm of theories, opinions and unbelief, believers find themselves at odds with scientists, but never with science itself.

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    • Thanks for your comment, Bill. I checked out the book and read in the blurb, the book “does not aim to prove creationism wrong. Rather, by using irrefutable evidence, it sets out to prove evolution right.”
      An interesting approach. The writer may or may not allow for an original Creator.
      The trouble with all this “irrefutable evidence” is that scientists base so much of their “proof” on the assumption of evolution, on the cumulative effect of eons of time. If that assumption is wrong, then the proof is out of whack, too.

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      • Ah, but evolution is more than a theory and nothing to do with belief. It’s an hypothesis and as such relies on examination , confirmation or rebuttal, the very antithesis of unprovable belief.

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      • This is an interesting subject and I’m glad for all the comments. You have me delving into the dictionary to discover the difference. 🙂
        I think the two sides are at what you call a Mexican stand-off. Each side has “proof” but the other side rejects that proof as unfounded or biased, or even self-delusion.
        For me, belief (as in faith in a supreme Being) is quite provable because God answers prayer, but some people would reject all the proof I might offer.

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      • I’ve heard people refer to belief/faith as a worldview, and I can understand that. Likewise evolution is a worldview. Proof is in the realm of fact. If I burn my hand on the stove, the stove was hot. A fact, not a viewpoint.

        As for the truth of that which we now call Faith (Is there a God? Life after death?) the Apostle Paul says it rather poetically:
        “For now we see (as if) through a glass, darkly. But then (referring to after we die) we’ll see face to face.

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      • I don’t think you can prove believe — positively or negatively. Some things are not subject to proof. God is or god is not, but you can’t prove it unless He came by to tell you. That’s what the “leap” of faith is about. At some point, you have to decide to believe and make the leap. I think all religions make a mistake in trying to “prove” whatever they are trying to prove. The willingness to believe is a whole different thing. If you need proof, you don’t believe. These two things come from different parts of your self. You can prove something fact-based, but you can’t prove the existence of something that cannot be physically seen.

        The irony of all this is that we have managed to prove a lot of things that turned out to be entirely untrue. Humans have a nearly magical way proving what we want to prove, whether or not it’s true. And by this, I’m not talking about religion but rather incorrect scientific theories that were absolutely TRUE until one day. they were NOT true.

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      • As for “proving God”, Jesus was in the same boat. All the miracles people saw with their own eyes and yet some people still refused to believe Him. When the tomb guards, Romans and not biased by Jewish beliefs, came to the Pharisees and said, “We saw angels…and the stone rolled away…” the Pharisees paid them to lie about it.

        As to people’s “scientific facts” proved untrue, yes, there’s been some of that. When I was in school we were told that, according to data, the world was headed into another ICE AGE. Then global warming. Now evidence has come forth that the “global warming” scare was proven by data pick-and-choose-and-disregarding. The “Proof” is no longer valid — that in fact the climate is getting cooler.

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      • Mainly, the climate is changing in a lot of ways. Warmer at the poles, colder in other places, wetter in some areas, dryer in others. We are seeing super storms — frequently. Instead of local storms, we see weather stretching across the continent that wanders into places in Europe that have never in memory seen weather like that. The warming was specific to the polar caps — and they ARE melting. This is going to mean a lot to places like Switzerland who get their water from melting glaciers and don’t have aquifers.

        Really, it is hard to know what it means, but it is real enough. The super storms are pretty scary, actually and we had three of them during one 10-day period in March. Humongous storms that spanned many states and a good chunk of the Atlantic, then meandered into Europe.

        How this will work out? I don’t know. But I do think if I were the God of this planet, I’d be really angry with a people who can’t stop ruining the beauty I created. Maybe there is greater truth in the damage we have done coming back to haunt us. We were supposed to take care of this Eden and we have NOT done it. Not even close.

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      • In a lot of ways this is true. Humans have totally changed the topography and therefore the climate in some areas. The “Dust Bowl” in the 1930s was one obvious result. Mind you, we have a limited amount of collected data to do real long-term comparisons.

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      • And the climate has changed quite a bit in relatively recent history. The thing that’s happening NOW is not that it’s changing, but that’s it’s changing very quickly. These super storms are troubling. I had a long conversation about this with a friend of ours who is a meteorologist. Basically, we have a “stressed” planet and the more we mess with things with which we don’t understand — stuff like fracking (yes, let’s dig into the core of the earth — what could possibly go wrong?) — and dumping all kinds of poisons into our water. Another case of “what could possibly go wrong?”

        We are an arrogant bunch of fools, we humans. We think we can do anything we want, however we want, and we never have to take care of anything. We have used God like our personal umbrella. We can mess with the earth and he’ll just take care of us. I don’t think that was the deal, not in anyone’s religion. I think we were charged — ARE charged — with caring for our planet. It is here for us, but it is not our tennis ball to bang around and when it gets dirty and broken, we’ll just get a new ball. I never heard that … did you?

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      • This is a subject we could go on about for days. 🙂
        Basically it’s about greed. What makes money. thankfully some people do have sense and restrain the contamination when it’s discovered. Like DDT.
        But we “Westerners” are rather hypocritical, don’t you think? We want our environment pure and have all manner of regulations, making production costly. Then we buy cheap stuff from poor nations where authorities may turn a blind eye to workplace safety and environmental issues.

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  2. Why not believe in both? Why does it have to be a choice? I do not understand it and I never have.
    You can argue about the degree of faith and whether or not you believe in the active involvement of a creator with our lives, but you can believe in a creator who popped the big bang, threw in some DNA, twiddled here and there with evolution to make things work the way they should without giving up any belief.
    That’s the thing about belief. It’s faith. No one will prove God is or isn’t. It’s faith. You believe or you don’t. No amount of science will change faith, but it doesn’t have to. I know scientists who are believes in science and ARE scientists and I know plenty of atheists who have no particular interest in science except to accept that it exists.

    It isn’t an either/or choice. We got a brain. We can think. We can create. We can innovate. That’s the special thing about humanity. I don’t believe we are supposed to follow a pre-set road with no deviations. If that is the cast, why give us free choice? Why bother to give us freedom at all?

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    • I divided your comment a bit, to make it easier to follow and answer. As to your first few questions, Why not believe in both. Well, in one sense it’s irrelevant whether God created the world through a process of evolution or in an instant. We’re here now. Where to from here is the relevant question.

      In another sense, it’s a question of accepting what the Bible clearly states: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” If the Bible is the Word of God preserved by him through the ages and added to as man could bear the additions, then we should accept it as is.
      “No one will prove God is or isn’t.” Right on. No one will — until one day He himself does. Part of free choice involves either seeking God or rejecting him. Saying “I will believe” or “I won’t.”
      The difference of whether I put my faith and trust in him, or I don’t, will determine the course of my life and the outcome. And I have the freedom, at any time, to change my beliefs, to seek God, to follow the teachings of his Word, or to refuse his guidance. So no, we aren’t to follow a pre-set road with no deviations. We must decide for ourselves the road will will follow.
      I hope this explains what I believe.

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      • I’m not sure what I believe. It’s not nothing, but the precise details continue to elude me. I would find it difficult to believe in nothing. I’ve had too many God-encounters to ignore them. My pastor once asked me if I was going to ask Jesus for a federal ID and passport and I said, “Probably.”

        I find belief complicated, but I find disbelief even more complicated. But being born and raised Jewish, Christianity comes with a slew of its own problems that are not easily overcome.

        I’m a skeptical believer.

        Usually, if anyone asks what I believe, I can safely answer “I don’t know.” Because I don’t know. I also don’t know how much I believe in biblical writing, especially since most of us have only read translations of it that are significantly different than the originals. The originals are not even original, but are also translations. Moreover, even if you get to read the Torah and the Gospels in what is generally believed to be their original languages, we are not sure what the words meant in their true context. No one speaks those languages today. All the study in the world is not going to close the gap of thousands of years of non-use of a language.

        I don’t know really works for me.

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