Resurrecting Extinct Animals|
Science of De-extinction
Has science caught-up with religion? …Maybe or maybe not…
In March of 2013 a conference was held in Washington DC sponsored by National Geographic. At issue was a discussion about which extinct animals should be brought back to life and the ethics or eco system practicalities of recreating them.
No way Jose', you think to yourself. This is Jurassic Park science-fiction.
Not so fast. We've come a long way. The Journal.ie explains:
…"de-extinction rests on a relatively simple premise: it involves taking old DNA samples, reassembling them into a full genome which is then injected into embryonic cells which have had their own DNA taken out, and then finding a suitable living surrogate to give birth."(2013 March 28).
In other words, scientists will use the process of "cloning" to bring these extinct animals back to life.
Wildlife Conservationist's Dream Come True
This is the wildlife conservationist's dream come true! 22 animals are being considered for de-extinction. They include animals such as the Dodo bird (no, it isn't a myth), the Smilidon or saber-toothed cat, the Elephant Bird which reached 10 feet tall and weighed 880 lbs. from the island of Madagascar, the Moa from New Zealand which stood 12 feet tall and weighed 500 lbs., and the beloved Woolly mammoth whose frozen carcasses from the Arctic Ocean's Wrangel Island provide scientists with well preserved DNA.
Humanistic Implications for Believers and Others
The humanistic implications are clear for the Christian and for the unbeliever. What was once strictly an issue of faith is now becoming a firm biological possibility available to all of us. We know that all living life forms contain DNA blueprints that can potentially be used to recreate organisms.
A Hardware Upgrade
However, while man is limited to reviving a cloned life-form that is subject to death, God is not! God can do it better. Dr. Missler suggests that the whole point of 1 Corinthians chapter 15 is to tell us that all believers are due for a fantastic "upgrade" of our bodies and minds (1999, ch. 21-22). It appears that the entire creation will benefit from it (Romans 8:19-21).
The True Transformers
Unlike recipients of humanistic philosophy, Christians are promised new "hardware" (bodies) that will never die or fail us again, complete with our individual memories and history intact. Quite a difference…resurrecting a specific individual versus reviving a cloned sample of a species. Unlike man, God is able to instantly change or tweak our personal DNA, splice our genes or do whatever is necessary to revive each one of us permanently. The bible says it this way:
"Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed…the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die" (1 Cor. 15:51-53, NLT).
Yet, the non believer may not be so fortunate. The Old Testament prophet Daniel warns that "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2).
True Inheritors of De-extinction
I wouldn't want to be brought back to life in a physical body that causes pain and suffering. Would you? But, God's promise to Christian believers is that someday we will awaken with powerful, eternal bodies that God has refashioned for each one of us personally. Our Lord is not a deist god who created everything and left the premises. Rather, He is our personal God who "knitted me together in my mother's womb" (Ps. 139:13). The prophet Job expressed his joy in a personal creator:
"For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon
And after my skin has been thus
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not
(Job 19:25-27, ESV)
Is it possible that it is the Christians who will ultimately benefit the most from a permanent de-extinction program? Are we the true inheritors of eternal life, the true inheritors of new heavens and an earth populated with abundant biological life forms? (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21; Ro. 8:19-21).
"You make him to rule
over the works of Your
You have put all things
under his feet,
All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the
The birds of the heavens
and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through
the paths of the seas."
(Psalm 8:6-8, NASB)
I believe it is those rascals who are called "Christians" who may look forward to a wildly joyous future!
"Your dead will live,
their bodies will rise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell
in the dust!
For you will be covered
with the morning dew,
and the earth will bring forth
the departed spirits."
Isaiah 26:19, HCSB
Biello, David. 2013. Efforts to resuscitate extinct species may spawn a new era of the hybrid. Scientific American. March. Available from: URL. www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=lost-species-revived-from-dna-and-rest… (accessed 28 March 2013).
Brand, Stewart. 2013. The conservation perspective on De-extinction. Huffington Post. Available from: URL. www.huffingtonpost.com/stewart-brand/de-extinction-conservation-_b_2948007. (accessed 28 March 2013).
Missler, Chuck. 1999. Cosmic codes. Coeur d'Alene, ID: Koinonia House.
2013. Scientists want to bring 22 animals back from extinction. The Journal.ie. Available from: URL. www.thejournal.ie/science-conference-de-extinction-840062-Mar2013/ (accessed 28 March 2013).
Zimmer, Carl. 2013. Bringing them back to life. National Geographic Magazine. April. Available from: URL ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/04/species-revival/zimmer-text. (accessed 28 March, 2013).
Psalm 8 painting above by Duncan Long. Artwork used with permission of the artist. View his stunning artwork at: www.duncanlong.com/art/christian.
Valorie Emilio works with and teaches women at the Gospel Rescue Mission in Grants Pass, Oregon, where her husband, Ken, serves as Director. She holds an MA in history from UCLA while Ken earned the MA in biblical studies from Louisiana Baptist University.