Until this article by Answers in Genesis staffer Dr. Georgia Purdom, I didn’t know some Christians were trying to prove God’s existence (or character) from a protein molecule shape. Here it is, apparently called laminin.
But I am a bit confused as to how a photo of a laminin protein can be such a boon to faith as some Christians say it has been to them. Help me out here? And I don’t want to be rude, but I have a few questions, and I’m sure they’ll be echoed by others who also don’t quite get it.1
1. Is it that all galaxies or protein molecules contain cross shapes?
2. If not, might other galaxies or proteins seem to have other shapes instead? Perhaps even shapes in reminiscent of other religious icons, such as a Star of David or the Islamic Crescent? Perhaps someone with more of a life-sciences background could fill us in on this.
3. Could therefore someone of another religion use the same argument? Would it be valid for their point? If not, should we as Christians use the same line of reasoning? Does Scripture encourage us to do so?
4. Is this much different from people thinking they’ve seen Jesus, the Virgin Mary or a saint in shrubbery, and take it as a sign of blessing?
5. Do Christians really “need” such signs? Should we bring them up as proof that God’s testimony of common grace and Creator is evident in creation? Does this jibe with Christians’ claims to believe the written Word as God’s final and uttermost specific revelation to people?
Cross shapes, whether in molecules or stripped-off bark of a tree, can remind us of Jesus. But I wouldn’t use it as a basis for supposed proof of His Word or for God being our Creator.
In her excellent and recent Answers in Genesis article, Dr. Georgia Purdom kindly and with Biblical basis explores the laminin protein and its seeming cross shape. She starts off with a mention of evangelist Louie Giglio, who with good intentions relates the shape of laminin to the truth of Colossians 1:17.2
While I appreciate Mr. Giglio’s passion for the Word, I would suggest that this type of argument is not a good one to use. [. . .] The main problem with this type of argument is that it appears that something outside of Scripture (in this case, laminin) is vital to know the truthfulness of a biblical truth. Laminin is used to prove a biblical truth. However, we should never use our fallible, finite understanding of the world to judge the infallible Word of God. What we observe in the world can certainly be used to confirm God’s Word (and it does), but our finite observations are not in a position to evaluate the infinite things of God. Only if we start with the Bible as our ultimate standard can we have a worldview that is rational and makes sense of the evidence. [. . .]
The structure of laminin was not made popular until 2008, yet I have no doubt that many Christians before that time have trusted the truth presented in Colossians 1:17 because it is God’s Word. Would Colossians 1:17 be any less true if laminin were not in the shape of a cross? No. If five years from now we discover that the laminin protein actually has a different shape (in fact, some electron micrographs of the protein do not resemble a cross at all, see here, p. 149), would that change the truth found in Colossians 1:17? No, because our belief in the truthfulness that Christ holds all things together should start and end with God’s Word alone!
Looking for Signs
Unfortunately this type of argument—which effectively treats our fallible, finite knowledge of the evidence as superior to God’s Word—is very popular in today’s society, especially among young people. As a former Christian college professor, I have a lot of experience with college students. I lost track of the number of times students came into my office and told me they were going to switch majors or date someone or decide to do something because God had given them a “sign.” I always posed a series of questions to them after hearing about their “sign”: Had they been praying and asking for God’s guidance? Had they been studying the Bible? Had they been talking with spiritually mature mentors? Usually this was met with a half-hearted “yes,” and then it was back to telling me about the amazing “sign.”
Certainly God can use signs to reveal things, and that is evident from Scripture. In Luke 2:12 an angel tells the shepherds, “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” However, Jesus also admonishes those that improperly seek signs (Matthew 16:4). In today’s “fast food” society, many people prefer the “drive-thru” when it comes to knowing God’s truths. A sign is much quicker than studying and reasoning from the Scriptures, taking the time to pray, and discussing God’s Word with other believers.
Young Christians have started doubting God’s Word (especially the book of Genesis) because this is what is drummed into them from the secular world through much of the media and most public schools. Many desperately want to accept the claims of Scripture but have been taught to think, improperly, that the unaided mind is the ultimate standard for acquiring knowledge. That is why the type of argument used with the laminin protein likely resonates with them and many other Christians as well. As one blogger said, “I Believe God Is Sending Us A Message Saying Im [sic] Here And Im [sic] Holding You Together.” Yet Proverbs 1:7a tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (see also Colossians 2:3).
Consider what happens when people try to prove the resurrection of Christ (a biblical truth) using unaided reasoning. Science is clear on this one: dead people do not come back to life. So, does that prove that Jesus did not resurrect? Of course not! Science and human reasoning are not the limit of what is possible; God is the limit. Scripture should be our ultimate standard to understand this miraculous event.
Starting with unaided reasoning and reading our own ideas into the Bible can lead us to all sorts of absurd conclusions. For example, the Ebola virus, which causes a horrific form of hemorrhagic fever that usually results in death, happens to have the structure of what is commonly referred to as a shepherd’s crook. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:14). So, if the shape of laminin supports the biblical truth that Christ holds all things together, then what would we conclude about the Good Shepherd from the shape of the Ebola virus? And if laminin can represent a cross, then why not a sword (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12)? As Christians, we cannot allow our fallible, finite interpretations to supersede the Word of God (2 Peter 1:20).