The seat of God: the fight for the survival of species
Different comments by two experts prompted this work. The first comment was by an expert in animal production, breeding and genetics. He said that he watched James Watson’s recent interview in which Watson said that the greatest thing that happened to him was that his father never believed in God. It may be understandable why Watson said that. This is because if his father had believed in God then Watson may not have done the work on DNA, which he did with Crick. His father’s belief can influence him and there would have been no need for a search into the secret of life since God created all things. The same expert, in his discussion on DNA/genetics, said, to him, DNA/genes is where God is situated. He is a Catholic so he believes in God but he is one of those who are frank enough not to allow their belief to affect their judgment. This is because he frankly said, “I have never seen God and I do not think any of you have seen him.” He said he does not know where God is found but once again, as the expert said, the DNA is the seat of God.
The second comment was by an expert in biochemistry while discussing the abnormalities of haemoglobin. He said that sickle cells are resistant to malaria. So he asked, what would have been the fate of those with the disorder if they lack the resistance? He went ahead to answer, that God works in a mysterious way because God knows it will be so fatal for people with sickle cell if they are not resistant to malaria attacks. Therefore, a sickle cell has the ability to fight back malaria infection. The main point from what the biochemist said is that the cell had to look for a way to survive so it device means to resist malaria attacks which usually attack normal hemoglobin.
The writer considered the two comments by these experts and with his knowledge in science was able to couple the comments. It is known that Charles Darwin put forward the theory of evolution by natural selection while theologians put forward the doctrine of creation by God. That is we have the Darwinism and the creationism. Some people, mostly the creationism, had asked if evolution has stopped while others asked if creation has stopped or is God still creating more things. The question everyone should ask is what is at work; creation or evolution?
It is a known fact from scientific studies that organisms can develop resistance to harmful changes in their environment. For instance, it is understood that some bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics that were previously used to treat such bacterial infections. Those species that failed to produce such resistance that will enable them to survive in their new environment, in this case, chemical environment, will be extinct while those that survived in such environment must undergo changes that will enable them to do so and such changes can lead to transformation of the species to equip them for their survival.
A cell has been defined merely as the smallest unit of life and as such an erythrocyte (red blood cell) can be considered a living group which means red blood cells have the right to fight for their survival. The lifespan of the erythrocyte is about four months, but a sickle cell as found in sickle cell disorder does not live long because of lyses leading to anaemia which is sickle cell anaemia.
Haemoglobin and sickle cell
There are various forms of haemoglobin (Hb) like HbA, HbM, HbF, and HbS among others. Haemoglobin A is the standard adult haemoglobin while haemoglobin S is the sickle cell haemoglobin. The sickle cell haemoglobin is formed because of a point mutation. That is it is a monogenic disease because of base substitution in DNA. The right codon is GAA or GAG but it changed to GUA or GUG consequently glutamic acid at position six of the protein part of the haemoglobin is replaced by valine in the beta chain of the haemoglobin.
This single replacement of amino acid during protein synthesis affects the protein folding of the HbS. The electrical charge property of HbS is affected because Glutamic acid which is polar is replaced by a non-polar, Valine. The primary function of haemoglobin is the transportation of oxygen, and carbon dioxide in the circulation and because the protein folding property of HbS is affected, it forms a fibrous precipitate which makes it sickle and readily lyses. These precipitates are formed at low oxygen tension part of the circulation like the venous part. It means that the disorder has a relationship with oxygen concentration.
Sickle cell is an Autosomal recessive and as such can be inherited as HbSS, HbSC, HbSbeta+ thalassaemia, HbSbeta0 thalassaemia. A carrier with HbAS or HbAC is more likely to be resistant to malaria, at least to some extent by some mechanism that is related to the low oxygen concentration, which denies the plasmodium the oxygen to survive, expect in unusual cases.
It is clear that sickle cell is a point mutation but what we have failed to ask is what caused the variation in the first place? From the beginning, Epidemiology showed that sickle cell was prevalent in those environments that had malaria infections. Why does it frequently occur in a population commonplace to malaria? Can it be that the erythrocytes had to fight for their survival in those environments and as such developed a mechanism to protect them from malaria attacks? Maybe the transformation/protective mechanism led to the synthesis of HbS however since it is an inheritable trait, those who inherited the HbSS could not survive long enough while those who inherited HbAs had better chances of survival in such environment.
We may not be sure of what caused the point mutation that led to HbS, but we know that some factors can lead to gene mutation and we also know that organisms have the inbuilt ability to fight for their survival. The recent improvement in genetics and technology has made it possible to manipulate the gene/gene pools to obtain a desired trait. Therefore, is it possible that Gene is where God is situated, and he uses it to bring changes to his creations? Or is it nature and the environment that decides what happens and forces the species to alter their genes or do the species have an inbuilt mechanism which enables them to change their genes to fit into their changing environment.
These are questions that those in support of creation or evolution should answer. But if one thing is absolute, then it is that species fight for their survival although we do not know if their creator helps them to survive by creating new species we are aware that they do it at the seat of their God which the Genes where changes are made for their survival.