“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Romans 8:5, NIV
One of the great mysteries of life is chirality. Carbon atoms can have different hybridization states (sp, sp2, and sp3) which simply means that a carbon atom can have two, three or four other atoms covalently bonded to it. When a carbon atom has four different atoms attached to it (sp3) the molecule becomes chiral. Amino acids are chiral because the central carbon atom has a hydrogen atom, an amine (NH2), a carboxylic acid (CO2H) and one of twenty different “R” groups. If the “R” group is a methyl (CH3) you get the amino acid called alanine. The human body is able to synthesize ten of the twenty amino acids by itself, but the other ten must be obtained from our diet (arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine). If you hold one of these amino acids up to a mirror and look at the mirror image, you will realize that two of the four atoms around the central carbon atom are in the same place, but the other two atoms are “flipped” in the mirror image. It is exactly like putting a right-handed glove on your left hand. Then fingers fit fine, but the pinky and thumb “finger tubes” are swapped.
So why am I boring you with organic chemistry this morning? Because chirality is a miracle. When God made life, He decided that life-proteins would be comprised of only one of the two possible amino acid enantiomers (mirror images). It takes a lot of faith to believe that amino acids could be randomly linked by chance to make functional proteins. It is insane to believe that functional proteins, composed of only the L-chiral form of these twenty amino acids, happened by random processes. It is like believing that if you mixed thousands of red (D-amino acids) and blue magnets (L-amino acids) together in a jar, and then dumped them out onto the table, a string of hundreds or thousands of only blue magnets could form by chance. It is mathematically possible, but would you stake your life on this possibility? A person with any amount of common sense realizes that it would take a guiding “force” or a Creator to explain the origin of chiral peptides.
As I was thinking about the concept of chirality, it occurred to me that Christians have “mirror image” natures too. I can chose to live according to my sinful nature, or I can live under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Apart from Christ, men and women are born spiritually dead, and can only live according to the sinful nature. Those of us in Christ, however, are making a “spiritual chain” of red and blue magnets of sin and obedience everyday by the choices that we make. Are we our building our lives upon Spirit-led decisions, or are we making choices according to our sinful nature? The Scriptures say, “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:12-15, NIV) So are we going to live by sin and chance today, or are we ready to follow the Master with Godly purpose?
Amazing. Thanks for putting science into perspective. I am convinced that the more we learn about science, the more we learn about God. For God did not give “a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear.” Not that everything will ever be explained this side of heaven – but God did make us curious – and that is good.
A life with Christ at the center is truly a full, hopeful life. A life without Him is death.
To paraphrase Francis Bacon, an early father of the modern scientific method of investigation, “a little science will turn man’s heart to atheism, but depth in science will bring him back to God.”
Thank you, Leonard, for bringing more depth in your blog.
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So, thinking again (Sorry! :() If our bodies only produce ten of the necessary twenty amino acids for life, then where did this division come from, evolutionarily? Was there a time when we produced all twenty? Why in the world would there be selective pressure to give THAT up, I wonder?
Interestingly, the lack of l-chiral exclusivity was what messed up the Miller-Urey experiment (along with using the wrong gas mixture for early earth atmosphere!)
And the r-chirals are NOT benign, but POISONOUS to the process.
Every spade turned, every test tube tipped, reveals something even more marvelous about the Creator!
Thanks, Len, for the wonderful and simple description of God’s plan for physical life. May God use it to bring many to spiritual life!
Chirality is a real problem for naturalistic evolution.
For a “non-biased” discussion of the origin of chirality see the following article: http://theastronomist.fieldofscience.com/2011/01/universe-and-life-is-asymmetric.html
Off the subject a little, but did you notice the link on ‘The Astronomist’ to ‘Bad Evolutionary Arguments?’ It’s a hoot!