Human Genome Project - What is it?
The Human Genome Project, comprised of the U.S. Department of Energy and NIH Human Genome Programs, is the national coordinated effort to characterize all human genetic material by determining the complete sequence of DNA in the human genome. The Human Genome Project's ultimate goal is to discover and map all of the approximately 35,000 human genes and make them accessible for further biological study. To facilitate the future interpretation of human gene function, the Human Genome Project is also conducting parallel studies on the genetic makeup of other organisms.
Human Genome Project - The DNA Sequence Has Been Revealed
After years of multi-billion-dollar research, the Human Genome Project and Celera Genomics (a non-government biotechnology company) jointly announced drafts of the human genome sequence in 2000. By mid-2001, scientists associated with these ventures had presented the true nature and complexity of the digital code inherent in DNA. We now understand that there are approximately 35,000 genes in each human DNA molecule, comprised of approximately 3 billion chemical bases arranged in precise sequence. Even the DNA molecule for the single-celled bacterium, E. coli, contains enough information to fill all the books in any of the world's largest libraries. We now appreciate that the DNA structure is one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time, only first discovered at its base level in 1953 by James Watson and Francis Crick.
Human Genome Project - What it Means for the 21st Century
As a result of the work of the Human Genome Project and other genetic scientists, including the recent media-hyped cloning of Dolly the sheep, we now realize that the possibilities of genetic manipulation are profound. With this awesome technological discovery comes dramatic potential for significant abuse. As such, we need to keep a careful eye on "science" and continually remind the popular culture that technology is not the supreme authority. Regardless of a person's DNA, every human being is a unique and special individual created by God. Genetic engineering seems to accept that our DNA is the entirety of who we are. In contrast, the Bible teaches that every person has a soul, separate and distinct from our genetic material. When a person dies, the soul continues to exist. Therefore, contrary to general scientific principles, we are more than a combination of genetic code and 17 naturally occurring organic elements. The Director of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, is a Christian who highlights the positive aspects of genetic research, "We have caught the first glimpse of our instruction book, previously known only to God." While this is an exciting statement, we must never lose sight of the fact that no matter how "smart" we get as a society, we are not God and should not put ourselves in a position to play God. Since we live in a post-modern society influenced more by humanism, materialism and moral relativism than by Judeo-christian values, we must keep careful tabs on the potential uses and abuses of human genetic engineering.
Human Genome Project - A Monstrous Final Thought
The Human Genome Project is a phenomenal undertaking. Unfortunately, it reminds us that some of the worst events in human history have occurred when technological expertise was united with spiritual emptiness. Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, explains it perfectly in the introduction to her famous book, "Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the World."
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