Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Big Bad Biology Lesson

The Biological Basis of Human Nature

You wouldn’t think a book about hereditary chromosomes would help one understand Christ’s divine and human nature. But I found one! The Biological Basis of Human Nature by H.S. Jennings written in 1930 was placed next to the theology section at the local used book store. The assumptions of the (I assume) late Jennings, a former Zoology professor at Johns Hopkins University, have allowed me to continue about deciphering the spiritual presence of God in the physical inadequacies of man. God's grace inspired more revelation about Our Lady this past Easter mass, which I will wait to share at the end!

First, the 1930s text runs from the basic foundation of chromosomes and their hereditary compatibility and works his way through the chapters to develop environmental adaptations. I love reading these older texts, because it is clear that the author writes with a particular audience in mind. For instance, he states “Marriage and the family, even life-long monogamous marriage, are not an invention that is original with man.” Is he a scholar willing to announce a supreme being? Or when he suggests marriage is a development of organisms’ need to reproduce in the next lines, is he just a plain old searching for rationalism scientist? One fact for sure, the author is a zoologist who systematically explains heredity to perceived environmental adaptations known at the time.

The author goes on to redeem himself somewhat in defining eloquently that, “Human individuals are diverse- in their appearance, and in their behavior. And each has a separate consciousness, a separate identity; so that the inward experience of any one of them is a distinct thing from that of all the others.” Remind anyone of Thomas Aquinas?

I can just imagine the separate conscious as compared to Aquinas’ undisectable intellect and soul!

But I understood the process of heredity and traits easily enough as Mendel observed in his peas. The combination and development of a human is so complex as to prove the divinity within regular man, much less the Son of God made flesh. Even the notes of the original reader said the following after the introduction:

The similarity of individuals is evidently understood. Perhaps it would be better to consciously state and investigate these aspects of people as well as their diversity. Indeed, to a scientist, similarity must be as striking as diversity and understanding these aspects, as important for understanding of our lives.

The reader nails my introspection. Christ’s divine and human nature is striking in its diversity and its similarity. I am then reminded by John Paul II’s Fides et ratio that all things originate in God.

I am still reading the book in between drafts of school work and I think it will take time for Christ to reveal all of His dimensions and intentions to me on the subject. But the surprising revelation, was in connection to the awesomeness of God and how his Son died on the cross for love of me. At the Easter mass, I sat and looked up at the cross and thought, ‘how did God fit into Mary’s womb?’ Just think of the connection beyond Mary not having any sin, between who God is in Christ and how Mary was able to carry Him in her womb. Talk about some pretty cool chromosomes rockin the house in that hereditary line!