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I am going to diverge from my usual discussion items relating to doctrines in this post. I want to spend some time rehearsing some of my thoughts on genetics and the human soul. I have a son who is finishing his PhD in Molecular Biology at Berkeley. I have been ‘forced’ to educate myself on the topic so as to be conversant with him on his research and studies.

First, please understand that I am by training a computer engineer so this relieves me of any claim of expertise in my presentation on the topic. Here is some base information on the topic. The human genome is made up of 3.2 billion base pairs. These base pairs are made up of four different sugar and phosphate-based molecules which have been identified as adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C) and guanine (G). As you may know, DNA is represented by a twisted ladder with pairs of these ‘chemicals’ loosely mated together by nitrogen based compounds where adenine and thymine (A-T pair) and cytosine and guanine (C-G pair) form the steps. So, you have the 3.2 billion rung ladder that represents the set of instructions that are used to guide the operation of our bodies. These base pairs are grouped together by function into genes of which there are about 30,000 in humans. These genes are grouped into chromosomes. All living things use this same template of base pairs and genes. The number of base pairs range from about 1.8 million in the influenza bacteria to 100 million in plants to 2.6 billion in mice and up to our 3.2 billion pairs.

Every cell in our body (with the exception of sperm and eggs) contains the complete DNA string described above. Every cell also only ‘activates’ a small portion of its genetic information in the production of proteins which are necessary for the purpose of that particular cell. In the normal operation of a cell, the nucleus or center of the cell manufactures a particular protein that is then transported to the edge of the cell where it is used for some purpose. So, a liver cell has the same base information as a skin cell but they operate completely differently with selected gene being activated in each circumstance.

Hopefully that is enough background for what I would like to discuss. For those interested in this topic, I would highly recommend the book Genome by Matt Ridley.

One aspect of this topic that amazes me is how incredibly complex the process is to get us to a functioning human being. What begins as a single cell, the union of sperm and egg, results in a uber-complex body with each subsystem working off the same ‘template.’ As this original single cell begins to divide, it is only a few days before these cells are called upon to begin to specialize. The mass of cells, which were originally identical, now are called upon to form every organ, bone and muscle found in our bodies. How does one cell know what it is to do? Right now there are only theories on how a cell at one end of the mass of cells is guided to start forming the head and its components while another at the other end works of the feet and toes. How do these cells ‘communicate?’ At this time, I have only found theories that suggest the original mass of cells differentiate based on the presence of electrical or chemical markers that vary by the position in the cell mass. I find these theories woefully inadequate in explaining how my fingers and finger nails formed at the end of my arms rather than on the top of my head ;-].

The other amazing aspect of ‘life’ is commonly referred to as ‘instinct.’ Those innate abilities that we are born with that seem to be hard-wired into our brains. One example is that kittens separated from their mother before their eyes are opened will attempt to cover their fecal matter. Is there some ‘universal’ cat etiquette that is carried into the next generation?

One of my favorite examples of instinct is the cuckoo bird. There are species of cuckoo bird that do not build nests but simply lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. The cuckoo egg is ‘programmed’ to hatch before the eggs of the host nest and the young cuckoo chick pushes the other eggs out of the nest. Having removed the competition, the young cuckoo bird now is nurtured by the host. The thrush, in this picture from Wikipedia, continues to feed what is an obvious (to us) intruder. I think that the positive aspect here is that there are no bounds to the love of a parent. Looking at the size of the nest, you can get some perspective on how ‘out of context’ this situation is.


So… how does the young cuckoo bird know to push the other eggs out of the nest? It had no clues from its parents or the environment to trigger this behavior. How is this invasive species able to continue this behavior over generations?

These are only a couple examples of instinctive behavior among living beings. How does a human baby begin life with the innate ability to suckle from the breast of their mother? How does a sea turtle deposited as an egg in the sand of the beach inherently know to move toward the ocean when it emerges from the egg? How does a spider know how to create a web even though they are separated from any examples?

These are all questions related to how species-related information is transferred to offspring. Through the miracle that is the development of a living organism; basic skills are, somehow, implanted in the brain. In many cases, these implanted skills, or instincts, are necessary for survival.

So, this brings me to the crux of the matter. How can a sequence of sugars and phosphates linked by nitrogen-based chemicals govern the incredibly complex process in the development of a living entity? How can this sequence of chemicals develop into a cognitive being with certain skills imbedded in their brain?

As I peruse the available scientific literature, I find references to this information contained in what is currently called ‘junk DNA;’ segments of our genetic material that has no apparent purpose. There are other theories regarding how this information is carried in the DNA structure but none seem to satisfy the programmer in me. We share with other mammals between 70 and 90% of our genetic material. The unique material is what differentiates us physically from the mice and birds and whales in the world. I find it implausible that the same code used to build the physical body could also contain the programming.

In my mind, the argument is the same as saying a computer parts list when assembled correctly will automatically contain the operating system. As an engineer, I know that I can easily assemble a computer if I have all the physical elements needed. I also know that the computer will not be viable until an operating system is installed. The operating system is the set of instructions needed to make use of the physical components.

Our brain and the associated body are not viable without the equivalent operating system software. In my opinion, the ‘instincts’ we are born with partially represent the fundamental equivalent to this operating system. This is where I need to inject the spiritual aspect of this discussion. I hold that we, as souls or living beings, are a combination of spirit and body.  I believe the spirit which is embedded in the physical body at some point when the cells begin to differentiate carries with it the basic information needed to act in the ‘role’ defined.

It is easy for me to believe that all living things are a combination of physical and spiritual entities. The spirit of the yet to be born bird, or spider, or for that matter, any other living thing brings with it the necessary instincts and basic operating system to function in the context of its existence. We begin with this basic instinct to build our knowledge. I believe that this basic toolkit with which we are born gives us not only the basic tools but also the intrinsic uniqueness that every living thing enjoys.

As I contemplate the incredible complexity of my own body and as I have watched the process wherein new life is brought about, I find it much easier to believe in a creative God than in evolution’s process of trial and error .

From Genesis, chapter one, we read:

20  And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22  And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

The miracle of life is a testimony to me of the existence of this unseen world. There are clues all around us, if we but pay attention.

What think ye?

8 Responses to “Instinct and the Soul of a Living Being”

  • Rob:

    The enormous complexities of the process you described is phenominal and amazing. And as complex as the logistics of that process is concerned, it’s coming to life in a particualr order, simply suggests Divine Will.

    A will that understands the Natural Patterns & ( Free Desires) of Matter…Out of chaos comes order…According to Devine Will. An order placed upon all things that can only be built upon & orchestrated through an order higher than itself.

    If Brigham is right about ALL THINGS containing some degree of intellegence, then it mearly boils down to the will of a higher order imposing it’s Good will upon things of a lower order. And the pattern of formation when it comes to a developeing a Body of any type, is something that takes form through the assistance of the Higher Will made of a more complex structure than itself.

    Spirit is Eternal and all matter consists of a degree of Spirit, if Spirit can equate to intelligence.

    So Nature is repleate with EVERYTHING that has Eternally Existed because Spirit is Eternal. And God is only able to Replicate that which already exists.

    God did not invent Atoms or matter but is able to use it’s base components to arrange them only according to that which already exists as Spirit or intellegence, comprising varying degrees of complexity based on the number of combined elements which consitutes something of a higher order of things….His thoughts become Reality because His thoughts ARE reality.

    He gives New ( additional ) Life to that which is already alive.

    I would suggest that EXPERIENCE is the key to Replicating Life. Once it has been done FOR you…Eventually you get the hang of how it’s done…Like going from being fed as a baby to learning to eat on your own.

    Since Free Agency seems to be a key element in God’s Plan, and all things have intelligence, then maybe Creation is mearly an act of ALLOWING things ( Free Agency ) to reproduce on a higher level of physicality than what they already are but remain in their own order. A “NATURAL” process in Harmony with God because God is in Harmony and in Agreement with Nature…( Mutual respect and Free Agencey being practiced at Every Level of existence ) with God calling the shots.

    By God combining ALL elements of Nature to form the Body of Man, is to infer that ALL Nature COMBINED, is by SPIRIT, Man Himself…That of the Highest Order of Complexity in combing the SPIRIT of Nature.

    Maybe this is how the Very First God came about. Nature having intelligence, got together and combined to form something of Greater Worth by having COMBINED thier efforts to Create something of Geater Value than any one single component of Nature. Then once that Highest combined order was completed, it had within ITSELF the ability to serve the lower single entities in nature on an individual order level and have the ability to combine and raise THEM to a higher level.

    Kind of what like men try to do to combine the aspects and characteristics of himself to create a Robot with the intent that it should serve him.

    Afterall…God IS subject to complying with the Laws of True Nature in order to maintain Hamony & Peace among ALL things in Nature. But at the same time, He has become of Greater intellegence than that which He complies with, so now Nature ALSO becomes subject to His Greater COMBINED intellegence and He is EXPECTED to serve the Purpose of ruling them as a WHOLE in order to prevent chaos which was the PUPOSE of His being created to begin with.

    This would explain why in the creation story, that Darkness & Chaos were around before Light & Order displaced it.

    All things were FIRST Unorganized and Chaotic and some entity among those elements of Nature got to talking with others about how they could get together and come up with something better than Chaos. And before you know it they came into being through the process of Natural Selection of increasingly combining Intellegence and complexity to eventually arrive at forming the first God.

    This would explain the logic of Natural selection but not in some random form but by design & intellegence for the purpose of bringing ORDER out of chaos.

    And though He was given the Combined Intellegence they pocessed and had power over them, He recognized and Appreciated that sacrafice they made and the Pupose for which it was done and used His Intellengence to serve THEM in Kind…Give order & Progression to Chaos.

    In other Words…Nature initially gives Birth to ITSELF in the form of God…That which stands above ALL Nature. And in turn has the power to REPLICATE Himself based on His own new order….Just as ALL things in Nature are capable of doing.

    I think THIS is what Creation is all about…God having the power to replicate himself according to his own order being on the Highest Rung of the Latter of Creation and mearly assisting the organization of processes that are BY NATURE, independant of themselves ( Free Agency ) and are being combined perpetually by God to replicate things of the highest order of happiness HE was given by Nature and is the reason He Loves it so much and is the reasons why WE are here.

    But NOT loving Nature more than it’s COMBINED ELEMENTS….Man. And is willing to Sacrifice things of a lower order for the benefit of man. And Natures willingness to Sacrifice itself for the Greater cause of permitting more life to come forth.

    Just as Nature Respects, Loves and is willing to answer to it’s Higher Combined components of it’s OWN Creation…God.

    Is it not better to enjoy the combined aspects of Life enjoyed by Husband and Wife ? How better to perpetuate that Blessed Existence than by combining THEMSELVES to form another EXPRESSION of that Joy…Children ?

    Yes. I believe this is how the first God may have come about. It would explain the Nature of Relitivity of ALL THINGS as Einstine puts it, as well as explain Evolution but with the understanding that INTELLEGENCE brought that about. And would also explain why God & Nature seem to be so BEHOLDEN to one another.

    He does a Good Thing by tending to the Good Needs of ALL things below Him, as He Himself proclaims at the end of each day of creation described in Genisus and may be retuning a favor in KIND…

  • Rob:

    Does any of this make any sense to anyone besides me ?

    It’s the GREAT CIRCLE OF LIFE as I am able to percieve it and how ALL THINGS are connected.

    This would also explain how God is capable of comprehending ALL things in Nature because in essence, He is the COMBINED INTELLEGENCE of the things that exist in Nature, that “initially” created a God to Govern it’s Body of Varying levels of intellegent matter. Just as we follow that same pattern of a bunch of unorganized people getting together to choose a leader for themselves…Someone of a High Combined Intellegenge to rule over them.

    Once the first God was created, ( God being a title for both MALE & FEMALE) then they had within themselves, the ability to replicate on that same order. And things move on forever in that fashion.

    And the elements THEMSELVES in their seperate orders now, are awaiting THEIR opportunity to combine and become the Next Man & Eventually God. And ALL things are able to progress to this Highest level through COMBINATIONS of Matter which IS SPIRIT & INTELLEGENCE.

    This obviously takes a LONG TIME…say FOREVER…

    And this gives creedence to the Notion that God is NATURE without giving in to the negative conotations that God IS Nature according to what Nature Freaks of today espose as Nature ruling over God. But is not ALL of what is said, contain SOME degree of truth ?

    Satan can distort that concept by adhearing to the idea that Chaos is preferable over order. And our ignorantly assuming that some how Nature and Man can exist in some disconnected fashion.

  • Rob:

    Maybe the notion that all matter contains intellegence and that the Good matter must have worked this whole thing out, must mean that DARK or ANTI MATTER that tries to Cancel out physical matter on contact, comes from those elemental components that make up the intellegence of Satan & his followers.

    They contain less SUBSTANCE ( Character, Love, Kindness, ect…) than does matter we can SEE that presents it’s Greater Physical form to those of a Higher degree of PURPOSE in Life that was CREATED for those of Greater Substance by those POCESSING it…

  • Rob:

    In the end I believe the Big Clue to my theory comes from something in the scriptures that describes Christ as being something….The Light.

    Light is now believed to be the simplest form of Matter. And if it all began with the Intellegence of “Light”…. that implies that Light is the ROOT or SEED of Jesus’ own intellegence, which contains the intellegence of ALL THINGS in NATURE because his very Body pocesses every one of those elements of Nature combined in their most COMPLEX form of anything found in nature.

    So to get back to your original coments….Yes it’s AMAZING how things work.

  • Rob:

    The more “LIGHT” we have been born with, the more comprehensive our understanding will be of God’s Creation. For the intellegence of “Light” is the only thing that is capable of comprehending itself.

    This would explain the reason why someone who is more atuned to “Darkness”, isn’t capable of comprehending their own True Nature and why Jesus is Rrefered to as the “LIGHT”. “Light intellegence” is the Seed of His OWN intellegence.

    The bad guys see themselves as being Good & Right & when confronted with the truth…it is viewed as an attack on their Goodness that MUST be delt with by force. ( Anti Dark Matter Intellegence coming in contact with Positive Lighted Matter of intellegence ) and trying to destroy it.

    But it is this VERY CONTACT with these two opposite things that forms the Creative Process itself….Order & Light coming from the stagnent situation of these two entities existing side by side with the Dark intellegence Chaos not being content with Light intellegence and strives to clash with it.

    This generates a need for Light to become more organized in order to Preserve itself from destruction and this INTERACTION produces LIFE ( Purpose and Motion with a Goal in mind to preserve itself ) and breaks the stagnent existence of Non Motion ( Lifelessness ), or Non Need to progress.

    This is why God says there must needs be opposition in all things. Without it…There can be no life. Nothing of intellegence would have a reason to MOVE or to become Animated.

    Things would just Lifelessly sit there.

    This I believe, is what God is refering to when He begins the Story of the Bible with Darkness vrs. Light.

    It ALL began with THOSE two basic elements of Intellegence and each progressed to becoming God’s, with the one representing the Light, having the Greater Intellengce and coming out on top and seperating the Darkness from itself.

    This to me is how the First God came into being and Our God is LITTERALLY repeating this story of the FIRST GOD Creation that stems from these two sources of intellegent Matter & Anti Matter that eventually became ( God & Anti God ).

    Our God and how ever many else there are besides the First God, are repeating this same story to THEIR Creations. Just as ADAM the First Man molded in the Image of our First God, is the FIRST to be Created from “THE DUST OF THE EARTH”….(Nature that had given Birth to itself as our FIRST GOD in response to a particular comprehended need to preserve itself from the darkness).

    All the other Gods from that point foward, come from other Gods of their own kind, who then had the intellegence to reproduce itself according to it’s OWN KIND that is given MUCH emphasis in the endowment cerimony as to things of each order being able to bring about their own kind. But they STILL comprise the Elements of Nature as did the First God…So ALL THINGS remain connected and consistent with Good Order.

    This whole senerio explains how Evolution CAN mesh with God, if we come to understand that through the intellegent design of Nature, the First God came into being and then mearly had the capacity for reproducing Himself.

    I really DO think we have a LOT to learn from our Lamanite Brothers who Understand this “NATURE” relationship thing, better than we do. And is something I’m sure will begin to take place as we are called to GATHER to Zion and “COMBINE” our intellegence with ALL those who hold a portion of the overall KEY OF KNOWLEDGE of Good & Evil and how they came into being and became personafied as GODS.

    What do YOU think ?

  • Rob:

    If we are to know the Secret of OUR GOD, then we must come to understand that even HE is a mear “IMAGE” of HIS God and that the secret to HIS ( The First God’s Creation ) is Answered in the Very First lines of the Bible designed to REVEAL this secret.

    There was first “DARKNESS” Then “LIGHT” and the Darkness did not comprehend the Light. But the Light comprehended the Darkness. And Take this LITTERALLY and not as a Metaphore, as the Very begining of Intellegence that is contained in the Matter of Light ( The seed of Goodness ) and the antithisis of that Goodness intellegence that is attributed to Evil….”Darkness.”

    It becomes a Metaphore only AFTER that first God has brought about another of his own kind.

    The No Begining & No End aspect of creation ONLY begins to take place once the second God begins repeating the process and it becomes an eternal perpetuation process at the level of being a God…That which Originated as a Combined Intellegence of ALL NATURE.

    As far as where ALL NATURE begins, it would be Light And Darkness using it’s intellegence to push into areas BEYOND what would normally be required if OPPOSITION between the two did not exist…Necessity becomes the Mother of Invention.

    In light of the fact that Darkness seeks to destroy the Light by enslaving it, Free Agency then becomes that aspect of intellegence that Motivates intellegence to Action ( Life ) and attemps to Preserve itself.

    When reduced to it’s lowest form in the form of Litteral Darkness & Light, as it was in the very begining, it becomes a Race of progression to see what will Advance in the knowledge of how Light is to preserve itself.

    It ultamately winds up with GOD becoming the Solution to this as the original
    two entities progress in their intellegence and push foward through the creative process of Light taking the first step into using it’s intellegence to morph into something MORE than what it was to begin with, in order to be able to gain power over Darkness. And this becomes the Evolutionary Process of selection that we observe in Nature but fail to understand it’s mechanism that causes it to work.

    It’s actually the First Intellegent form of Matter ( Light & Darkness ) that clash as opposing opposites of PURPOSE and each becomes animated ( Comes to life ) based on the need for one of those entities to preserve itself.

    This morphs all the way through the chain of Nature as we have come to know it and eventually combines all it’s individual Morphed forms of intellegence to finally produce what we know as God.

    This does not contridict what we know of Our God as being the Creator of OUR EXISTENCE & everything we SEE in it, and being the Lord of the elelments of Nature. He was CREATED to BE that way after becoming the Image of someone his own kind who was initially created by those COMBINED lesser intellegences.

    He was created after someone of his own kind (AFTER) Nature Created the First God and came into being as Nature had ALREADY produced what it needed to survive…A God of Combined “NATURAL” intellegence to rule over the chaotic mixture ( Good & Bad ), of intellegent matter.

    It all makes sense if you attribute Intellegence to Light, becuase we now understand Light to be actually matter and ALL matter has intellegence.

    And Jesus IS the Light. Or in other words, Light now becomes the SEED of His intellegence and the TWO are identified as being the same thing. Only Jesus pocesses EVERYTHING that Original Light became… ( The First God ) because he reproduced Himself after his own kind … (NATURE at it’s combined BEST intellegence) which formed to create the First God in which ALL other God’s are Like Images.

    It forms a Never ending circle of creation that DID have a begining.

    Everything ABOUT the Scriptures teaches us there WAS a begining and it began with Darkness & light and moved on from there.

    Even Adam who is a Type of Begining as far as God is concerned, reflects this picture of there being a FIRST GOD who, like Adam, was formed from the elements of NATURE in the Creative Process.

    You get Evolution to mesh with Eternity as soon as the second God comes into being and the process never ends…

  • Rob:

    Gee…I’m glad I finally got to solve that age old problem of God vs. Evolution.

    You can see, that for every Evolution there IS a solution.

    Sorry for the Long String of comments. I just sort of made this up as new thoughts would come to me.

  • Rob,
    I have read through your comments twice and I am still having a hard time wrapping my mind around what you are saying.

    I do believe that ‘progression’ in a similar vein to your description does rule our eternal existence. We progress and continue to gain wisdom and knowledge until we are ready to take on the next level of complexity. Life as I see it is a series of lessons that we must learn.

    I also agree that there is no good if there is no evil. As Lehi stated, there was no purpose in creation otherwise.

    Does ‘nature’ inherently have the rules which govern the acquisition of knowledge? Is God our God because he knows these rules which we can learn and, by so doing, become gods ourselves. That, my friend, is where my feeble brain starts grinding its gears…

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