Marvel III

Marvel vb \‘märv-ǝl\ : to become filled with surprise, wonder, or amazed curiosity

Molecular biology is sometimes the most mundane of the sciences …but sometimes it simply astounds.

Cholesterol – everybody’s got it. The body constantly balances the cholesterol levels by attempting to maintain homeostasis. Intake and synthesis of cholesterol is normally balanced with degradation (into bile acid) and excretion of cholesterol. If you didn’t get that: when you eat cholesterol you’re body converts cholesterol to bile acid and gets rid of it. When you dont eat it, your body makes its own. This is how we balance. Its called homeostasis.

The main step, the hump in the process, of cholesterol synthesis is controlled by an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase. Never mind what all those letters mean. In short, its a protein in your body for making cholesterol.

When cholesterol levels in the cells are low, a protein called SREBP (sterol responsive element binding protein) is cut off from another protein. It travels into the cell nucleus where it hooks to DNA and says to the other proteins “Hey, I’m important! Come manufacture some stuff.” That stuff would be the aforementioned HMG-CoA Reductase. So the appropriate “machinery” makes haste to that spot of DNA, it manufactures some “stuff” and the cell is happy. The newly manufactured HMG-CoA Reductase then goes to make up some good ole cholesterol. (Cholesterol is very important even though some of us avoid it like the plague.)

As long as SREBP is hanging out with DNA, HMG CoA Reductase is getting churned out. But pretty soon, cholesterol levels in the cell get pretty high. Then its time to put on the brakes.

When Cholesterol levels rise, these other things called “oxysterols” are formed. We dont care what oxysterols are. We just care what they do. They go and get the SREBP and say “hey, thats enough of you sounding the alarm. Just chill out for a while.” And, like a good little boy, SREBP pulls itself away from the DNA. HMG-CoA Reductase levels drop. Cholesterol synthesis s-l-o-w-s down. And everybody is happy.

According to my professor, “it really is an ingenious way” to moderate cholesterol levels.

I find it quite amazing. And I can’t even see it. I have to think about God making this stuff up who knows how long ago and just watching it. And all along, its just waiting for humans to discover it and say Wow. Truly God is amazing to have created such and “ingenious” control device in the cell. Just think of how creative this God must be. Oh, he’s artistically creative. You can see that in a Pacific sunset. But he is also incredibly practical in his creativity. Divinely amazing. What an incredible Creator we have!

Give me Grace

I dont know if anyone else is familiar with Andy Gullahorn.  He’s a songwriter who lives in Nashville.  He’s one of the best songwriters I’ve ever been exposed to.  I’m his number 1 fan (#1).  I told him this when I met him.  “I think you’re my only fan” he said through a grin. Here’s one of his songs.  For your digestion.

 

Last time I was here I swore that I would change

And said only a fool would make the same mistakes.

Being the fool that I am, I’m back again.

 

I’ve got no good excuse. I’m out of things to say.

I’m starting to believe I’ll always be this way

My only hope inside is that you would hear my cry

 

Give me grace for when I can’t stop falling.

Give me strength to help me get back up.

Give me faith without proof.

Give me wisdom and truth.

Give me You.

 

I know I’ve got a choice but I don’t want to choose

I’ve tried that before and I know I stand to lose.

I can not control these failings on my own.

 

Give me grace for when I can’t stop falling.

Give me strength to help me get back up.

Give me faith without proof.

Give me wisdom and truth.

Give me You.

 

Here’s his picture:

Thabiti Anyabwile

The recent Together for the Gospel conference featured one man I was almost altogether unfamiliar with.  The man was Thabiti Anyabwile.  If you dont know of this man, I highly recommend remedying that by reading his testimony.  God truly is a holy and powerful God and it is clearly evident in all of our lives, but maybe especially highlighted in the life of Mr. Anyabwile.

Marvel II

Marvel vb \‘märv-ǝl\ : to become filled with surprise, wonder, or amazed curiosity

Hello boys and girls.  Today we will talk about DNA.  I know the weather outside is great, and we could all use some time in the sun, so lets get through this and get out there!

                 

DNA stands for deoxyribose nucleic acid.  DNA is the information carrying molecule for life as we know it.  (There are some viruses that dont use DNA, but they dont count as life either.)  DNA consists 2 strands of the molecule arranged in a double helix.  Each strand is made up of small molecules called deoxyribose that are connected to each other by an atom of phosphorus (with some oxygen atoms connected to it) known as a phosphate group.  Ribose is a sugar made up of 5 carbon atoms and some associated oxygen and hydrogen. Deoxyribose lacks one oxygen atom.  It is de-oxygen-ated ribose or deoxyribose.

These alternating deoxyribose-phosphate backbones provide structure to DNA but do not carry information.  The information is carried by the bases.  There are 4 distinct bases that make up DNA – adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine.  These are all small molecules that differ rather minimally in their structure.  The are organic rings made mostly of carbon and nitrogen.  Commonly referred to simply by the first letter in their names, the bases pair off, stretching between the 2 backbones of the DNA double helix.  A binds to T and C binds to G.  They bind by relatively weak hydrogen bonds, but with so many of these bonds the molecule is relatively stable.  It generally takes some protein function or strong trauma to break the relationship between the 2 strands.

It is by DNA that God has infused us with the information that is necessary for our physical being.  Without this information, our bodies would be a jumbled mess – so jumbled that they would in no way constitute a body or even a single cell able to sustain life.  The information encoded in our DNA is provides us with not just our eye color, but every little piece of our bodies.  It is truly an amazing molecule.  (It rocks my world!)

Speaking on the origin of life:

DNA has been compared to computer code.  Computer codes contain amazing amounts of information.  I’m writing on a computer right now, and I have no idea how that works.  I’ve never met the progammer of the code that runs my computer.  But I am confident that he exists somewhere.  I am confident that all of the information contained in my computers seemingly endless lines of code did not come about by mere chance.  I am confident that it wasn’t erosion or lightning or random number generators to built the code by which my computer has “life.”  

The life of my computer is not nearly as complex as the life of a human being.  For example, my computer can’t think for itself.  It can only do what I tell it to do.  DNA is like a computer program, except that it is much more complex and holds much more information. Where does this information come from?  Does it come from natural processes?  Can the information contained in DNA which sustains life and is much more complex than computer code come about by chance?  In every instance of information existing that we can find in our universe, it came about by an intelligence.  

Just take Egyptian heiroglyphics for example.  Are they the result of erosion or was there a person who made them?  And we’ve already discussed the computer programmer.  Is DNA the result of a random number generator or is there a Designer?  Did someone really smart make DNA?  There is no natural cause that produces information.  It comes from intelligence (just look at an encyclopedia; look at any information containing system.)

The Bible says that God created the earth.  It also says that it displays the creator.  The creation points to the creator.  DNA shows us that the Creator is so intelligent, so amazing.  Science does indeed point to a creator.  When I look at DNA, I have to say, “Wow!” and worship God.

Christian Parenting

If you attend my church (Ninth and O Baptist in Louisville), chances are you heard this statement last night.  I think it is worth bringing up again however for thoughtful meditation.

Give children big Truths that they can grow into, not small explanations that they will grow out of.

Here, here, Calvin Fowler.  I think thats a dandy idea!

Flesh and Blood

As a blog writer I must admit that there are a few blogs I read, as well.  One of them is by Theologian/Cultural Commentator Al Mohler, who is also the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  I only bring this up because today he has commented on an op-ed piece in the USA Today by none other than my very own cousin, Buzz Thomas.  I know Buzz is a blood relative, but I couldn’t disagree with him more theologically.  Buzz is also a theologian/cultural commentator.  But he’s a theologian of a different color.  He aligns himself with liberal Christianity which gives any and ever practice and alternate idea the “go-ahead.”  

One is forced to wonder “Why bother?”  

Buzz has also written a book entitled 10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can’t Because He Needs the Job).”  I’ve not read it, just about it.  But at the very least, it implies that pastors aren’t man enough to preach on the tough issues.  I’m glad I dont feel that way about my pastor.

Earthquake!

Wow!  Earthquake time.

This morning at roughly 5:35, I bolted upright in bed.  What was that?  I knew it was either an earthquake or that a Boeing 747 had crashed in my backyard.  Hoping for the latter, I glanced out the window to find…

Nothing.

The birds were going crazy.  But not a passenger jetliner to be seen.  

Turns out it was a 5.4 centered near Evansville Indiana.

For more info: 

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,351698,00.html

I was in 2 other earthquakes that woke me up.  I’ve never felt one while wide awake so that I could enjoy it.

The first was in Franklin KY. It was centered in northern Alabama.  It was just a slight tremor lasting about 35 seconds.  The second one was in Mata de Cana, Nicaragua.  It was a little stronger.  I woke up and wondered how sound, structurally, the roof of the building was.  I regretted that I had not paid attention earlier.  The one this morning was much quicker and stronger and scarier.  Whew.  How exciting!  

Where were you?  Did you feel it or sleep through it?  Leave a note.