The New Testament's book of Colossians (one of the thirteen epistles traditionally attributed to Paul, this one addressed to Christians in the city Colossae) reads as follows (in verses 1:12-20 of the King James Version):
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
It is not uncommon for sermons and other Christian devotional/inspirational writings to cite this passage in comparison with some scientific concept: Just as gravity or atoms or molecules are the "glue" that holds the physical world together, so God or Jesus is the force that binds the spiritual world. An example involving laminin glycoprotein cited is one example of this form, with the addition of a graphic meant to illustrate how God's design is evident (in the shape of a cross) in the molecular structure of laminin — what literally holds us together (in a biological sense) was clearly created by He who spiritually holds us together:
A couple of days ago I was running (I use that term very loosely) on my treadmill, watching a DVD sermon by Louie Giglio ... and I was BLOWN AWAY! I want to share what I learned ... but I fear not being able to convey it as well as I want.
I will share anyway.
He (Louie) was talking about how inconceivably BIG our God is ... how He spoke the universe into being ... how He breathes stars out of His mouth that are huge raging balls of fire ... etc. etc. Then He went on to speak of how this star-breathing, universe creating God ALSO knitted our human bodies together with amazing detail and wonder. At this point I am LOVING it (fascinating from a medical standpoint, you know.) ... and I was remembering how I was constantly amazed during medical school as I learned more and more about God's handiwork. I remember so many times thinking ... "How can ANYONE deny that a Creator did all of this???"
Louie went on to talk about how we can trust that the God who created all this, also has the power to hold it all together when things seem to be falling apart ... how our loving Creator is also our sustainer.
And then I lost my breath.
And it wasn't because I was running my treadmill, either!!!
It was because he started talking about laminin.
I knew about laminin. Here is how wikipedia describes them: "Laminins are a family of proteins that are an integral part of the structural scaffolding of basement membranes in almost every animal tissue." You see ... laminins are what hold us together ... LITERALLY. They are cell adhesion molecules. They are what holds one cell of our bodies to the next cell. Without them, we would literally fall apart. And I knew all this already. But what I didn't know is what laminin LOOKED LIKE.
But now I do.
And I have thought about it a thousand times since (already) ... Here is what the structure of laminin looks like ... AND THIS IS NOT a "Christian portrayal" of it ... if you look up laminin in any scientific/medical piece of literature, this is what you will see ...
Now tell me that our God is not the coolest!!!
The 'glue' that holds us together ... ALL of us ... is in the shape of the cross.
Immediately Colossians 1:15-17 comes to mind.
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth , visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things HOLD TOGETHER."
Call me crazy. I just think that is very, very, very cool.
Thousands of years before the world knew anything about laminin, Paul penned those words. And now we see that from a very LITERAL standpoint, we are held together...one cell to another....by the cross.
You would never in a quadrillion years convince me that is anything other than the mark of a Creator who knew EXACTLY what laminin "glue" would look like long before Adam even breathed his first breath!!
We praise YOU, Lord!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This particular example is based on the work of Christian pastor/evangelist Louie Giglio, as seen in the following video clip:
Discussions about whether or not nature evinces signs of a purposeful (Christian) creator are theological/scientific debates that can (and do) fill volumes, so we'll just note a few items to consider:
- The structure of laminin antedates by many thousands of years traditional Christian accounts of the life of Jesus.
- A cross-like shape is a very simple structure that is commonly found in elements created naturally or accidentally.
- It is uncertain whether the form of the original crucifixion device was a stake, a T-shape, or the familiar cross of modern Christian iconography.
- One could find the shape of laminin to be reminiscent of a variety of common symbols aside from the cross. Some viewers say it reminds them more of a caduceus:
And when the illustration is returned to its original orientation, many liken it to the appearance of a sword:
- Perhaps most important, molecular diagrams like the one used here are generally intended to represent those structures in ways that make them easy for humans to conceptualize and work with, not to be exact reproductions of the molecules' actual visual appearances. One electron micrograph of EHS-laminin, for example, looks like this:
In other images of an actual laminin molecule, it looks more like a mermaid than a cross: