7 Mar 2021

Extinct genes we lost along the way

Posted by jofr

Our DNA contains about 20,000 genes. They are embedded in large non-coding parts which include a number of dead genes. Dead genes resemble functional genes but are inactive. We have only just begun to unravel their stories. According to this PBS Eons video we are not just defined by the genes that we have gained over the course of our evolution, but also by the genes that we have lost along the way. As an example it cites the gene “Gulop” which was used to produced Vitamin-C but is now non-functional.

Are there any examples for dead genes in holy scripts, i.e. lost genes in the social world? They should hide in the non-coding regions and look like a functional gene which has become inactive and has lost its function or meaning. In my book I try to explain the difference between coding and non-coding regions: non-coding regions are the parts which contain no instructions, rules or commandments but descriptions of geography, ancestry, history or simply actions of actors, for example parts where Paul travels to Cyprus or Moses climbs on a mountain. The important parts are the pieces of advice that Paul writes in his letters or the commandments on the stone tablets that Moses brings back from the mountain. They are the genes which contain rules that affect and change behavior.

If the environment changes during the course of history, a gene can became defunct. Some parts of life remain the same even if centuries go by: wine is still produced from grapes which grow in vineyards, olive oil is made from olive trees and people still would like to have what their neighbor has. Some parts of life have changed though: we no longer make bloody sacrifices of animals in temples, and there are no slaves or witches anymore in the modern world of the 21st century.

An example for a lost defunct religious gene is therefore Exodus 22:18 which says that a witch or sorceress should be killed. While it may have one reason behind the terrible witch-hunts in medieval times, today the meaning of the word witch has changed or “mutated”: there are no such persons anymore except in fictional books from J.K. Rowling. Even if the gene is expressed, it has no function, and will not change any behavior, because it no longer has a meaning. The commandment has become inactive.

Similarly there are no slaves or sacrifices anymore, so Exodus 22:2 and Exodus 23,18 are other examples of inactive genes. Slaves have been the precursors of employees, but today they do not exist anymore. Sacrifices have been the precursors of taxes. All commandments which are about slaves or sacrifices are now dead genes. We no longer sacrifice animals alive but pay taxes to the tax office of the state.

Just like Vitamin-C is essential for humans, money is essential for the maintenance of the church. In this sense the sacrifices of animals and food which no longer takes place is the counterpart of Vitamin-C which is no longer produced. The big Christian churches have lost in some countries (at least in Germany) the ability to generate enough money to pay the maintenance costs for churches and priests. Taxes are collected by the state and the churches receive the money from the state, just like we receive the Vitamin-C we need from external sources.

More about the hidden genes that hide in our holy books can be found here.

( DNA Image from Arek Socha on Pixabay )

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