Do you really want to know…?
I remember when I was in school and biology was all about trees, bugs, water, and air. Pretty simple and basic stuff. Today the field of biology is pushing the envelope of our imaginations taking us places that Star Trek used to only go. I was driving home from Little Rock the other day listening to SiriusXM and a commercial for DNA testing caught my attention. Did you know that for only $99 you can order a kit and have your DNA tested for over 240 diseases, health conditions, and hereditary traits? I went to the website when I got home because it sounded almost too good to be true. But it is true! You can find out if you are pre-disposed to heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, or even male patterned baldness. Amazing. The service also promises to hold your DNA on file and keep you informed of future discoveries based on advances in research.
We are already beginning to see people altering their lifestyle and bodies based on this kind of access to their genetic make-up. The news headlines were prominent months ago when Angelina Jolie chose to have a double mastectomy not because she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but because she discovered that she had the genetic predisposition (or likelihood) toward breast cancer. Her DNA testing confirmed she stood an 87% chance of developing the disease.
This all makes sense in a way. Most people want to live as long and healthily as possible. We want to be there for our kids. I want to walk my daughter down the aisle. I want to go to a football game with my son…and his son. So anything we can do to keep us healthy sounds like a winner.
But there is a potential dark side to this brave new world that the field of biology is opening to us.
Do you really want to know…everything?
Yes, it’s wonderful to be able to intercept a potential disease and head it off at the pass. But what if there is not a treatment for what ails you…in the future. Do you really want to live with the knowledge that you are a ticking time bomb? That you have a 92% chance of contracting ???? ? How healthy is that to your psyche? Is it really helpful to a teenager, struggling with self-esteem issues, to know that he is going to be bald by the age of 27? In these cases, our ability to diagnose far exceeds our ability to treat. Family history has always told us we should be careful about certain things such as how you eat if everyone on your father’s side had a heart attack by age 40. It’s one thing to carry the burden of one or two potential health concerns but how about 240+? And certainly this emerging new field will only grow and will only “improve.” Perhaps we will one day even be able to predict within a year or two exactly how long someone will live (barring accident). Would you really want to know that? Think carefully… sometimes knowledge can be a curse.
These are all merely questions and this whole blog post, to some degree, is an intellectual exercise, though not a theoretical one. For believers, we rest in this thought from the Psalmist… God formed our inner most beings. He knit us together when we were inside our mother’s womb. In spite of the destructive nature of sin, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We each have a season of life granted to us on this earth. And God truly has numbered our days. The point really is not living longer in vain attempts to cheat death, but in living a life that glorifies God and draws others to this most magnificent Creator.