Is Epigenetics Basically Good Stewardship and Can Christians Support As An Alternative to Gene Manipulation?

I have recently come across the science of epigenetics because of the new diet I am using to fight inflammation. Epigenetics is the science pertaining to gene expression. In “The China Study” (written by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and his son Thomas M. Campbell II, MD) Dr. Campbell wrote:

"Genes function only be being activated, or “expressed,” and nutrition plays a critical role in determining which genes, good and bad, are expressed. We can safely say that the origin of every single disease is genetic. Our genes are the code for everything in our bodies, good and bad. Without genes, there would be no cancer. Without genes, there would be no obesity, diabetes, or heart disease. And without genes, there would be no life.

This might explain why we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to figure out which gene causes which disease and how we can silence the dangerous genes. This also explains why some perfectly healthy young women had had their breasts removed simply because they were found to carry genes that are linked to breast cancer. This further explains why the bulk of resources in science and health in the past decade has shifted to genetic research."

Dr. Campbell goes on to explain that some genes remain dormant while others express themselves. “What causes some genes to remain dormant, and others to express themselves?”. Of course Dr. Campbell’s focus in his book is all about nutrition, but as Dr. Campbell and other geneticists point out, our environment causes genes to be turned “off” or “on”.

Recently I picked up a new “National Geographic” magazine and the whole magazine is called “Your Genes - A User’s Guide - 100 Things You Never Knew”. Most of the magazine talks about gene manipulation and way over on p. 102 it lists the 97th thing we didn’t know called: “epigenetics”. It’s as though they don’t want to put much if any emphasis on epigenetics and they treat it as part of science that they have to include. On the last couple of pages National Geographic writers ask: “Are We Playing God? Should We?”

Some would say that in a sense, epigenetics could be a very vague way to manipulate genes, but I think it is good stewardship and could be the right way to “manipulate” or turn our genes “on” or “off”. On the other end of the spectrum, if scientists manipulate genes within the embryo then that becomes something totally different.

I found a really good YouTube video that explains epigenetics, and it’s called Epigenetics and the Bible here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dygiebQ-cuo&t=2602s

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In the Ask series AJ Robert was ask some similar questions about genetic modification using the CRISPR technology. Thought that it would help you to process your thoughts. It also has some great links.

I think the really big question is can you trust man not to step over the line?

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Hey @Jimmy_Sellers,

Thank you so much for responding and giving me the reference to the other thread. I should have put this question under that particular thread, but when I did my search on RZIM Connect, I only used the words genes and epigenetics. The article referenced in the thread you gave me called: “Needed: Good Stewards of Genome Editing” talks about stewardship on the Genome Editing side. (Stewardship on the creation side is more along what I was asking about in my question pertaining to epigenetics.)

Genome Editing does pose a lot of debate. I hadn’t looked at gene modification from within, but I can see how someone could relate that to the parable of the Master who entrusted his wealth to his servants in Matthew 25:14-30. We are given so much knowledge, and when research leads to prevention of disease and famine aren’t we expected to make the world better?

I agree with your question Jimmy

My husband is a programmer, so I posed a question to him for his perspective. I asked him, “If you had written a program would you want someone to change your code?” He explained that the company he works for buys code or software from Microsoft and other companies and modifies their code to customize for their use which is known as “in-house programming”. Anyway I was very happy to pull my husband into the conversation, and we ultimately agreed that if he wrote code that was so very important he wouldn’t entrust that code to just anyone and would definitely expect permission to be granted before someone made any changes. My husband also said that a good programmer writes code that is adaptable.

I think (and I get into trouble for thinking, lol) that God programmed our DNA to be adaptable, therefore Epigenetics is a much more ethical way to modify our genes rather than changing the source code which is what you try to avoid says my husband.

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I looked back in notes and found this reply to one of my classmates in the RZIM Science module, thought you might like it. Keep in mind this is a reply to someone else.

I will assume that you are referring to the field of epigenetics which I know zero about but If I understand the definition correctly genes aren’t digital they are analog. In the control world where I am a bit more comfortable, digital control is 0 (full off) and 1 (full on). So, it I compare that to the gene that makes me addicted (if it exists) it would be like a switch that was turned on by something in my life that I would do or that I would be exposed to either by choice or circumstance. The analog of this would only differ in the ramp up time that it took to achieve a full-on addiction or disease.
So, if this science is sound and the conclusions are true do we need to concern ourselves with gene therapy at all why not just do a genetic test on all new born infants and give the parents or the State a road map for the child. If you will a personalized list of 10 commands ( do this, don’t do that) for his life?

Again I am sticking my neck out but I think I am safe in saying that we all have genes that would predispose us to real disease or excess or addiction the one that sticks out most in my mine is type 2 diabetes and from what I understand about it, it certainly fits that analog controlled gene. A persons life choices will gradually over time ramp up the gene from full off (no visible effect) to full on (a need for medical intervention).

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@Jimmy_Sellers, I’m not sure it’s safe to say that we all have genes that would predispose us to disease or addiction because from all that I have read if one of our parents had a mutated gene, that would not necessarily mean that gene would get passed down to us. In fact, from what I have read, there are endless combinations of influences that can effect expression of genes. For instance from what I’ve read about Randy L. Jirtle (a biologist and researcher in the field of epigenetics), his research even shows how the behavior of both parents can alter their child’s gene expression.
I assume that would be an internal influence, and there are lots of external influences. For instance, in the book “The China Study”, Dr. Campbell writes:

“As we have seen with other diseases of affluence, when people migrate from areas of the world where disease incidence is low to areas of the world where disease incidence is high, they quickly adopt the high incidence rates as they change their diet and lifestyle. This shows that even though individuals may have the necessary gene(s), the disease will occur only in response to certain dietary and/or environmental circumstances.”

I would also like to add that since I have been reading a lot about autoimmunity and it’s link to other illnesses and diseases, I am even more convinced that the more science uncovers only reveals just how little we know. For instance, in the book called: “The Autoimmune Epidemic” by Donna Jackson Nakazawa she writes:

“One of the more interesting diseases that is not yet officially under the autoimmune umbrella lies in the field of the cardiology, where researchers have recently shown that the autoimmune process is deeply implicated in atherosclerosis–the narrowing and hardening of the arteries from the slow buildup of plaque–which is implicated in 1.2 million heart attacks a year. In 2005, Mayo Clinic researchers reported that rheumatoid arthritis patients carry twice the risk of heart failure as other patients. Other studies show similar elevated risk of heart disease among patients with lupus, diabetes, and MS. Researchers believe that some of the genetic variants that predispose a patient to autoimmune disease are the same genetic variants that predispose a patient to heart disease.”

The one truth I know is that Jesus is the true vine, God is the gardener and we are the branches. (paraphrased from John 15:1). I believe that we are to work in unity and love, and in service to Jesus. We are blessed to know certain things about our health and how to be good stewards of our bodies. Although I am able to make better choices concerning my health, I do know that my health is ultimately in the hands of God. I want to always glorify God in all that I do and that includes using the knowledge he is giving me to live a more productive life for him.

Jimmy if you have type 2 diabetes, I would encourage you to read “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell and there are some excellent videos online about nutrition and diabetes. For me, I have had issues with narrowing of the arteries and inflammation of the joints. I can honestly say that I have been helped with much of the information I have learned and if I love people enough to share Jesus, then why not share about ways to alleviate some pain and discomfort.

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In my humble opinion, Gene manipulation is a tool, neither good or evil.

To have knowledge is always good, how one uses that knowledge is what’s good or evil.

All things were created for Man. “Let us give Man dominion over all things”. No thing, in and of itself, us good or evil, it’s the use that it is put to that is good or evil.

The best and strongest example in the Bible is money. When the Bible says " . . .the live of money is the root of all evil", it is not saying money is evil, it is not even saying possessing money is evil. What it is saying us that ‘loving’ money is evil. The desire for money above all else is evil.

Read “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. Yes, it is a fictional book, but the societal attitudes in the book, in my opinion, reflect the world’s attitudes very well.

Now, to apply this to epigenetics, really the only way to afford the research and development necessary would be to put it in the hands of the government and/or the insurance companies.

Already, insurance companies, not Dr.s decide what treatments, or medications a patient can receive. If we get ‘free healthcare for all’, of course, that will be under governmental auspices. Then, if we go to a one world government, how long before that morphs into government and insurance dictating ‘required’ prevention, developmental, Gene therapy to give them control over the populace.

We are all familiar with the phrase, “Give them an inch and they will take a mile.” This is exponentially true of governments. This is why God had Samuel tell the people they really did not want a King, but they ignored that advice and insisted on a King. Read about all the evil things that befell Israel because they had Kings.

The question is, “Is Epigenetics Basically Good?”

Epigenetics, in and of itself, is neither good nor evil, it is neutral. It is the USE it’s put to that can be good or evil. And with the track record of governments in general over the centuries, how do you think this would come out.

If you use Epigenetics in your own personal life, it can be good, once you try to make it a general, public policy, you are on dangerous ground. In my opinion, of course.