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Pastor’s viewpoint: Aug. 3, 2019

The miracle of birth! Deoxyribonucleic acid was discovered in 1869, but it was not until February 28, 1953, that Watson and Crick discovered the double-helix structure of the molecule and how it determined genetic inheritance. The double-helix molecule resembles and acts like a microscopic zipper in the parent’s reproductive cells which unzips so the baby gets half the molecule from the mother and half from the father. Those two halves zip themselves together in the baby to determine our physical characteristics.

Later, in 1973, while I was working as a special chemist in the Pensacola Naval Hospital, I began doing very basic genetic maps. But the science has grown exponentially since that time and now you can send a mouth swab to a lab and get back a list of relatives who’ve done the same thing.

So, a few years ago, I sent my DNA to Ancestry.com and now I have my own AncestryDNA app and my own DNA map. Every once in a while, I check in and find new “relatives” marked on my map both here in the Southeastern United States and in the British Isles. I’ve learned that 75 percent of my relatives are from England (there is a Whatley castle southwest of London!), Wales, and Northwestern Europe; 18 percent are from Ireland and Scotland; 6 percent are from Norway; and 1 percent are from Benin/Togo. And at some point, they migrated to the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama. We went to the Whatley reunion one summer in Auburn, Ala.

Right now, according to my DNA map, I have 1,000+ relatives and one, a second cousin, has 2,452 people in his family tree. As more and more people submit their DNA and the database grows larger and larger, my results will grow in both accuracy and size. The miracle of birth gives rise to the miracle of family!

“[2] The LORD says, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are one of the smallest towns in Judah, but out of you I will bring a ruler for Israel, whose family line goes back to ancient times.” [3] So the LORD will abandon his people to their enemies until the woman who is to give birth has her son. Then those Israelites who are in exile will be reunited with their own people.” (Micah 5)

Right now, according to my DNA map, I have 1,000+ relatives and one, a second cousin, has 2,452 people in his family tree. As more and more people submit their DNA and the database grows larger and larger, my results will grow in both accuracy and size. The miracle of birth gives rise to the miracle of family!

 

Charles “Buddy” Whatley, a retired United Methodist pastor and, with Mary Ella, are  missionaries to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.

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