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Grandpa Cancer

on April 2, 2011
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PhysOrg: “Could Cancer Be Our Oldest Ancestor?Cancer, perhaps like nothing else, reminds us of the brokenness, the suffering, and the mortality of creation in this present age, all traceable back to Adam’s sin. Genesis makes it clear that man, along with everything else in the original creation, was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). We can infer that cancer was not a part of that, since the Bible describes death as an “enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26). But now, evolutionists are proposing that cancer may actually be our ancestor!

Paul Davies, an Arizona State University astrobiologist who has been mentioned several times in News to Note (most recently in December), describes his team’s astonishing idea in an Arizona State news video:

These rudimentary [multicellular] colonies, I think, were like the earliest tumors. And so when people get cancer now, these tumors represent a throwback to that time about a billion years ago, that first experimentation with multicellularity.

. . . Single cells have just one imperative: replicate, replicate, replicate. But when cells began to get together to form colonies and cooperative arrangements, they had to relinquish some of their rights, and one of these rights is the right to replicate when you want to. And so now in our bodies, all of this is very tightly controlled. If there’s a skin cell, for example, it can’t just decide to replicate; it has to wait for a signal, a message to tell it to do so. . . . If that cooperative arrangement breaks down, cancer results. And what we’re saying is not just that this is cells gone wrong; this is cells reverting to the way they used to be a billion years ago. . . . [T]here’s a . . . [toolkit] of genes, very ancient genes, that know how to build these rudimentary, cancerous colonies, and . . . these genes are overlaid by more sophisticated ones that represent life as we now see it. . . . And that when something goes wrong, out springs this ancient toolkit of genes, and out comes that earlier way of doing things.

Bordering on the ridiculous, Davies tries to defend astrobiology, saying it “can inform cancer biology,” despite the fact that astrobiologists have found no life beyond earth and the field is little more than evolutionary speculation about the origin of life!

Especially blunt is Davies’ claim that cancer “doesn’t seem like something just going wrong; it seems like something going right,” since he sees cancer as “pre-programmed” in the human body. He likens it to humans being “born with tails”—which is a common evolutionary misinterpretation of an occasional birth defect, and in our opinion Davies should know better. And bordering on the ridiculous, Davies tries to defend astrobiology, saying it “can inform cancer biology,” despite the fact that astrobiologists have found no life beyond earth and the field is little more than evolutionary speculation about the origin of life!

Whether Davies’ idea takes hold among evolutionists is yet to be seen. Our question is how Christian evolutionists—who generally accept mainstream evolution lock, stock, and barrel but throw God in as the initiator and interested observer of the process—will respond to this idea. Creationists make the point that theistic evolution makes God the architect of death, and it seems to us that evolutionists calling cancer our “ancestor” makes this point all the more clear. After all, the strange implication of their view is that what the Bible calls an “enemy,” and a primary blight we associate with the brokenness of the present creation, was actually part of what God was looking at when He called his creation “very good” (Genesis 1:31).


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