An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of June 5, 2005
issued from the Sierra Nevada Foothills
east of Sacramento, California, USA

    99.97% AND A QUESTION

The other day a scientist being interviewed on National Public Radio made the point that all humans on Earth share with one another about 99.97% of their genetic makeup. Even some 98% of human genes are the same as those found in chimpanzees.

These numbers are profoundly important, and I think every schoolchild should be encouraged to think about their implications.

Technically, the concept is pretty simple. Our genetic makeup consists of encoded information. The encoded information is a set of instructions on how to put chemicals together to keep life going.

The reason we humans share so much of our genetic code with one another and other living beings is that our different bodies use the same biochemical processes to stay alive. Both toads and humans breathe, and most of the genetic instructions for using the oxygen we inhale is the same for both toads and humans. Both humans and elm trees respire, and many of the chemical pathways accomplishing this are identical for trees and man. When this how-to information was encoded in the genes of the earliest, very simple life forms, it was passed on in the genes to subsequent generations who built upon the information as they evolved into new, more complex species.

One consequence of accepting these facts is that it's beautiful to conceive of the Creator -- like a composer creating a wonderful piece of music -- as being engaged in formulating the code of life as life evolves and becomes more sophisticated through time.

Another consequence of thinking like this is the notion that -- because the Creator has been working so hard on Earth-life's genetic heritage for at least 3.85 billion years -- the genetic code is worthy of being regarded by us humans as "sacred."

And, why shouldn't we rejoice at discovering that the Creator has placed each of us in a huge family of mutually dependent members of a rainbow of races and species, all sharing a huge percentage of the same life processes, feelings, potentials and aspirations? And why shouldn't the most holy act of all be that of loving and respecting all forms of life so intensely that you can't stand the idea of destroying them needlessly? Facebook Icon.