"Dolly The Sheep - Genetic Engineering, What Next?"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2000 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Now if you have a copy of the word of God with you, our reading is taken from Matthew chapter 24 - and we're only reading one verse to start off with this evening, but there'll be some other verses that I want you to turn to. If you don't have a Bible, don't worry about it, just listen to the word of God as we read it together.
Matthew chapter 24 and verse 37, and to understand the context of where we're reading from: this chapter of Matthew's gospel is the Lord Jesus Christ speaking and narrating about His return to the earth. One of the things He says within this is verse 37 - it's quite hard to understand if you don't have a full knowledge of the rest of the Bible.
Verse 37: "But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be". As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the coming of the Son of man. The title 'Son of man' is a title that the Lord Jesus Christ used of Himself - and all it simply means is this: it was a prophetic title, it spoke of the one who would come one day to the earth to deliver His own people, Israel, to be the Messiah of His people and to be the Deliverer and the Saviour of the whole world.
So, if we read that verse again we see that it says this: 'As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the coming of the Son of man'. Of course it was the Lord Jesus speaking these words while He was already upon the earth, so He could not have been talking about His coming there and then - He was talking about a day that would come when He would come again. So the environment, and the context, and the worldwide scene for the Lord's return, His second advent, when He comes again from heaven to earth - something about it will be like what it was like in the days of Noah.
I want to speak to you this evening on three days. We want to try and deal with the subject: 'Dolly the Sheep', or the broader subject: genetic engineering. What is going on in our world? What is going on in the realm and the world of science? What is happening to technology today? Can we know from the word of God that there is anything certain, that God has anything to say, that God has any direction to His people and to the world at large about what is going on? What is happening?
There are three days that I want to speak you about. First of all: today. What is going on today in our world? Then, secondly, I want to speak to you for a few moments on the days of Noah - the days that we were reading about in that verse. And then, thirdly and finally, I want to deal with the last days - the last days were the days that the Lord spoke of - just before the end of the world, if you like, after He comes again, and the things that will happen upon the earth to usher in the end of the age.
Let's talk, first of all, about today. What are scientists doing? What is the purpose of genetic engineering? Fiddling about with nature, the building blocks of life, science, and life as we know it - why are they tampering? Why are they becoming mechanics of nature and life itself? I believe that it can all be summed up in one word: immortality. Immortality! There are in our world today a handful scientists that believe that it is now possible that the whole ageing process of our lives and of the whole world can be reversed! Effectively they believe that we can be gods.
Professor Lee Silver (sp?), who's the Professor of Genetics in Princeton University in the United States, said this - and I quote him: 'I believe it is theoretically possible to achieve immortality'. That's a top geneticist in our world: 'I believe that it is theoretically possible to achieve immortality'. What these scientists are trying to achieve is seeking ways to stop cells in our body from ageing, to make our bodies live on - and if part of our body fails or dies, to make them re-grow, or to replace the organs and the tissues that have worn out - to give us what they call 'perpetual youth', that we will never ever die. But to do it they must defy the laws of nature - why? Because we all know - we don't need to be a scientist to know - that our bodies are pre-programmed to die. We go through youth, we go through the natural ageing process - ageing and death are programmed, but what they want to do is come into nature and to re-programme us, like computers, so that we will never ever die.
Now this is a new thing, and until recently scientists believed that the ageing process was inalterable. But one day some scientists were experimenting in a scientific lab with a fruit fly and this, it could be said, was the beginning of their discoveries - for they created within the laboratory a 'super fly'. A little fruit fly, seemingly insignificant, but this fruit fly doubled its lifespan. What happened was, that the fruit flies mated together, and then the female laid its eggs - but only the oldest female was allowed to live on. They took the longest living female, and then they began to breed it again and again and again, and of the new stock of little fruit flies they then took the oldest living one of it - and gradually, bit by bit, they were creating an older fly, and they made the genes of this fly to live longer. That went on for 20 years, and at this moment of time they have doubled the lifespan of the little fruit fly.
If you were to ask one of those scientists what it does for the fruit fly, he would answer: 'It makes it far more athletic, it's able to fly longer and walk longer. It's more robust', and he might even say that this little fly is the proof - the first evidence - that one day we will discover eternal youth. If they were to do this in human beings, they would have to tamper with human biology. Did you know that scientists have developed mice that regenerate? Mice that can grow back parts that they have lost today, tomorrow! Scientists in a lab have punched the ear of mice to be able to identify them with a little hole, so that the mouse's ear has a little hole in it - and after going back, after some time, to look out these mice that they have marked, they have found that the hole has grown over and there has been no scar tissue, nothing at all to say that there has been a hole made! What has happened is that the mouse has grown a new ear!
Now that, before, was theoretically impossible for mammals. Mammals do not grow back limbs - if you lose your arm or your leg, you know that you cannot grow it back again - but they have developed a mammal that can. But more than that: they have taken the cells of a 70 year-old man, his skin cells - and some of you know what the skin cells of a 70 year-old man look like, every morning when you're shaving in mirror! Wrinkled, old, it has gone through the ageing process where the cells have begun to die within your body. They have taken those cells and under the microscope they have brought, by cloning, those cells back to when he was born - the skin of a little baby. That's what they're able to do today.
How they do it is complicated, but simply putting it like this: they take your DNA - and DNA is simply the building blocks of your life, who you are in a physical and scientific sense - and they take your make up, and they insert into it another cell to make you something else than what you are. Some scientists believe that 50 years from now they will be able to have banks of cells, cells for ears and eyes, and limbs, and kidneys, and hearts, and all sorts of parts of the body, that are re-programmed to live over, again and again, and will never die. When someone needs a kidney transplant, or someone loses an ear or something like that, they're able to go into this 'cell bank' and take those cells of the parts of your body, and they're able to graft them into your being - theoretically speaking - and you are able to grow back these things. They can do this now, but they're not allowed.
Dr Heseltine, William Heseltine (sp?), of the Human Genome Scientist Lab, says this - and I quote him: 'We may be able to see the first immortal human somewhere in the late part of this century, between 2075 and 2100'. Do you know what they want to do? They want to trigger within human beings a regenerating process in old age, so that rather than becoming older and older and older, there will be a renewing process - the whole ageing scheme is reversed, so that you become newer and newer, and younger and younger. You will reverse the whole process and be renewed from the inside out, constantly!
They talk today about the genetic engineering of children - so that, when a child is born, the whole ageing process is switched from the beginning. They are pre-programmed - it's not them coming into you at 60 years of age and turning the clock back for you, but right from the beginning as a child is born they will do this - and the tragedy of it, my friend, is that there is no going back! For once this is done to a human being their children, and their grandchildren, and their great grandchildren, will inherit the same genes and the process will be irreversible.
Professor Lee Silver, that I've quoted already, from Princeton says this: 'This will be', will be, 'the most significant medical discovery ever'. Immortality! Is that not what men want? To live forever! There are Texan oil barons who will pay billions to know - and they're 85 years of age - that one day they will have immortality. I heard one talking about how he would go down to the chemist, get a bottle of pills, and it would give him 50, 100 or more years life!
Today the programmes on the television, and our newspaper periodicals and articles, talk about 'designer babies'. Have you heard about this? Designer babies! Now, you might laugh at this - but my grandmother, perhaps more than 20 years ago (and I'm not going to tell you that I'm a designer baby!), but more than 20 years ago she sat in Castlereagh Baptist Church and Pastor William Mullan preached from the word of God, and he said this: that there would come a day when mothers would be able to go into chemist's shops and look at bottles, and be able to choose the eye-colour of their children. They all laughed at him - but they're not laughing now, my friend, because it is possible. Twenty-first century genetics will, and is, dominating our health. It dominates our food, our environment, even the very cereal that we eat has been genetically modified - and now scientists are beginning to talk about the final taboo: about hand-picking the genes of your child!
This is more horrible than Huxley's Brave New World. Because what it does, philosophically, is it increases the gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots' - we'll go into that a little bit later, but think of what that would be like: to have a perfect baby, physically speaking. A genetically created human, superhuman, in your arms! Men in white coats able to improve upon nature, a race apart from ordinary human beings - 'Impossible!', you say. No! The first steps have already been taken. You can go to a fertility clinic in the USA, right now today, and you will find the first babies created with design in mind. For $2,500 they can choose the sex of your child - boy or girl, what do you want? They can give you, over-the-counter, the sex of your child! My question tonight is: will it, can it, when will it go beyond sex alone?
In theory this new technology can offer control not just of health, but of beauty and of brains! The question is: how and when? Well, they're manipulating DNA of human beings today at will all over the world. Already they have mixed the genes of animals together - you can go today into a laboratory, and you can find there a jellyfish that glows in the dark, it's natural, it happens in the water that it glows in the dark to be seen. You can go and find an ordinary mouse, and they have taken a cell of the mouse, and they have taken the genes out of that jellyfish that make it glow and they have impregnated it into the cell of the little mouse - so that you have glowing mice!
What would it be like, one day, for parents to have a choice of choosing the mood, the intelligence, the intellect, the size, the height, the eye-colour, the colour of their child? The height and the looks, and the longevity - how long that child lives, the ripe old age that it lives to? You might say: 'Well, in Britain they're not allowed to do this now' - that's true, there are rules to stop it happening. But in the USA, do you know what the rules are? It is left to the discretion of the ethics of the doctor concerned!
Now, don't get me wrong: there are some positive results of genetic engineering, because there are some awful diseases that can come into this world and these people can cure them. It's helpful in the law courts, where paternity rights are fought for a child and they are able to decipher through the DNA whose the child really is. So many abnormalities that they can form and they can help with, positively. But, my friend, think of the negative things: the ability in the hands of scientists, fallible men, to change humans so that they can be tailored to perform certain functions!
Some of you can remember Adolf Hitler - that's what he did, at least that's what he tried to do: create an Aryan race that would resemble human breeding programmes, instituted by him in World War II - it was called eugenics. Certain people, namely the Jews, were sterilised - they weren't allowed to produce, they weren't good enough because Adolf Hitler wanted a blond, blue-eyed, strong, intelligent race, and they didn't fit into his ideal. So he made sure they were sterilised, that they couldn't produce children, and then he exterminated the rest of them!
Can you imagine what it would be like, after Adolf Hitler is deceased, for some world leader to realise this power of having the ability to create superhumans in his grasp? The awful irony, my friend, is this: that the expense to do this, what would have to come out of your pocket to have one of these super human beings, or super babies, only the rich could afford. Class difference would become genetic. Some scientists see the human race splitting into two different races. Listen to what Professor Lee Silver, again of Princeton, says - listen: 'In a society based on market principles', that means buying and selling, putting the price up, demand and supply, a society that sells everything that they make and find out, 'I don't think there is anything to stop the use of this technology by those who have money'. That's all is needed, friend, in a few more years all the principles, all the ideals of ethics, will be gone - for society will change, and society is what determines the ethics around it. Society is what determines the laws today, what is acceptable in society at large - and there is a day coming, it's almost here, when it will be acceptable for men to do such a thing.
A breakthrough was needed if this was to be done in human beings, and that breakthrough came in February 1997. The Rosslyn Institute in Scotland cloned an animal, Dolly the sheep. They now have developed Polly the sheep - it's a designer sheep. Dolly was just a clone, but Polly had different genes put into her to make her an almost perfect, designer sheep. She has three identical sisters. You may have heard in the last fortnight about the little pigs that have been born with the view - listen to this - of growing, manufacturing organs, donor organs for human beings. All over the world scientists are now practising cloning - but the problem is this: the vastness of the technology produces the possibility of the vastness of its mistakes, and there are many of them - but you and I don't hear about them.
That is the first day, today - and let me say this: not one piece of the information that I have given to you this evening has been taken from the word of God. You cannot argue with anything I have said. Now we turn to the word of God: the days of Noah. There is one problem for the scientists, and it is this: they are fascinated by twins. Perhaps there is a twin here, and you know what it's like, an identical twin - that some of them, even to look at, you can't tell any difference. Identical in every physical way, sometimes even psychologically and mentally they can think in the same way - but this is their problem: they have distinct personalities. Fifty per cent of them are made up of genes, but there's a problem for the scientists: because they could produce a million David Legges, but not two of them with the same personality! Do you know why that is? Because you, whether a scientist will admit it or not my friend, you have a soul.
The soul is who you really are, not your body! Your body will change, your body one day will be in the dust - but the soul is who you are, the seat of your affections, your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions, everything spiritually that you are inwardly - your soul, my friend! Jesus Christ asked the question: 'What shall a man or a woman gave in exchange for their soul?'. Men, scientists and oil barons, are running about looking to give something in exchange of their body, they will give all the millions that they have to get a new body, to get a new length of life. 'I'll give anything in exchange of my body, for a new body' - but, my friend, that's not what counts. What counts is what the world is ignoring, what the world denies: 'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world?' - you could change it - 'What does it profit a man if he gain eternal life, physically speaking, yet his soul is still dead, yet he has lost his soul?'.
My friend, that's why the Lord Jesus says: 'As it was in the days of Noah', our text, 'so shall it be in the coming of the Son of man'. Turn with me to Genesis chapter 6, till we see what God is saying here. In the time that we have left we want to deal with the days of Noah and the last days. Genesis chapter 6 and verse 1: "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord".
Now what is all that talking about? Verse 2: 'the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose'. Modern Bible interpreters today would tell you that the sons of God in that passage, the good sons of God, were the sons of Seth - Adam's third son - that the evil sons of God were the bad sons of Seth. But if you go through the whole of the word of God, through the Old Testament and indeed the New Testament, you will find that this phrase 'the sons of God' does not refer to a human being, it refers to something beyond that. The correct biblical interpretation of that phrase is this: demonic beings that came from heaven when the devil rebelled against God, God cast them out of heaven for their rebellion.
You could call them 'fallen angels', and what this passage is saying is that these fallen angels, Peter says, left their first estate. What that simply means is this: they left the habitation that they should have stayed in. They were spiritual beings, and these daughters of men were physical beings - but these fallen angels that were spiritual beings left the spiritual realm and came into the physical realm, perhaps possessing the bodies of men. They slept with these daughters of men, and God says that the monster - the thing, the half-demon, half-human - that was created in the womb of those women was called a 'nephilim'. That's why it says in verse 4 that there were giants in the land in those days - super human beings! Do you see it? Half-men, half-demon, half-natural, half-spiritual - can you see the awesomeness? These creatures, these giants, roaming across the land!
That can be the only reason why God would want to wipe out the human race - and God did it. God brought a flood - He said: 'The imaginations of men's minds and hearts are only evil continually'. Like some of the scientists in our world today, they think up these things - and some of them may think it up for good, but some maniac [who has] lost his mind or perhaps is possessed with a devil will one day pick up this great thing and use it for evil.
There's an interesting verse, verse 8 and 9, it says: 'Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God'. I want you to see this, my friend: Noah lived in this awful generation, just like we are living in a similar generation today - as it was in the days of Noah, it's becoming like it today, isn't it? There is the possibility in the hands of men, mortal scientists, to create - in theory - super human beings! But there was one man, one man and his family of seven, who found grace in the eyes of God - in other words, God had sympathy upon him. Why does it say that? It says: 'because he was perfect in his generation, and he walked with God'.
Now don't you go thinking that Noah was perfect, morally speaking - that he did no wrong and he never sinned - because when he got off the Ark it says that he got drunk. He was not a sinless man, because there are no sinless men or women - and, my friend, you are not the first one! But Noah was perfect, and the word used in Hebrew is the word used for a lamb without blemish and without spot - it means physically perfect. Do you know what it means? When the rest of humanity and creation was delving into the damnable sins of these giants, and those that slept with them, and the imaginations of the heart and the mind that were awful - when all the world was going on that broad road to destruction, of sin in the eyes of God, there was one man who remained pure: Noah.
But do you know something? His physical purity couldn't save him, because God told him: 'Go and build an Ark, Noah'. They all rolled around the floor laughing at him: 'Look at Noah! Look what he's doing! He says there's rain coming, there's floods coming - sure we've hardly seen rain in years, and he says there's going to be a flood! He says he's building this boat, and all his family are going to get into it, and if we don't get into it too we'll all be lost!'. But Noah believed God, and Noah got into the boat, into the Ark, and the rains came down - and the word of God says that God shut the door on the Ark! Can you see all the people? They see the rain clouds, they hear the thunder and see the lightning - and they realise that God was right, Noah was right - and they run to the Ark, and they scratch on the doors, they beat on the doors: 'Let us in Noah, we were wrong!', but it was too late!
Just as it was in the days of Noah, sinfully speaking, so it will be in the coming of the Son of man, my friend, if you're not saved and you come too late. Do you know what the Ark speaks of? The cross, the cross of Jesus Christ, where He hung, where He died, where He bled - do you know what He was doing there? Oh yes, the Jews were crucifying Him. Oh yes, the Romans had made a legal decree - even illegally - they had put Him on the cross as a criminal, even though no-one could throw an accusation against the Lord Jesus Christ. But why He was there is primarily this: that He was dying for your sin, for your wrong, for your shortcoming - He was dying, and He tells you through His word, and He's not a liar: 'I loved you, and I gave Myself for you My child. Don't argue with Me! It's a fact! I've done it! I shed My blood for you'.
Do you know how that cross is like an Ark? Unless you've entered in at the cross, my friend, you cannot be saved. When all these things will break upon the earth, and when one day you stand before the judgement, and you stand before that Great White Throne of the Lord Jesus Christ and He opens up all your sins, all the secrets of men's hearts, and He brings them before you and He plays them before you like a film, and you relive them - and you're cast into the lake of fire, and there's eternal torments - my friend, it will be too late them. If you're in the cross, in the ark of the cross, sheltered there - those storms, those waves, those billows of judgement and the wrath of God can never harm you, do you know why? Because they harmed Jesus Christ! He took the wrath, He took the storm, He took the tribulation and the hell and the judgement of the world's sins - and, oh, that the world would realise that they need to go in at the cross!
You need to trust the Saviour this evening. The only way to be sure about your future - you can't be sure about the future of everything that's happening around you - but all you can be sure of is this: that if you're trusting in Jesus Christ, it will be well with your soul; and if you're trusting in Jesus Christ, one day He will come to take you away from this old world! He will protect you from all these things that we have been talking about. Do you know that when Noah was told to build that Ark, do you know what God told him? 'Make an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch' - do you know what that is? Tar - he had to pitch inside it and outside it, we know why he did that: to make sure the waters wouldn't come in. My friend, do you know what that pitch speaks of? It speaks of what John spoke of in 1 John 1 verse 7: 'The blood of Jesus Christ God's Son cleanseth us from all sin'.
My friend, that's the discovery of the nations, that's the greatest discovery of all time - not immortality humanly and physically speaking, the greatest discovery is eternal life that only God can give! You see, that's what they've missed. We've talked about today, we've talked about the days of Noah, and I wanted to talk to you - but I'll mention it in one or two minutes - [about] the last days. In Revelation 13 verse 3, and Revelation 13 verse 15, it talks about a man called 'Antichrist'. 'Antichrist' does not mean 'against Christ', it means 'in place of Christ' - this man is going to portray himself as a counterfeit Christ, because of that he's going to try to mimic Christ. You know how Christ died, and was buried, and rose again - well, he's going to try and do that! Because you see the devil wants you to believe, and he wants all the scientific laboratories and institutions to believe that the devil has power over life and death.
It says that the Antichrist is going to die, he's going to get a fatal wound, and all of a sudden it's going to appear that he has come back to life! I don't know what that means, but I'll tell you this: the devil could be preparing the way he's going to do it. Down the chapter in verse 13 it says this: that after he dies, so-called, and apparently rises again - he's going to set an image of himself up in the temple of the Jews, and he's going to make everybody in the world worship that image. It says about the image that the image had been given power to live, it could talk, it could speak! I'm not saying that it's going to be a clone of the Antichrist, but do you not see, my friend, that these things are possible in the day in which we live?
The whole world wants immortality, but do you know what it needs? Spiritual immortality - eternal life, that's what they're all seeking after, but they're seeking after it in the physical, fleshly realm. But Jesus says to you today: 'I give unto My sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish'. You can't buy that, you can't work for that my friend, because Christ has finished the work at Calvary. What you must do today is take it, take it as your own and go in at the cross.
Let us pray together. Let's bow our heads, and let me invite you up the stairs for a cup of tea - just go out of the hall here and take your first left and up the stairs, and you'll get a cup of tea and something to eat. But before you do that, listen: these are eternal things my friend, and the only hope that this old world has and all the people in it, is found in Jesus Christ. If you're to have any hope in the future, you must have Jesus, you must be trusting in His cross. The way that you can do that is simply repenting of your sin. That means turning away from it, saying - and say these words, pray them now from your heart if you wish to be saved: 'Lord, I repent of my sin. I turn from it, leave it, forsake it, and turn to Thee. Lord, I trust the death of Thy Son, I trust Him to save me. Lord, I pray that You will save me, that You'll take me and make me Your own. And that when You come again, Lord Jesus, You will take me to that home prepared for me. Amen'.
If you have done that, please speak to me. We want to pray for you, we want to have joy with you over what you have done. If you want to talk to me this evening, or discuss some of these things that you have heard, if you want me to point you in the right direction about trusting the Saviour - even take some literature, or even talk to the person that you've come with - but don't leave, don't put this thing off, there's nothing more important.
Our Father, we thank Thee for this time. We pray that Thou wilt speak to souls, deal with them, and save them. Bless our time together, and we pray that You will take our thanks for those provisions that we're about to partake of. Bless those that must go home, for we ask these things in that name of that One who will come again, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly, Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape, titled "Dolly The Sheep - Genetic Engineering, What Next?" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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