Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Friday, June 01, 2012

The Laminin Molecule and the Inadequacies of Evidentialism

This is my most read post of all my years blogging. Over 11,000 hits to date. I think it is primarily from individuals who have attended Giglio's youth lectures. My main focus with this post was to argue that evidence by itself does not "prove" the existence of God. Especially so-called bogus evidence made-up purely in order to exploit the manipulative emotions of evangelical youth.

[see my semi-review of Louie Giglio's, Indescribable]

Snopes is one of the few websites I hit regularly since I have had access to the internet beginning in the mid-90s.

They catalog, and in many cases, debunk, popular urban legends floating around the culture, especially the internet. Snopes has been helpful for putting in perspective those impassioned email chain letters pleading with me to sign a petition to defend our free speech against atheist activists or outlawing Democrats. At least twice a week or so I check their "What's New" page for any new legends that may come on my radar.

One of the recent entries under the "What's New" page pertains to a sermon illustration utilized by pastor-evangelist Louie Giglio. It has to do with the cross shape of the laminin molecule, one of the basic biological building blocks in the cell.

Giglio, in his talk (which is available in a clip located at the link), references Colossians 1:15-17 where Paul speaks of how Christ is the creator of all things and in Him and through Him all things consist. He then illustrates this passage by pointing out how the shape of the laminin molecule resembles a cross and then draws the conclusion that in the basic building blocks that holds all life together - the laminin molecule - God has revealed His hand of design by making the molecule appear in the form of a cross.

The husband and wife team who maintain the "watchdog" site (they're atheists, btw) are obviously dubious of the illustration and offer their response to Giglio's use of the laminin molecule as evidence for God's work in our lives.

For instance, they chide the idea of purposeful design by saying the molecule antedates Christ's dying on the cross by thousands of years, implying Giglio is reading his beliefs into nature. That very well could be true, but their response just reveals their ignorance of Christian theology and its teaching about God's predetermined purpose of redemption in the cross work of Christ before He even created.

Nonetheless, coming from the position of unbelief, I thought the article had some important apologetic insight when appealing to such illustrations as "proof" for God. particularly, the fact that any evidence offered for proof of anything must be interpreted, and a person will interpret such evidence according to a particular worldview. A couple of other examples cited in the entry would be how a person may see in the molecule the shape of a sword or a caduceus, the symbol for medicine with the two snakes intertwined around a staff.

However, more relevant to the issue of Christian evidence and their use in apologetics is how the entry points out the fact that the actual molecule doesn't always look like a cross.

The diagram (pictured above) is a man-made diagram meant to convey the basic components of the molecule, not necessarily represent its physical appearance. Even in the picture above, the two real molecules on the right don't exactly look like a cross. It is these sorts of sniggling little details that causes me to cringe when eager Christians thoughtlessly employ those kinds of "proofs" for God's existence, when in reality they may undermine the very thing they wish to prove.

I am utterly unaware of who Louie Giglio is or what his ministry is all about. From the brief biographical information I saw on one of his websites, he is a typical, mega-church Southern Baptist who is a popular youth conference speaker. And though I would imagine his ministry has been a blessing to many folks over the years, he is one of those type of speakers who will tend to sensationalize Christian "evidences," like the laminin molecule, in order to make God appear to be really cool and neat-o.

But this misappropriation of Christian evidence has some hidden dangers that will undo your credibility as a messenger for God.

First, it capitulates to the culture, particularly the teen culture who already think being a Christian is "squaresville." Though there is good intentions with the attempt to show that believing in Jesus doesn't make a person a "L7," what happens when surly Devon goes home after one of these Giglio conferences where he opines on the shape of the laminin molecule, does an internet search only to discover that Giglio exaggerated his proof? All that shows is Christians can lie.

Secondly, the illustration merely trivializes the Gospel. Honestly, does the laminin molecule have to look like a cross in order for God to be a perfect creator? How does a cross shaped molecule help God out exactly? How does it make God more real? Isn't the fact that there is a complex, self-replicating molecule to begin with proof enough for God's hand in all of life? This illustration runs along the same lines as Ray Comfort's banana evidence for the existence of God that I wrote about when he was going to do a national debate with some atheists on ABC's Nightline.

Honestly, when I see evidences like this being put forward as "proof" for the Christian faith, I see someone ashamed of the power of the Gospel and lacking trust in the sufficiency of God's written Word.

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Blogger Joe Blackmon said...

"Honestly, when I see evidences like this being put forward as "proof" for the Christian faith, I see someone ashamed of the power of the Gospel and lacking trust in the sufficiency of God's written Word."

As the cowardly lion said----Ain't it the truth, ain't it the truth.

10:04 AM, May 22, 2008  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Did he say that before or after the wizard was exposed?

5:42 PM, May 22, 2008  
Blogger lee n. field said...

We watched this video in Sunday school 2 or 3 weeks ago. Slow week, I guess. The first 2/3 was a presentation of successively bigger astronomical objects. Then the lamenin thing. I was not impressed. Is this typical youth fare?

7:45 PM, May 22, 2008  
Blogger Even So... said...

Well said...

8:17 PM, May 22, 2008  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Is this typical youth fare?

From what I have encountered over the years, it is sad to say, but yes it is.

5:33 AM, May 23, 2008  
Blogger Witch71 said...

First, you speak about interpretation. You said a person will interpret something according to a world view. That view should by supported with scripture not a worldly view. Colossians 1:17 says, He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. A sword is a tool used to cut or stab something. A caduceus is a symbol. This protein molecule is used to hold or bind. The comparison to the protein molecule is supported by scripture, the others are not.

Second, you spoke about how the laminin molecule doesn’t always resemble the shape of a cross. The laminin molecule itself is not made out of wood and nails. It is a protein strand found in the human body surrounded by fluid and liquid. A piece of seaweed is a straight line, correct? When floating in the ocean doesn’t the piece of seaweed have the tendency to form the shape of an L or a U or an S depending on how is follows the flow of the water? So, this argument is not very strong. The first real image of the molecule clearly shows that one “arm” of the molecule bent down and because it happens to be touching the “base” it looks as though it is of different shape. If you took it out and laid it out on a table it would be a cross just like the piece of seaweed would be a straight line.

Last, you speak of Louie’s attempt to sensationalize the evidence in attempt to make Christianity cool. His audience is usually universities and colleges. He is speaking to educated people and showing them that what they are learning is ultimately the work of God. You probably watched the 8 minute clip on YouTube and what I am sure you didn’t see or hear was how Louie took that and incorporated it into the gospel message. All instances like this are used to prove the gospel message and they do every time. And no, the molecule doesn’t have to look like a cross for God to be the perfect creator. It is simply another one of his miracles like the Fibonacci Numbers and how they are used to explain things in nature, art, geometry, architecture, and music. It makes Him more real because it is supported by scripture which is the word of God.

Honestly, when I read articles like this being put forward as an argument against the Christian faith, I see someone who feels they are self-righteous and will soon find out the power of the Gospel and the truth of God's written Word!

10:55 AM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger Fred Butler said...


Thanks for the comments. Let me respond by working backwards through your post here,

First of all, I am not arguing against the Christian faith. I am a Bible believing Christian. My post was meant as a response to a specific apologetic methodology which I believe erroneously misappropriates physical evidence as Giglio does as "proof" for God's existence.

Next, I have actually watched a couple of full DVDs put out by his ministry, with one of them dealing with the molecule. It doesn't matter the educational background of his audience. The DVDs I have watched certainly had a tone to them that exaggerated the nature of tangible evidence so that the so-called intellectual would conclude that Christianity is cool. Giglio's talk on the stars is another example. You may take that as a slight, and so be it, but there is no denying this approach in his presentation.

Next, Giglio's presentation most definitely presented the laminin molecule as always resembling a cross shape. In fact, my neighbor who loaned me his copy of this particular DVD even mentioned this part of the presentation to me and when I pointed him to those pictures where laminin doesn't always resemble a cross shape, he was discouraged and felt a bit deceived. Giglio and others who utilize this evidence in the manner he does in that presentation is doing much more harm to the faith than good. Again, it doesn't matter how sincere and how good his intentions are, such mishandling of any evidence by spinning it with manipulative speculation merely raises the problem of being a stumbling block for the gospel.

Then lastly, the main problem with Giglio's use of laminin as some extra biblical evidence for the existence of God and the truthfulness of Christianity is his misuse of Colossians. Nothing in that text suggests that Paul had in mind, or God had in mind, the laminin molecule. In fact, it is reading into the text of Colossians such a notion and thus making the Bible say what "you" want it to say, rather than letting the author tell us what he truly means. We cannot take such a subjective, relativistic approach to biblical interpretation. Louie, I am afraid does, and rather than being a positive apologetic for God, only in the end makes him look ridiculously desperate as an evangelist.


5:27 PM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger Witch71 said...


Thanks for your response. I do understand what you are saying and I apologize for thinking you were speaking against the Christian beliefs when you are a bible believing Christian yourself. I read the article and the article alone. I should have read more on your site about your views and beliefs before my final paragraph.

So Giglio goes against the teaching that the bible is the living word. He takes the passage and makes it in to one particular idea. But what if he received that information from the scientist and in preparation for his sermon he read that passage in Colossians and that's how it spoke to him. He said he had scientific interest and that entire presentation leading up to laminin was simply explaining the universe. It didn't have much scripture to re enforce with the exception of some Genesis about the creating of light and the earth. I agree that maybe he should re enforce the teaching that the bible is the living word more and not try to make the one to one correlation between the scripture and the science. Maybe I take that for granted because I understand that and your point is that a lot of others do not.

I think his scientific approach to showing how complex we are as well as the universe around us is good for explaining how awesome God is. And Louie is good at giving that praise to the Lord. I just never saw it as him trying to make Christianity cool. I definitely see your point a lot clearer now. I just always take information like that for my own benefit instead of trying to see if the speaker has an angle. Of course with obvious exceptions like the money hungry on TV every Sunday. He should, as you say, not confuse the gospel message in that manner.

Thanks Fred for your insight - It helped me see your point more clearly.

Ed Witchey

6:33 PM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger Pennsylvania Marathon Man said...

I for one watched the video with Louie Giglio. And I do agree with you that you do not know who Louie Giglio is. It is evident from the fact that you have just bashed his presentation of the cell laminin as a representation of God in our lives. All Louie did was tell how he found out about this cell, and what he saw when he went and looked at the cell when he googled it. And because he is a man of God and believes in God as our creator, it was just amazing to him to see this protien molecule which bonds our bodies together in the shape of the cross. And he related that to how Jesus dying on the cross for all of our sins is what bonds our lives together with God if we believe in him and ask forgiveness for our sins. He used this as a reference for our lives. Yes the cell does take on different shapes as I have seen in the actual photos when I googled it too. But I will gladly hold to the representation Louie Giglio gave using the photos shaped as a cross and the fact that it is a protein molecule that bonds our bodies together. His representation of Christ dying on the cross as being the only thing that can bond our lives together with God is a perfect representation and one we should all look at more closely. I read one article of a man who said alcohol molecules also take on the shape of a cross. I googled that also and found no evidence of alcohol being in the shape of a cross but rather that of a several bubbles. And in my experiences with bubbles, they pop very quickly. The cross on the other hand is something that can bond our lives together with God for eternity. D. George Pennsylvania

7:17 PM, December 16, 2008  
Blogger SamBass said...

This dosent prove the creation of God, unless you have the "insight" of the Spirit of God that reveals truth that only you might see.
1 Corinthians 2:14
Though everyone dosent see what you see dosent mean you cant get excited about what you understand.

12:28 PM, January 07, 2009  
Blogger SamBass said...

Evidentialism, what laugh.
Faith has nothing to do with "Evidence" or "Science", it has to do with "belief". How does any science of man compare with,,
"the beginning and the end",, " the I Am".. The one who spoke matter, time and space into a dimension of existance that we can "barley" grasp...
This whole blog is about an "ant" comprehending particle physics..its not going to happen..

12:42 PM, January 07, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I believe you have totally misread this blog (I am taking it you mean this particular article) if you think it is just about an ant comprehending particle physics. Have you read anything I have written on apologetics and evangelism?

12:48 PM, January 07, 2009  
Blogger donneal said...

This is as good of an explanation of the things I dislike about preachers and evangelists attempts at making God look larger and more relevant by adding to Scripture total conjecture.

All of creation shouts: "God is great!" Jesus Christ bespeaks His relevance.

When we go about trying to make God bigger than anyone else's idea of God, we only wind up giving the enemies of the cross a little more ammunition that they couldn't get from the Bible or other contemporary works.

NET: God is great and very relevant by virtue of the cross of Christ.

7:09 AM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger Marcus said...

I believe that God provides His creatures sufficiently for faith.
What we do (interpret) with His provision is our choice. Not too incidentally, this holds with all science, especially that which is discovery-driven. But of this I am not writing. The Spirit is something else.

12:57 PM, March 04, 2009  
Blogger Philip said...

It is quite amusing that sometimes we tend to attribute "nature" to science as if science has nothing to do with God or as if science is contrary to religion.

Nature is God's creation and "science" is the output of our intellect, which is a gift from God so we should not be surprised if proofs of God's existence and power are readily found in nature.

To see God in everything we see and experience is one of the spiritual gifts given to us by God during baptism (and confirmation) which is called the gift of Wonder & Awe. Another name for this is the gift of Fear of the Lord. So we should not be surprised if other people see the presence or workings of God in nature.

Praise God!

8:58 AM, May 06, 2009  
Blogger Steve said...

I am amazed at the simplicity of believers. Everyday i work with the public in ministry. People come and are struggling with porn addictions, gambeling, drugs, or whatever. I apply the truth of the Gospel. Sometimes i cast out the spirit of addiction as Jesus taught, or the spirit of infirmity. Sometimes i have them forgive thier fathers or whom ever they need. God heals them, they are changed and live compationat powerful lives for God. You want proof of God... follow a drug attict to the Cross. When God delievers them, put an end to your search. Jesus the same yesterday today and forever.

In Love -

11:32 AM, October 15, 2009  
Blogger Jesse said...

Is it not unfair to identify cross with the Lord? Think, you worship the cross or the Lord?

10:58 PM, November 16, 2009  
Blogger Carla said...

Obviously your not intelligent enough to allow criticism of your comments here without feeling threatend and erased my comment without posting it. Knowledge is what we are supposed to be about. Good GOD!

9:53 AM, April 07, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Carla, whose profile is conveniently unavailable.

What comment are you talking about? I filter comments, but unless you used profanity in your comment, I would have posted it. So I think your falsely accusing me of something that never happened.

It could be you posted something and it went into Blogger purgatory never to be seen again. Try again. Just be assured I don't delete comments.

11:10 AM, April 07, 2011  
Blogger JoJo said...

God is Truth. Christos is Truth. No theory or finding can contradict the Truth. We need not worship science nor ignore it. God reveals Himself in various ways. Faith communities(church)are desirable; because, the many stories of God shared are revealing. This model collectively helps society move closer to God.

Snopes' response took a back door to "we don't know." It threw up religious rituals and symbols that pre-date Christ to be considered. Implying the cross should be discounted. This I did not like. I reviewed the proteins finding that 40 made up 5 isotrops. Only one existed in every cell, B3b. This is my layman's understanding. Is this idea meaningful to my spirituality? It's meaningful to cancer research. What a great gift it would be to eradicate the ravages of cancer.

We need not apologize for Our God's choice of revelation. God is everywhere, in the beginning, the present, the future and ever will be. The ancients perceived God as they were able to. The point is they turned to God. If we carry symbols or ideas forth, we are not pagans. As we evolve, it is acceptable to reinterpret and use those building blocks.

If we stretched it, this might be compared to a parable of sorts. The minister reveals through his story that he knows nothing of proteins. He heard from one man. For me that moment brought forth discernment. I feel that things I stumble upon, like this one, have some relevance to my story of God. This lesson is how unfathomable God is to us.

Faith is more important than man's knowledge. My God would not need to embed crosses to arrange molecules as evidence. I would accept it if it amused Him to do so. Or more seriously, if it were sign left on a path to an even more amazing discovery by piquing our interest? No man knows the Mind of God. We are mere children at play before Him. I try to play by the rules but listen to others out of love. If He changes the game, it will not alter the Truth. My faith tells me that He will let me know. Listening is part of that process.

2:32 AM, May 29, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arguments we think creationists should NOT use

Laminin is on the list.

11:14 AM, June 04, 2012  
Blogger Lexan89 said...

I understand your subjective criticism Sir (the one who made this blog)re Mr. Giglio's preaching meshed with his faith in God, the Creator of everything we logically sensationalize and recognize by our senses. However, I believe that God reveals the marks of His wondrous craftsmanship on all his creations and LAMININ is just one of God's handiwork. Shouldn't you believe in God's marks manifested in all creations, I have nothing against that. But one thing I would want to tell you is that, God withheld the meritorious retribution for OUR sins and, instead, He gave us GRACE that abounds in us (unworthy ones) for HE LOVES US SO MUCH which no human mind could ever fathom, more so, He allows manifestations of His great handiwork and arguments against it to single out those who really have genuine faith in HIM!

May you encounter God's divine conviction as you go through your life.

In Him.

8:03 PM, August 27, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I certainly believe God has revealed his wonderful craftsmanship in his creation. lamin would fit that category. But like I stated in the article, why does Giglio have to exaggerate the appearance of the molecule to make it look like a cross when it really isn't? Why isn't the amazing work of lamin by itself a wonderful mark of God's handiwork? It's a matter of how we present Christ to unbelievers in a way that honors God. That's my point.

5:14 AM, August 28, 2012  
Blogger Lexan89 said...

I certainly got your point Sir. Well, human as we are, we try to positively associate (with exaggeration)things that somehow give/show divine connection between the creation and the Creator. Needless to say, Mr. Giglio was fascinatingly disturbed about LAMININ as a crossed-shaped protein that somehow has undeniable great resemblance to the cross. Well, he missed out on giving some sort of biological and biblical boundaries of the two shapes. As a christian, I guess that's an initial insightful response and/or perceptive commentary knowing such biological facts. I understand his "exaggeration", more so, I understand your point. I believe God's word is enough to proclaim His magnificence. But, I also believe that God allows this handiwork of his to come to our knowledge for the same reason - that is to SHOW HIS MAGNIFICENCE and GREATNESS to mankind.

God bless! Nice exchange of thoughts.

8:10 PM, August 28, 2012  
Blogger mbabbitt said...

I tend to agree with your assessment that the emphasis on laminin as any kind of physical proof trivializes the Gospel and could be seen as an act of desperation, grasping at crosses so to speak. But it is interesting nonetheless. I find the DNA molecule - the biological language of information sharing to be more impressive.

5:36 AM, January 16, 2013  

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