The Laminin Molecule and the Inadequacies of Evidentialism
This is a shameless repost of an article from back in 2008. I had a friend send me an email over the weekend regarding Louie Giglio and his laminin molecule evidence for God. Being in need of a filler post until I have a moment to write substantively, I thought I would repost it for a newer audience.
[see my semi-review of Louie Giglio's, Indescribable]
Snopes is one of the few websites I have hit regularly since I have had access to the internet beginning in the mid-90s. Their emphasis is cataloging, and in many cases, debunking, popular urban legends floating around the culture on 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 I should be watching.
One of the recent entries under the "What's New" page pertains to a sermon illustration utilized by 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 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 world view. 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 on the left) 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 these 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 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 an "L7," what happens when smug and 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 last year when he was going to do a national debate with some atheists on ABC's Nightline.
Honestly, when I see evidences like this 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.