Posted by: Mike Willoughby | December 28, 2010

Snowflakes and DNA (Part 1)

We are visiting family in Nebraska this week and as I drink a warm cup of coffee and gather my thoughts for this week’s article, I am watching coverage on TV of the great East Coast blizzard of 2010 that dumped almost two feet of snow on Manhattan.  I am grateful that my 2010 travels to New York ended two weeks ago and I am safely tucked away in the Midwest far from the winter action (this time). 

As I witnessed the mountains of snow piling up on the bustling East Coast cities forcing the endless activity to grind to a halt, I thought of the saying I’ve always heard that no two snowflakes are alike.  I suppose it is true that even in the millions of tons of snow that have fallen from the sky over the past few days of this blizzard, every individual snowflake is special and unique.  My geeky friends would probably take the opportunity to run off down a rabbit trail of fractal development in support of the unique snowflake idea.  For me (since I’m clearly not a geek), it is just another reminder of the amazing creativity of my God Who has designed such wonders into this universe in order to remind me of His power and His gift of creation.  I stand reminded and in awe!

I also thought of a couple of ways that we are like snowflakes in God’s creation.  First just like snowflakes, we are all special and unique.  Across the whole of human history, there has never been a human being just like you and there never will be another just like you.  Not only is your biology unique with your specific DNA programming (unless you have an identical twin sibling), you have combined your biology with a set of experiences and accumulated knowledge that ensures that you are a very special and unique individual (even if you have an identical twin sibling).  Once again, my geeky friends would probably take the opportunity to run off down a rabbit trail of microbiology in order to demonstrate just how amazing and wonderful the design and execution of our biological program really is.  For me (since I’m clearly not a geek), it is just another reminder of the amazing creativity of my God Who has designed our bodies with such wonderful features and functionality in order to remind me of His power and His gift of creation.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that God has created us to be unique individuals especially when walking around a place such as Manhattan or Shanghai surrounded by millions of other human beings.  From a distant perspective, these human masses appear homogenous and generic just like that blanket of white snow covering New York.  It is only when you get a more intimate perspective of the snow through a microscope that you can appreciate the special beauty of the individual snowflake.  Similarly, we have to get a more intimate perspective of each other in order to appreciate the unique beauty of the individual human.  From that perspective, everyone I’ve ever met is a special person.  If it were possible for me to meet every one of the more than five billion humans living on this planet, each meeting would reflect the absolutely unique combination of two individuals coming together for a shared experience. 

Of course, it is not possible for me to meet everyone living on the planet which tempts me to dismiss the reality of human individuality and think of the masses of humanity generically just like that blanket of snow covering all those folks up north.  This temptation to think of the individuals I know differently than the folks I don’t know can lead to some destructive human sins including prejudice and hate.  I need to remember that God does not suffer from my limited perspective or my inability to have a relationship with every individual alive.  Consider Psalm 139 and meditate on your individuality and God’s desire to have a relationship with you!

You have searched me, LORD,
   and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
   you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
   you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
   you, LORD, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
   and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
   too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
   and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
   the night will shine like the day,
   for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
   How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
   they would outnumber the grains of sand—
   when I awake, I am still with you.

As a Christian seeking to have the same attitude as Christ, knowing how God feels about each individual person He created should change my perspective and affect how I treat my fellow man.  I’ll save that message for next week.  This week, please join me in taking every opportunity to appreciate the miracle of God’s creation including the pinnacle of His work – each individual amazing human being!     

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

Previous Intersections Articles

Safe and Secure Impressive Stonework Thinking of legacy…


  1. It’s amazing to me how God provides us with His word when we need it. This scripture was brought to my attention at worship on Sunday. It’s a beautiful prayer to remember as we exit 2010 and enter into 2011. God bless. Safe travels.

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