Rethinking DNA testing

Published 8:00 pm Monday, April 29, 2019

A couple of years ago, I spit into a tube (actually I swabbed the inside of my right cheek) and mailed it to 

Now, I’m having second thoughts. But don’t get me wrong, every couple of days I get an email telling me about a newly discovered relative and my family tree is growing as more and more people “spit” in the tube. It’s been both surprising and fascinating to take part in this giant genealogical experiment.

My second thoughts come from an article in the January issue of Discover magazine about Joseph James DeAngelo. In the 70s and 80s, he murdered 12 people and raped 50 women. The case went unsolved for years until police joined a public genealogy site and submitted DNA from those old crimes. 

Slowly but surely they created a family tree, and it led them to DeAngelo last April, but along the way they included lots of his relatives who had nothing to do with the crime. And now genetic ethicists are asking if they went too far.

On the other hand, computational biologists in the March issue of Science reported their creation of the largest family tree in history including 13 million people going back 500 years. 

Their first discovery was that ancestry or genetics has less to do with longevity than we’ve previously thought. 

I’m fond of saying, “The best thing you can do for your health is to choose better parents.” Now those computational biologists are adding genetic and health information hoping to discover the causes of certain diseases, and the possibilities are endless.

We’ve been talking about the “Absolute Basics of the Christian Faith,” and our final question was, “What is our future?” 

The answer is, “Like Jesus, we will be raised from the dead, either to worship God forever or to be forever separated from him.” 

That answer comes from an ongoing story beginning with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, when God created the universe” and ending with Revelation 22:21, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with everyone.”

The story begins with a God who created the world, and its surrounding universe and filled them both with mysteries to be uncovered and puzzles to be solved. 

Just think how the world has changed in our lifetimes, and I was blessed to play a small part by creating the platelet plasmaphoresis procedure while I was at the National Naval Medical Center in Washington, D. C. and later adapting the lipoprotein electrophoresis test for use in my little special chemistry lab at the Pensacola Naval Hospital.