I’m home! I get one day of rest before charging on another venture, but I thought I’d let you know about some Important News. It’s an old story.
A billionaire-funded Christian organization is currently working to clone Jesus Christ after obtaining DNA from the Shroud of Turin and feel confident they will have a Jesus clone in 2016.
Which means, of course, that Jesus would now be in his Terrible Twos. I hope you’re ready for tantrums and loud shouts of “NO!”.
Although, actually, they may have hit a hitch or two. Reviewing their protocol, which is somewhat interesting and makes me wonder why fundamentalists haven’t seized on this idea before to hasten the Second Coming, there are substantial problems.
“The Jesus Has Returned Project is a private organization devoted to bringing about the Second Coming of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, as prophesied in the Bible,” the The Jesus Has Returned Project spokesman said. “Our intention is to clone Jesus, utilizing techniques pioneered at the Genetic Research Group in Switzerland, by taking an incorrupt cell from the Shroud of Turin, extracting its DNA, and inserting into an unfertilized human egg (oocyte), though the now-proven biological process called symbiotic cellular transfer. The fertilized egg, now the zygote of Jesus Christ, will be implanted into the womb of a young virginal woman (who has volunteered of her own accord), who will then bring the baby Jesus to term in a second Virgin Birth.”
The shroud isn’t going to be a particularly rich source of Jesus cells. It would have had only brief, weak contact with the body, and probably contains far more cells from passing pilgrims and holy men over the centuries. You’re more likely to resurrect some 15th century priest who is not going to be very happy with the high expectations given to him.
The shroud isn’t old enough — it’s been dated to the 13th century. You’re not going to find any Jesus cells at all. Although you may extract a few cells from the fraud who manufactured it, in which case the resurrected man, if such traits are at all hereditary, might be very happy to take advantage of your expectations.
Haven’t the Shroudians argued that the imprint was produced by a burst of intense energy from the miracle that raised Jesus from the dead? Any cells might have been exposed to all kinds of ionizing radiation. Maybe you’d get Jesus — but it would be mutant Jesus. A tumorous, deformed Jesus. Which would be kind of cool, at least for the atheists.
Unfortunately, we do not have a technique for extracting whole human genomes from dead cells and inserting them into enucleate cells. Transferring nuclei is one thing, but this is going to require large scale synthesis and reassembly of over 3 billion nucleotides. We can’t do that yet.
I am intrigued by the notion of “incorrupt cells” from Jesus lurking in the Shroud. Does this imply that all of the, for instance, shed skin cells from Jesus were also brought back to life? What about toenail clippings? Does the site of Jesus’ barber shop contain still-living hair and follicle cells creeping about in the dust of the cellar? Are they independent cells still crawling about like amoeboid Jesi?
I can see a serious theological issue here, too: 40 days after his resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven. All of his old cells may have done so as well — we have to imagine that as Jesus rose bodily into the clouds, there was a corresponding ascension of all the flecks of sloughed tissue, the crusty socks, the gunk in the shower drain, sewer sludge in Jerusalem, all the accumulated detritus of his residence on earth. In which case the shroud may well be totally devoid of any shred of Jesus tissue.
This, unfortunately, prompts another worry. On arriving bodily in heaven, was Jesus also rejoined by everything that had ever flaked or oozed or squirted or dripped off of his body in life? I’m picturing a man surrounded by several times his body weight in slime, walking about the garden paths of heaven, repelling everyone he encounters.
Sorry, it’s been a long day of travel. I get home and my brain is a bit off-balance and is easily sent scurrying off in weird directions.