Dr Ruth Bancewicz from the Faraday Institute shares some fascinating facts about DNA on DNA day

On this day (25th April) 71 years ago, scientists in America discovered the double helix shape of DNA. In celebration, today is called DNA Day and Esther Higham from the Premier Christian Radio Breakfast team spoke to Dr Ruth Bancewicz from the Faraday Institute. Below is an adapted transcript of their conversation. You can hear their full conversation here.

Give us a bluffers guide to DNA: 

It’s a chemical. It’s inside your body. It’s very, very, very, very thin and very, very, very, very long. Inside each of your cells, which are too small for you to see, there is two metres of DNA. 

It’s a code that works like Morse code. In Morse code, you get your dots and your dashes, and then that is translated into words. So, DNA is like the dots and the dashes, and then the cell has this incredibly clever system to translate that into chunks of the DNA, the right types of DNA, into things that do things in the cell. 

As a complete DNA geek, I think it’s utterly beautiful.


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What does it control in our bodies?

Absolutely everything to do with building and maintaining a cell. And it works a bit like computer code. So, in itself it doesn’t do anything, but with the right machinery, so to speak, it’s the information hub of the whole cell.

As a Christian and a scientist, what does DNA show us about God? Is it proof that we’re designed?

I’m really cautious about using the word proof. Mathematicians prove things. Scientists are a bit more like lawyers, or theologians, we’re just trying to find evidence for the way things are trying to make sense of the data we’ve got, trying to come up with a case for the way things probably are that we know might change as more evidence comes up. 

I look to the psalms that say “the heavens declare the glory of God”, “all of creation sings God’s praises”, and I think DNA, for me, it’s beautiful. It’s complex. It’s intricate. It just looks like it’s made by an incredibly wise God. At the very most, I could say the world bears some kind of faint imprint of God’s fingerprints. 

But I’m really cautious about using scientific evidence, putting our faith in science, I want to put my faith in Jesus. I’ll let science give excitement to my faith. And oh my goodness, it’s so beautiful.


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Stretching to Pluto:

If you took all the DNA out of your body, stretched it out thin (you couldn’t see it). If you added it all, end to end, it would go to Pluto. 6 trillion kilometres. That’s a conservative estimate. 

I can’t get my head around that, even with that kind of illustration. Imagine how far Pluto is. I stand tall and think: “I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.”