8. The Defeat of the Beast

Many deceivers…. Any such person is the deceiver and antichrist.

The Bible: 2 John 1.7

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the Earth with its top reaching heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it…this is the gate of heaven.

The Bible: Genesis 28.12

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

The Bible: Luke 12.7

Nothing on earth or in heaven is hidden from God. It is he who shapes your bodies in your mother’s wombs as he pleases. The Koran, The ‘Imrans 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

The Bible: Matthew 7.5

Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

The Bible: Matthew 7.17

The Son of man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil… This is how it will be at the end of the age.

The Bible: Matthew 13:41 &49

Your unintentional mistakes will be forgiven, but not your deliberate errors.

The Koran: The Confederate Tribes 5

There is a common misconception in that one-day “The Antichrist” will appear on the Earth to cause havoc and bring about the destruction of the Earth. It has provided the story line for films such as The Omen. However, you only have to read the Bible yourself and in particular, the book of Revelation to discover that there is no such thing as “The Antichrist”. The original use of the term was to describe anyone who opposed the teaching of Jesus. In other words, it is a general term and does not refer to a figurehead of one who is to come. The term is used by John in books 1 John and 2 John. Here he talks about many antichrists who are opposed to the teaching of Jesus and that they exist in the world even then. This is another example of how people change original ideas and then this leads to a misconception. The new idea then holds sway over and above the original writings. What the book of Revelation concentrates on are the opening of the seals followed by the appearance of three beasts, not just one. The one with the number 666 has been equated with “The Antichrist” but it would appear that this might well be incorrect.

Before we try to appreciate what John may have been seeing in his visions, it may be as well to take a temporary historical diversion.

From 1880, the idea that we were all unique began to gather momentum with the advent of modern fingerprinting. The British scientific journal Nature published letters by the Englishmen Henry Faulds and William James Herschel describing the uniqueness and permanence of fingerprints. Their observations were experimentally verified by the English scientist Sir Francis Galton, who made a suggestion, for the first basic system for classifying fingerprints based on grouping the patterns into arches, loops and whorls. Galton's system served as the basis for the classification systems developed by Sir Edward R. Henry, who later became chief commissioner of the London metropolitan police, and by Juan Vucetich of Argentina. The Galton-Henry system of fingerprint classification, published in June 1900, was officially introduced at Scotland Yard in 1901. This quickly became the basis for its criminal-identification records. The system was adopted immediately by law-enforcement agencies in the English-speaking countries of the world. We now had something that made every individual truly unique. It had its first acceptance in an English court case in 1902. Little could anyone have possibly foreseen that almost exactly 50 years later there was going to be a revolution that would not eclipse fingerprinting, but would outshine it by many orders of magnitude.

The chemical deoxyribonucleic acid was first discovered in 1869, but its role in genetic inheritance was not demonstrated until 1943. The chemical’s name would later be abbreviated to DNA for obvious reasons. In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick determined that the structure of DNA is a double-helix polymer, a spiral consisting of two DNA strands wound around each other. The number four is of great significance in genetics. There are just four nitrogen bases from which, the entire human genome is constructed. These are called adenine, which can link with thymine, and cystosine which links with guanine to form pairs that connect the two strands of DNA together like the rungs of an enormous twisted ladder. They are arranged in a sequence within each chromosome. It is the positioning or sequence of these, which gives us our characteristics and accounts for everything that we are, except perhaps for our consciousness. When there is a defect, then a genetic disease can result. There are twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, which make up the entire human genome. That is, we have twenty-two pairs of chromosomes. The twenty-third pair determines our sex. A sperm contains half of the genetic material to make a person and the egg has the other half of the pair of chromosomes. The twenty third one determines our sex. The egg’s twenty-third chromosome has been labelled X. In the sperm though we have what we call an X chromosome or a Y chromosome. If when combined with the egg we have an XX then the offspring will be female. If we have an XY combination then it will be male.

A segment of DNA that codes for the cell's synthesis of a specific protein we call a gene. The whole sequence is the human genome.

DNA replicates by separating into two single strands, each of which serves as a template for a new strand. Two new double-stranded molecules of DNA then form, each containing one of the original strands and one new strand. This replication is the key to the stable inheritance of genetic traits. It was realised that the genetic pattern within DNA served as a fingerprint, which uniquely identifies an individual from millions of others and the now familiar DNA fingerprinting was born. At first, it was necessary to have quite large amounts of DNA to work with in order to produce a match. With the advent of a new technique called a polymerase chain reaction or PCR for short, it became possible to create thousands of copies of a DNA segment so that even a very small sample of DNA can create a match. Naturally, that is why we have seen the reopening of many old criminal cases and their solution many years after the event. As well as the formal identification of people in criminal cases it has also been useful in solving paternity issues, since half of a person’s DNA comes from each parent. By far the most interesting prospect, for the future of us all, is the promise of the eradication of many nasty genetic diseases. Some genes are just individual such as the defective gene discovered as being responsible for cystic fibrosis. The discovery of the gene was as a result of the comparison the genes of those people who carry the disease with those that do not. Then you hope that the gene will identify itself as being present in one group but not in the others. This takes a very long time with the study of many samples. When identified, one method of correction is to randomly insert healthy genes into the chromosomes. Yet, these do not function as well as they would if they were in the proper place in the chromosome itself. A more promising line of research that is under way we call gene targeting.

The estimate is that no fewer than around five thousand human disorders are due to genetic defects. It would also appear that some genes do not just work as individuals. There would appear to be some genes whose job it is to switch on other genes or control them. Genes which act together in this way are much more difficult to spot. It is a bit like a combination lock. The identification of single genes responsible for physical genetic defects results from the comparison of the genetic code of families that may carry the defect with those that obviously do not. This is no easy job but it is a case of comparing the similarities and differences between the two groups to finally identify the defective gene responsible. If you are looking for a combination of genes working together then the job is magnified and is much more difficult. While we at present know the job of parts of the genome and the cause of some physical defects are identified within it, the vast majority of it is unknown.

The Human Genome Project, which took on the task of mapping the entire human genome, completed its work at the end of the twentieth century. According to them, there are between 30,000 to 40,000 genes in the human genome. This compares with, for example, 18,000 in a nematode worm. So, as we go up through primitive life forms from the least advanced to the more advanced, it is not so much that the numbers of genes are increasing, but that there are more control genes increasing in complexity and variety. That is, genes that control other genes.

What we do not know is to what extent our genes govern our mental characteristics. It is generally accepted that certain skills such as having perfect pitch or excellent hand to eye co-ordination when young are inherited. However, what about whether we tend to be happy or sad, weak or resilient, peaceful or violent? It would be interesting if one day it were possible to identify a gene, or combination of genes, that were responsible for predisposing some people to unreasonable acts of violence. If we could eradicate this throughout the world, like smallpox, then the world would be a much safer and enjoyable place to live.

How evil or violence entered the world in the first place is open to speculation since we do not have a time machine available for a first hand scientific inspection. Religious or historical records provide us with their accounts, but where the boundaries lie between fact, fable and allegory it is impossible to determine. We have the traditional biblical version in the second account of creation in Genesis where the serpent misleads Eve. We also have the very mind stretching account of the fallen angels that took on human form. These mated with the daughters of men. They went on to produce giants who corrupted the inhabitants of the Earth. There is a loose referral to this at the start of Genesis 6. A more comprehensive account appears in the book of Enoch, who was sixth in line from Adam and Noah’s great grandfather. Since the books discovery and translation spans the last two hundred and thirty years, it does not form part of the Bible. No doubt, there were copies around when the early church were deciding what went in and what stayed out. You can download it from the Internet or buy books containing it.

The idea of the flood and Noah’s ark was that there would be an attempt to remove all those who had developed evil traits from the world and start again. The religious question is, did it succeed one hundred per cent?

From a scientific point of view, we will have to stick with what we know about science. If it was the original intention that humans should end up being a peace loving and happy worldwide group of people enjoying and subduing the Earth, then something has gone radically wrong. We have the evidence before us on our television screens, in our papers and in our lives, from rapists to armed robbery; from child beating to animal cruelty; from drunken yobs attacking or fighting others; to the new phenomena of the suicide bomber. The thing they have in common is that they are all violent people. The end product is just a different manifestation of the same thing. Non-violent people simply do not do these things. The suicide bomber must harbour a colossal amount of hatred. He must also be violent enough to allow this hatred to not only take the lives of others but also take his own in the process. As a society, we have adopted the approach of trying to deal with the different manifestations of violence that occur. It could be that we should be looking at a deeper-rooted cause. In our way of looking at things, we would say that the violence may be due to a genetic defect or defects. These have occurred in the human race somewhere along the evolutionary line.

There are some who would say, that there is no such thing as a gene or combination of genes, which can be inherited and can affect the personality. Yet, there are reasons to believe that there may well be. For one thing, it is a mainly male preserve. Violent crimes are far more likely to be the result of men than women. According to the Human Genome Project, there are roughly double the number of genetic mutations in males than females. One possible reason offered is the large number of cell divisions in the male sperm line. 

Violence also tends to run in families. Naturally, some of it may be because of their nurture or lack of it as opposed to nature. Most scientists appear to be agreeing on the fifty-fifty approach. That is, that we are 50% what environment dictates and 50% is our genetic inheritance. We have all heard stories about those adopted from violent families, who have still grown up violent, even though their upbringing has been in non-violent homes or surroundings. It used to be said that they must have bad blood in them. Now from our study of genetics, we know that this could extend to every cell of the body. It is our DNA, which exists in every cell of the body, which could be responsible. You also do not come across identical twins where one is violent and the other is not. There is also some recent evidence that some groups of male chimpanzees also can express violent behaviour towards others of their own kind. That is, not violence for the sake of food as in the predator prey relationship, but violence just for violence sake. Other groups from a different descent line are not so predisposed.

It could be that genetic comparisons between violent and non-violent people may one day yield results. It is not going to be easy, but at least we now have the tools at our disposal. Geneticists generally accept that if our genes can affect our personality, then it is unlikely to be one gene working in isolation that will be responsible for a particular trait. It is more likely to be two or three genes working together that would cause the effect. Therefore, we have the idea of “control genes”. They switch on or activate other genes. A combination of genes resulting in an effect is much harder to find than one gene on its own. 

Now lets have a look back at the book of Revelation and the three beasts of Chapters 12 and 13. What is interesting is how the three beasts work together. First, there is the beast that resembles a dragon. This does not so much do damage on its own but it is responsible for providing the power for two other beasts. These are the beast from the sea and the beast from the Earth. The beast from the sea has a fatal wound, which has been healed. This could imply that this one had once almost been eradicated at some time in the past, but it had come back. This is the one with the number 666. Now look how they work together. The dragon gives power to both the other beasts. The beast from the Earth is also under the control of the beast from the sea and is answerable to it. The beast from the Earth also empowers the beast from the sea and allows it to do its work. It would appear that neither of the trio would be very effective on their own and the removal of one would dramatically reduce the power of the other two. Naturally, we could do without all three. According to the visions, preceding the start of the very long period of peace on Earth, they are disposed of. At the end of Chapter 19, the beast from the sea and the beast from the Earth bite the dust and at the beginning of Chapter 20, the dragon is captured and sealed.

Revelation tells us that this will call for patient endurance before the problem is solved. Now, is there not a striking parallel between how some genes behave and the way the three beasts behave? They all support each other. It is a bit like a tripod. Take away one leg and the whole lot collapses.

No one knows as yet whether anything will come of it, but the search is on for the evil gene or a combination of evil genes working together. In this case knocking out the effect of one could disrupt the others in the group leaving them largely ineffective.

Whatever, the outcome it remains to be seen. It certainly makes the reading of the book of Revelation that bit more interesting. Oh yes, and what about that number 666? This is said to be the mark of the beast. In our way of interpreting things, this would be a genetic marker in the DNA printout rather than a physically visible mark. Those that had it would be the ones who carried the “mark of the beast”.

I hope that I am not stretching your credulity too far when I say that, I prefer the translation that says that 666 is the number of a man’s name. The reason? Well after all, Gene is a man’s name and it has its origins in the Greek language. Therefore, it would be the number of a gene. Whether this number will turn out to have any significance remains to be seen. Perhaps it is just telling us that we should start by looking at chromosome number 6. Another number, which occurs seven times, is the number twenty-four in reference to the twenty-four thrones and twenty-four elders. This is very close to the number of pairs of chromosomes in the human genome, the correct answer being twenty-three. Is that relevant, a coincidence or a stretch? In many textbooks that deal with the subject, twenty-four pairs of chromosomes appear in the illustration because of the two alternatives available for the twenty-third pair. If I were a genetic scientist with access to a large samples of DNA from violent criminals in the world’s jails, to compare with a selection from contented people with a well adjusted disposition, then just out of “devilment”, I would begin my search two thirds of the way along chromosome six. Who knows? Still, I am not a genetic scientist, so that’s that.

If we found a gene that was responsible for creating an evil disposition among certain individuals, what would we do? Well, that is a problem for the future. The future will have its own moral dilemmas and ethical complications to deal with. What about the person who may have the gene, but they have not done anything wrong to date? What about the unborn child with the gene? etc. If gene targeting becomes a reliable and effective science, then that would be an ideal answer. Nevertheless, there is a way to manipulate the passing on of genetic information without knowing exactly which gene or combination of genes is actually responsible. This is the pragmatic approach. In the plant and animal kingdoms, we have been manipulating the passing on of genetic information for years. An undesirable trait or condition is simply bread out. We call it selective breeding. We consider it the best way of bringing out the best in any plant or animal stock. Yet, when it comes to the human population, we hold our hands up in horror and start talking about human rights. If you think about it, we have done some genetic pruning to some extent, in the past without knowing. Murderers and other violent criminals were executed. Battles and wars have continually pruned the male population. Does the absence of war lead to an inbreeding of male violence in society? The war is then taken to the streets. In peacetime we just allow the population to propagate in whatever direction it pleases. A garden that is not tended or controlled just reverts to the wild in time. Remember our prime directive, to subdue the Earth. It is not going to result from a magic trick from God. We will have to do the weeding from the knowledge we have gained.

Could it be possible to introduce selective breeding in the human population? How would it work? Well you could terminate the lives of everyone found to have the defective gene. That would not go down very well would it? There may be more gentle and persuasive methods. Violent offenders could have a reduced sentence in exchange for treatment that prevented the passing on of the gene. Perhaps we could pay those with such a defect to volunteer for treatment. We are not talking about an overnight change. The change may be over hundreds of years or longer. Lets hope gene targeting becomes reliable and effective in the future. There may be some other as yet undiscovered approach, which will be highly successful. In fact, we are already doing a form of selective breeding in the human population. We give it the slightly different name of genetic screening. We are using it to screen for a number of different physical inherited genetic defects so that future generations can be free from them. Also, in March 2006, it was reported by New Scientist that studies at the US National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, have revealed a genetic defect that biases some, mainly men, towards impulsive, violent and anti-social behaviour.Who knows what lies ahead? The avenues are beginning to open up.

The above scenario also gives us a reason why there is a need to have some sins forgiven. If a genetic cock up has snaked its way into our genesis, which can affect the personality, just as genetic mistakes have affected people physically, then some sins may have been committed as a result of this mistake, rather than the wilful choice of the individual. The worst sins will be those where a normal individual deliberately and wilfully goes against the Universe or his neighbour in full knowledge and control of their actions. Jesus himself appeared to indicate that not all sins could receive immediate forgiveness in Matthew 12.31.

Another enigmatic concept arises when we consider that different genes are being switched on and off in our brains all the time due to our experience of the world and as we develop our skills or leave them undeveloped as the case may be. This may be why it is never too late to learn something new. It explains why you should not hide your light under a bushel and explains the parable of the talents. On death, you take your skills with you and carry them forward. If you had a talent but never used it may be switched off and therefore lost or taken from you.

For further up to date information, try entering the following words in your search engine in different combinations, evil, violent, gene, genetics, human genome project, genes that control other genes, gene targeting, genetic screening, nature and nurture.

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