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What is laminin?

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Question: "What is laminin? Is there any significance to laminin being in the shape of a cross?"

Laminin is the name used for a family of proteins that serve many useful functions in biology. The most important property of laminins is their ability to easily bind to each other and to other proteins. This makes laminin a critical means of holding tissues and organs together. It has been described as the protein equivalent of glue, though it functions differently than actual chemical glue will. These proteins have several short arms that bind easily to other laminins and a single long arm that binds easily to other cell structures and membranes. Flattened out, laminins have a shape generally in the form of a lower case t, which some have compared to the shape of a cross.

This vague resemblance to a cross is the reason for the surge of interest in laminin in some Christian circles. Several years ago, internet videos and emails began to circulate claiming that laminin’s cross-like shape was an intentional sign from God. In particular, these claims made a connection to verses such as Colossians 1:15–17, which, speaking of Christ, says, “In Him all things hold together.” The resemblance of a molecule heavily responsible for the “holding together” of tissues to the symbol for Christ has to be more than coincidence, according to some. The correlation between laminin and the cross has also inspired t-shirts, jewelry, and other variations on the theme.

From a practical standpoint, the shape of laminin is neither unique nor extraordinarily similar to a cross. When drawn as a two-dimensional diagram, with three short arms and one long, it certainly looks like a crucifix. However, in actual three-dimensional space, laminins are not clean, flat, t-shaped structures. They have also been described as looking like flowers, jacks, or pyramids. The t-shape itself is neither complex nor uncommon in nature. Beyond that, there are many simple shapes found in nature that could be correlated to other, non-Christian spiritual beliefs. Viewed from the top, the DNA helix looks similar to a yin yang symbol from Chinese philosophy. Other molecules in DNA are shaped like pentagrams, a common shape in Satanic art.

The shape of laminin could also be interpreted to mean something completely different. The protein’s arrangement also resembles the Greek letter psi, which is used in astronomy to represent the planet Neptune. By this, could one argue human life actually started on that planet? The same Greek letter often represents parapsychology topics such as ESP and telekinesis—would this be evidence that such abilities are real? Or, could one claim laminin looks like a pitchfork and use that correlation as a biological proof of our inherited sin nature? Naturally, all of these theories are ridiculous. Such conclusions are completely unrelated to the shape, function, or purpose of laminin. These supposed connections are not the product of careful reasoning but of sign-seeking.

One of the most direct biblical passages dealing with sign-seeking is Mathew 16:4, where Jesus responds to a demand for a miraculous sign from the Pharisees. Jesus condemns this attitude, and this derision is repeated often in the New Testament (e.g., Matthew 12:39, 1 Corinthians 1:22). A human desire for miraculous confirmation of truth is impossible to satisfy. At best, it distracts us from the actual signs God has put into the world (Romans 1:20, Psalm 19:1) and from effectively contending for the faith (Jude 1:3). At worst, it’s an attempt to skirt responsibility for our beliefs by asking for more and more spoon-fed signals from God (John 6:26–30).

The fact that laminin, a binding protein, has a shape vaguely similar to a cross is an interesting quirk of biology. However, this is not the means by which God makes Himself known in the world, nor are the properties of laminin what the Bible means by Christ “binding” us. This is not the type of thing serious-minded Christians ought to put much stock in (1 Timothy 1:4).

Recommended Resource: The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism by Philip Johnson

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