Saturday, November 07, 2015

The Great Laminin Hoax: Sorry To Burst Your Bubble



I’m sad to say that I needed someone to point this out to me, but the very popular post and video going around from Christian speaker, Louie Giglio, regarding the cross-like shape of the Laminin molecule and how that is, supposedly, pointing to how Jesus is the one who “holds all things together” as referenced in Colossians 1:15-20, is totally false.

Sorry. It’s not true.

The first problem is simply that the the purportedly cross-shaped Laminin protein is not cross-shaped. Not even close.

Let’s back up and summarize the claims before we get going.

Here are the basic claims being made:

“Laminins are a family of proteins that are an integral part of the structural scaffolding of basement membranes in almost every animal tissue. Laminins are what hold us together, literally. They are cell adhesion molecules. They are what holds one cell of our bodies to the next cell. Without them, we would literally fall apart.”

That part is true. No problem there.

The problem comes when people like Louie Giglio [and he is the originator of this growing myth these days] shows everyone a diagram of Laminin that looks like this:




Wow. That probably reminds you of something, doesn’t it? Well, yes. It is sort of “cross-shaped”. But that’s an artist’s rendering designed to help students and scientists understand the component structure of the molecule.

Here’s what the actual Laminin molecule looks like under an electron microscope.



Uhm…Err...uh...yeah. Well, that’s not very cross-like is it? 

No. Not really.

Does that mean that Jesus doesn’t “hold all things together” the way Colossians claims?

Of course Jesus holds all things together. But does he only do that through Laminin molecules? Does everything have to be cross-shaped to testify of Christ’s power or to point to Him?

No, that’s not how it works.

There’s no magic in the shape of a cross. The crucifix is not a totem or a talisman. It’s just a shape.

The blood of Jesus is what sets us free. The death of Jesus is what tore the veil in the Temple. It wasn’t the shape of the cross.

So, maybe we should stop sharing posts that make us look silly to actual scientists who know that we’re off-base and talking about things we really don’t understand?

That would be my suggestion, for what it’s worth.

-kg

NOTE: Special thanks to Grant Alford for pointing out this hoax to me.


See Snopes: Laminin Hoax

26 comments:

the alternative1 said...

No problem--its just another attempt to try to use science to prove the reliability of the bible gone too far.

Darryl Yates said...

Have you ever looked at electron micrographs of cells? If you have, you know that no two cells or oganelles, or in this case proteins, are ever in the same orientation. Even when they are the same cell type. The "cross" shape is an accurate shape of laminin if it were flattened out and made rigid.

I understand what you are saying, however, and I agree. The crucifix is just a symbol that Christians have taken up due to a popular verse. "Then Jesus said to his disciples 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up the cross and follow me'". Matthew 16:24. The cross itself is not what holds us together. It is the Holy Trinity that give us strength and holds us together. Laminin is a protein found in the basal lamina of the epithelium so it doesn't hold us together either. It's just one of many proteins that are responsible for holding your epithelial cells against the underlying connective tissue.

I also see Louis Giglio's point. He was demonstrating the reaches of our God and how he can be vast and "breathe the stars" into formation and simultaneously take the time to create a little molecule to remind us that no problem is too small to bring to God. I love that more scientists are trying to spread the message that science and religion are not mutually exclusive. In order to have the greatest understanding of this world, we need to understand both. Science can give us the "how" to the questions of this universe. Religion is complimentary and gives us the "why", gives us purpose.

If you would like a great read for the convergence of science and religion, I encourage you to read "The Science of God".

Keith Giles said...

I have read - and loved - Schroeder's "The Science of God". Thanks!

Joe Schmuckatelli said...

Polypeptides are vaguely shaped like swastikas. There are ten million non-carbon compounds, but, as carbon can bond with itself, ninety million carbon compounds. It isn't hard to find any shape and configuration your little heart desires in this chemical hodgepodge. It is known that Nazi Germany sullied what was once a symbol of wholesome spirituality. Anyone latching onto these laminin diagrams to cherry-pick factoids from fields of resesearch previously ignored due to the cancerous effects logic has on superstition aren't likely to tolerate the historical contamination long enough to resolve such impressions.

Unknown said...

Outstanding grammatical prowess...

Leslie said...

Mr Giglio was making the connection between Colossians 1:1hithat states .."He is before all things and in Him all things hold together..." with the fact that laminin is a cell adhesion molecules shaped like a cross that helps to hold our cells together. Quite an interesting connection and I am thankful for it. God's order is all over scripture and all over creation, why would it not be in our bodies as well?

Leslie said...

I really like what Darryl explained and I don't understand the need to try and prove Louie Giglio wrong. I do see the cross in the actual microscopic image and I believe Mr. Giglio was simply but profoundly trying to explain Colossians 1:17 that he is before all things and in him all things are held together. The fact that laminin is an adhesion molecule that helps our cells to stay together is information I am thankful for and it is not anything that supersedes biblical truth but just accents it. Gods order and finger prints are seen throughout scripture, throughout creation and why in the world would it not be seen in our very own bodies even on the minutest scale? It seems like there would be other Pursuits worth seeking more than this one Mr.Giles.

Heather Delhom said...

What you failed to point out Mr. Giles, is in the video where Mr. Giglio shares his thoughts about lamimin, he shows the artist's version of laminin, however he does show an actual picture of laminin just as you have. He was also informed about laminin by one of your fellow scientists; someone who shared this idea with Mr. Giglio. So call it a hoax if you must but when I saw laminin, I choose to believe that it was another way to prove that God loves us much, that not only did HE give his only son to die for our sins, but that we each hold a piece of our Savior deep within our very construction.

Katherine George said...

There is another picture of an actually protein under a microscope that does look like a cross and that one you've shown is just a bent over cross. It doesn't have to be a perfect shape to be the shape of a cross. I don't think anyway. I think it is still viable.

Anonymous said...

The scientific diagram of laminin is a cross. I repeat, the scientific diagram of laminin is a cross. Most real laminin IS a cross. So you've found this one - but it still follows the scientific diagram: which is a cross.

Maybe time to ask yourself which side you're working for. Instead of trying to disprove something with a disputable, minuscule anomaly, look at the bigger picture. The SCIENTIFIC diagram of laminin is cross! Most real laminin is a cross.

Geez.

Keith Giles said...

Dear Geez,

Thank you for your comment. I play for Team Jesus. He's my King.

But the cross is not a magic symbol. If the Laminin shape was a circle or a hexagon would that mean Jesus wasn't holding all things together? Would a different shape negate the scripture?

Of course not.

We need to stop embracing magical thinking...

Geez

awiefoong said...

"We need to stop embracing magical thinking..." I fully agree with this statement. However, when I saw the schematic of laminin in a few scientific journal articles, that's not magical thinking, it's yet another reminder that the Trinity God is the creator of all beings. We don't need evidence to prove the authenticity of the Bible; but that doesn't mean that those evidences are simply magical thinking, no?

Lorraine Hunt said...

I agree with Daryl Yates and Leslie...I believe that Laminin could very well be a sign for Christians... I do see the cross-like shape in the actual molecule...sure it is not as profound as the diagram is but what diagram is? I have studied sciences such as Chemistry, Microbiology, Anatomy and every diagram I studied was simplified for understanding the molecule... Does it mean that God put the cross-like shape in our bodies to hold us together? I don't know that but as a Christian I believe God created us and I believe there is a reason for every molecule. I believe He has a sense of humor and I would not be surprised if He did that for us to find. Look at all the amusing animals...God created so many amusing animals for us to enjoy... Thank you Jesus for the cross and your sacrifice for us...I can't wait to ask you about Laminin.

Anonymous said...

Well, our kidneys are roughly a crescent shape. Does that therefore 'prove' that Islam is true? Come on guys... get a grip. The shape of structures in our bodies is not valid 'evidence' of anything to do with Christianity. As a Christian I certainly believe that the God of the Bible is our creator, but the evidence for His handiwork is in the complexity of creation and we infer our creator's existence based on sound argument. The shape of a protein which just happens to look roughly like a traditional Christian symbol does not constitute sound scientific evidence for God. It is also worth pointing out that the cross is only a Christian symbol when upright. Upside down it is a satanic symbol. Are we therefore to reason that if a laminin protein is discovered 'upside down' in our bodies that therefore.... well... you get the point...

MarthaW said...

I found an article that gives a somewhat similar but slightly different perspective - and of course faith does not hinge on the shape of one molecule, but Dr. Georgia Purdom wrote (at Answers in Genesis): "one of the early papers on the structure and function of laminin said this: “Globular and rodlike domains are arranged in an extended four-armed, cruciform shape that is well suited for mediating between distant sites on cells and other components of the extracellular matrix”1, citing this paper: K. Beck, I. Hunter, and J. Engel,“Structure and Function of Laminin: Anatomy of a Multidomain Glycoprotein,” The FASEB Journal 4 (1990):148–160.

Link to Dr. Purdom's post is at https://answersingenesis.org/biology/microbiology/laminin-and-the-cross/

Dr. Purdom, a former college professor, thinks people shouldn't be looking for signs etc. but does also point out that "it is clear that we can know God through what He has made," and that laminin does actually apparently look like a cross.

SonsoflibertyX said...

Im a Christian and a medical doctor. There are plenty of reasons to marvel at the natural world, and biology in particular, not least among these being the incredible complexity of the biochemistry necessary for life and the fact that we are essentially matter that has become self-aware and self-conscious. We are very far from understanding how matter can organize itself into a sentient being. However, this business of using the shape of a biological molecule as evidence of God simply because the historical Jesus was crucified on a structure that may or may not have looked like a cross (billions of years after the genes coding for lamimin evolved, mind you) is completely illogical and cheapens the true nature of an omniscient and omnipotent God. God doesn't need such petty and religiocentric foolishness to reveal himself to intelligent humans. The true evidence of God is in the improbability, yet the reality, of inanimate matter evolving somehow into life and then living cells organizing themselves into intelligent beings.

MarthaW said...

"We are very far from understanding how matter can organize itself into a sentient being." Well, amazingly enough, there actually are scientists with doctoral degrees who actually believe that matter did NOT "organize itself" into a sentient being - some believe that God did that, and there is actually a body of scientific research that supports the belief that human life was directly created by God. Not all scientists believe in Darwinism. When Darwin formulated his hypotheses, no one knew about DNA, and molecular biology was unknown. It seems improbable that DNA just put itself together - even the simplest forms of life have incredibly complex genetic material. The denomination I belong to says it's fine for people to accept evolution, and evolution is pretty much supported by leadership - with the idea that God created through use of evolution - but - there is a whole body of research looking at some the gaps in current evolutionary theory, and looking at alternative perspectives such as "intelligent design" and also - looking at scientific evidence that would be confirmatory for creation - I think that there is a solid basis for what is often called "Creation Science," though I know probably the majority of educated people will disagree. But - back to laminin. I believed in God before I knew about laminin, and I would still believe in God even if laminin were totally a hoax made up by somebody who hates Christians and just wants to spoof us - but - it does seem to be a rather cross shaped molecule, and it does happen to fit with Scripture - and what an amazing image of Jesus "holding all things together." But - no, I actually don't believe that the genes that code for laminin evolved billions of years ago. But I don't think the laminin thing is a "proof" of God - he has revealed himself to us in better ways than that - but I don't think it's silly either. It does give us a visual or way to reflect more deeply on how he does hold us together - maybe he coded inside us a sign of his love and his presence - he has always been big on symbols.

Unknown said...

I believe Paul, said this planet and evrything in it is evidence all in its self of God existence.

Anonymous said...

I didn't read every comment and this may have already been addressed in this article so please forgive me for being redundant, but here is what I observed.

I noticed when reading over info regarding laminin that the alpha, beta and gamma chains have a letter sequence. When I read all three it stood out prominently to me, to the point that I questioned if someone had named it on purpose. I was drawn to the Beta chain because it has a letter sequence that spells LAMB. You have the free will to contemplate the implication of that for yourself.

MarthaW said...

Anonymous - I do have an advanced degree in a health science field, but it has been a long time since I studied anything related to molecular biology. I hate to show my ignorance on what you are saying, and I believe you, but can you say more about the letter sequence that spells lamb. I checked on wikipedia, and - I know it's wikipedia, so not the most authoritative source, but it did confirm what you said: "Laminin subunit beta-1 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the LAMB1 gene.[3][4][5][6]" This is at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laminin,_beta_1#cite_note-entrez-6

So - the beta chain of Laminin is coded by the LAMB1 gene whose letter sequence spells LAMB - but I don't remember what the letters stand for...

But - at wikipedia, there were numerous citations to journal articles and the ones I checked, or additional scholarly papers that I clicked on from references of one to others - all stated that "Laminin is a cross-shaped molecule," or alternatively, they start out with something about Laminins being a family of glycoproteins that "form a cruciform structure," and of "cruciform" would mean "cross-shaped." So it might appear that the real hoax is very well meaning people who say Laminin is not "cross-shaped." Again, I can believe in God with or without laminin, but I do believe that the genes that code for these things didn't just put themselves together - way too complex even over billions of years - and it is interesting to reflect on.

Anonymous said...

Joe, one day your clock is going to stop ticking, and you will have to give an account for your life to an infinite God you somehow thought you could logic away with your eloquent speach. He is offering a free gift of eternal salvation wherein your sin debt was paid by his son who died in your place. All you have to do is believe that what he did was enough to save you from the dark eternity that is coming for you, and forgiveness for rejecting him, and he will. You don't understand because you don't know him. He exists outside of all logic, space and time. God is not logical, but he is real. Go read up on CS Lewis, JR Tolkien, Ken Hamm, and Lee Stroble. All former Atheists, or maybe you think you are smarter than they are.

Unknown said...

So true

Kindra Powell said...

I thank God for each insightful comment

Anonymous said...

" Greater Is He that IS IN ME" than He that is in the World" . your the one looking outside. Dont you know the kingdom of god is within you??~ Jesus

Mike Craig said...

I am so glad that my faith isn't based on the shape of a protein but instead, Jesus. If someone proves the shape of all proteins are actually pentagram stars, my faith will endure in Jesus.

B Coburn said...

Kust stumbled on this and I agree with author completely. I fear by getting distracted by things like this we actually damage our cause. ..I see family members posting this and as a follower of Jesus the enthusiasm is great, but it could easily be a t or an f.. and any shape yoy wanna look for you can find in a biology book. Feels like reaching... there are so many better pieces of evidence or things unexplained to point to. Any non believer just looks at it ad reaching and it honestly doesn't feel very honest. I feel like when a big fad like this spreads in our belief it really hurts our crediblity when talking to non believers.