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Happy New Year!

David Cowles

Jan 3, 2023

“You share 99.9% of my DNA! How scary is that?”

2022! I mean ‘23’. I’ve just started to get used to writing ‘2022’ on everything, and now I have to start all over again. Will this ever end?

Actually, yes, it will and sooner than we let ourselves think; but in spite of that, all of us at ATM/TWS wish you and your loved ones a joyful and meaningful new year.

New Year is also a time to look back… six months… or 1.5 billion years. On 6/1/2022, Issue #1 of Aletheia Today Magazine (ATM) ‘hit the streets’ (metaphorically speaking), supplemented of course by twice weekly issues of Thoughts While Shaving (TWS). In June 2022, we welcomed 450 people to our new site. Thank you for getting us off to a good start.

Now fast forward to December 2022, six months later: 2,000 of you did us the honor of spending time on our site. That’s a month-over-month (MoM) growth rate of 30% per month. Better than Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet combined! That makes Aletheia the 4th ‘A’.

You exceeded our expectations. (We were only looking for 20% MoM, but you came through for us.) Now we’re already halfway to our first anniversary goal of 4,000 engagements per month. Again, thank you, and thanks as well to the 20 or so independent authors who contributed material in 2022. We couldn’t have done this without you!

Now let’s look longer term, 1.5 billion years ago to be exact. Meet our common ancestor, Cell Zero, the greatest grandparent ever. So what! 1.5 billion years is a long time and Cell Zero doesn’t even send me a card for my birthday anymore; I’m done with Cell Zero thank you very much.

Done, not done. I might be done with Cell Zero per se, but Cell Zero isn’t done with me – not by a long shot! Are you alive and living on Planet Earth? Then you too are descended from Cell Zero; Howdy, cousin! Yup, that’s right, we’re cousins ‘several times removed’.

Scripture suggests that we are all neighbors, and it isn’t much of a leap to focus the concept of ‘neighbor’ down to ‘cousin’. Are you reading this from a hut in the Amazon Rainforest, or are you our one subscriber from Tibet who lives alone on a mountainside but faithfully reads every issue? No matter, we’re cousins.

We are all ‘cousins’; we all share a common ancestor and I’m not just talking about Uncle Adam and Aunt Eve. I’m talking about one solitary single celled organism that ‘sprang to life’ about 1.5 billion years ago? “That’s what I’m talkin’ about, Willis.”

But that raises an issue. All life on earth is descended from this one cell. All life! Crocodiles, cockroaches, coral and crackheads (I don’t mean drug users, I mean methane breathing organisms that hang out ominously at the mouths of hot water cracks in the ocean floor, plotting the overthrow of our oxygen-based ecosystem.) So if all terrestrial life forms are descended from this one cell, then I must be cousins with every member of every species on the planet.   

Biogenesis: it’s a great thing but as far as we can tell, it happened once and only once on Earth. Every living thing is a product of this one event. Of course, something similar may have occurred elsewhere in the universe, but as far as Planet Earth is concerned, it’s one and done.

So let’s meet our cousins; we don’t need to go far. What you call ‘your body’ is made up of about three billion ‘cousins’ – i.e., cells - nature’s version of ‘cousins by the dozens’.

Once you’ve properly greeted all three billion of them, we’ll take this body for a walk, across the grass, under the shade trees lining the roadway. We’ll enjoy the fragrance wafting from Mrs. Bellamy’s wildflowers and listen to the parliament of birds: owls, crows, songsters. But steer clear of the black cat crossing the road in front of you and give the neighbors’ barking dog a wide berth. They are all your cousins; cherish them.

We are all cousins because we’re all descended from a single organism. As a result, like cousins everywhere, we share DNA. No surprise there…but we share more DNA than you might think. Take a look at the chart below. It tells how much DNA we have in common with various other lifeforms, excuse me, I mean with our various cousins:

For years people have told you that you were going bananas. You sloughed it off, but it turns out they were half right. In fact, you’re a lot like a lot of things you don’t seem to be like at all. A virus, a blade of grass, a dandelion, come on…and a pig! What, me bacon?

You have 98.5% of your DNA in common with other ‘higher’ primates. Heck, you share 99.9% of your DNA with me, or to put it less comfortably, you share 99.9% of my DNA! How scary is that?

This discussion puts a whole new spin on the lawyer’s question to Jesus: “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus gave what he thought was a scandalous answer: A lousy, filthy, stinking Samaritan. He could have said, “A fruit fly,” but that might have led to ‘premature crucifixion’.

Like all of us, Jesus had to pick his spots. Thanks for reading, thanks for writing; I look forward to spending 2023 with all of you and, once again, Happy New Year!

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- the official blog of Aletheia Today Magazine. 

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