Here is the link to Bonnie’s cool Ted Talk …Very interesting and only 18 minutes.
(Rough transcript of my vlog)
While I was doing research on the digestive system it quickly became apparent how important bacteria was in the overall process. So, as I was digging for more information I found this talk by a molecular biologist at Princeton named Bonnie Bassler. What she and her fellow scientists had discovered was that individual bacteria, previously thought of as “socially reclusive”, actually communicate with each other in order to accomplish tasks within the body.
Well the first thing that I thought of when I heard this was “Imago Dei” or the concept that humans are created in the image and likeness of God. God being the Holy Trinity and the Holy Trinity being this eternal exchange of self giving love between God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and the God the Holy Spirit. They are in eternal “communion” or communication with each other but yet are one all at the same time. The human person reflects this in our desire for communion with each other (marriage, friendship, working together, etc.) and in our desire for communion with God. So, one could argue that we are a reflection of God’s image in that we have this innate desire for communion on various levels. The quote by British poet John Donne (and made famous, at least for me by the film “About A Boy”) “No man is an island.” seems appropriate here. We weren’t made to be alone. There is something about that the nature of the human person that calls us into communion with one another.
Now individual bacteria don’t have a communion with each other that may be overtly “selfless” like the Trinity but they do communicate. These single cell organisms come together and communicate with each other to accomplish single tasks within the body. Bonnie mentions that the inspiration for Ted Talks was “to do things together cause it makes a difference” and mentions that the bacteria are similar. Human beings come together (or have communion) to accomplish things that they probably wouldn’t be able to do on their own. Again, we were made for communion. It’s baked into our biological cakes so to say.
I think that is pretty cool that even on some of the smallest of molecular levels within the human person we see this principle of communion. And as Bonnie mentions in her talk human beings are made up of any where from 90 to 99 percent bacteria. That’s a lot of communion going on! Pretty cool!