What Would Jesus’s DNA Do?

Setting aside that the actual lab results have no correlation to Tesoriero’s claims about them, let’s look into Tesoriero’s hypothesis that Jesus would have special DNA because he doesn’t have a human mother. What results would we expect from a piece of Jesus’s heart on these DNA tests?

If Jesus somehow only had one copy of DNA from his mother, and it was either duplicated or a single strand (haploid) functioning by magic, we would expect all of his results to show a single band in the STR test. Remember how I said for D3S1358, you might have 18/19, while I might have 13/17? Well Jesus would always have the same number twice. So his results would come back as 16/16, 13/13, etc. Technically, if he did have haploid DNA he would really only have one 16. But there would be no way to tell that from the results. Because human beings always have diploid DNA, a single band is presumed to mean two copies of the same allele, so the results would be reported as 16/16. If Jesus had no Y chromosome because he had no human father, he should still have at least one X chromosome, so the Amelogenin test would show him as female. So we would expect some unusual results on the STR test, but not no result.

So what if Jesus for some reason didn’t have DNA? I bring this up because sometimes it seems like this is what Tesoriero is implying, but it doesn’t make sense. DNA isn’t just some code hidden in your cells used identify people. It has functions that are crucial to life. Is he saying each protein in Jesus’s body was produced miraculously whenever Jesus needed it? This seems incompatible with Catholic theology, because if his basic bodily functions were driven by constant miracles, certainly he couldn’t be considered “fully human”.

A more interesting possibility is if Jesus was missing just the STRs tested for, so he was 0/0 on all of the tested loci. All of these are located in non-coding regions or “junk DNA” – the ones that start with D are regions outside of genes, and the ones in Amelogenin, VWA and FGA are on introns (DNA segments inside of a gene that are edited out when coding for a protein). So, none of them are directly involved in coding for proteins. Most non-coding DNA is important in some way, including in ways we don’t yet understand.  But the particular STRs used in genetic profiling are chosen because they vary a lot between humans. Which, by definition, means mutations in these areas are unlikely to kill you. So these particular areas may be more disposable than most DNA. I could imagine some weird merging of Catholic and Creationist ideas where mutations are a result of original sin, and Mary’s immaculate conception removed original sin, so in that process her genome was “cleaned” of any bits that weren’t necessary.

So, hypothetically, if the QuantiBlot had detected significant quantities of human DNA, and the PCR STR had returned no results, would this hypothesis be consistent?

While it might not matter how many copies you have, there are no recorded cases of any human having 0 copies of any of these sequences, or even only 4 copies. The lowest known number of copies for any of them is someone who only had 5 copies of D13S317, and that’s the only person with less than 8. For D21S11, everyone has more than 24 copies. It’s hard to imagine a mechanism by which Adam would have been created without this sequence, and all of his descendants somehow wound up with at least 24 copies of the same sequence.

You also probably wouldn’t get no result even if the DNA actually had no STRs. The PCR doesn’t select what to amplify based on the segments that vary between humans. If it did that you would need different primers for each individual. Instead, the primers bind to areas outside the target STRs, areas which are the same in all humans. So even if the STRs were missing, the primers would still attach to the DNA outside the STRs. And those areas are important for life. Amelogenin is a protein that directs the mineralization of enamel, and VWA and FGA are proteins that are necessary for blood clotting. Did Jesus not have teeth? Did his blood not clot?

If all of the DNA that belongs between the primers was missing, they would amplify very little DNA, and the amplified DNA would likely get lost on the gel and missed. But the primers aren’t all located that close to the STRs. For the AmpFlSTR Profiler Plus PCR Amplification Kit, for D18S51 you would still have 237 base pairs even with all of the STRs deleted. That would result in a band in an unexpected location, which would have confused the researchers, but it would certainly have been noticed. So there should have been results at least for that locus.

It’s hard to say what a miracle would look like. But after a pretty thorough search for possibilities, I can’t imagine proposal for Jesus’s DNA that would result in a positive QuantiBlot test and absolutely no results on the PCR STR, the situation Tesoriero seems to be claiming.

But, of course, the Quantiblot only found trace DNA anyway. So this whole exercise was really just a thought experiment.

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