Faith in Picogram Quantities

Faith in Picogram Quantities

The proverbial mustard seed

In a footnote to the account of Jesus healing the afflicted child that his disciples failed to heal (here for my post; here for Elder Holland’s talk), Jesus said: 

If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.      Matthew 17:20

There are 90,000 mustard seeds in one pound of seed.  If you do the math and convert to grams, 1 mustard seed weigh 0.005 grams or 5 mg.  It makes me wonder how many grams of faith it took to heal that child.

I spend my days looking at laboratory measurements of a variety of hormones, which when deficient or present in excess result in disease. Hormones are incredibly powerful molecules that have dramatic effects on human physiology.  Even picogram (1 trillionth of a gram, or 1 x 10-12) or nanogram (1 billionth of a gram, or 1 x 10-9 grams) quantities of hormones can cause dramatic changes in physiological parameters like blood pressure, heart rate and glucose utilization.  Adrenaline and noradrenaline are some of the best examples, but cortisol and thyroid hormone are also impressive in this regard.  The pituitary and adrenals especially have a dramatic ability to respond almost instantaneously to situational demands brought on by illness or circumstance.  By secreting minute quantities of highly potent chemical messengers, these glands adapt physiologic activities to  keep us going in the face of stresses that would overwhelm us.

It is interesting to speculate what kind of effects would be generated by a picogram of pure faith. I’m certain it would be more than enough to get us through the trials and tribulations on even our worst days. It’s a shame we haven’t figured out a way to synthesize faith in a test tube or genetically modified E. coli so we can supplement people with hypofaithism as if they had hypothyroidism or hypogonadism.  I guess we’re pretty much forced to manage this deficiency state with lifestyle modification.

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