1822 - 1884
Botanist, Monk, Servant of Christby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
“A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of a fools blurts out folly.” Indeed, Gregor Mendel did store up knowledge in his mind, but not with a cocky air, for he new, as a Christian, that his knowledge came from God and God alone. A shining light for Christ in the realm of science, Mendel left a legacy as the man who greatly advanced the science of plants and mutations that occur in them. Being both scientist and man of God led Mendel to live a life of both discovery and faith.
Gregor Johann Mendel was born as one of three children to peasant parents on July 22, 1822 in Heizendorf, Austria. As Gregor grew older, his parents Anton and Rosine Mendel were delighted with his brilliant performance in school, and sacrificed every spare penny in the hope of their son receiving an education worthy of his intelligent mind. Besides concentrating on his studies, Gregor, as a child, also worked as a gardener along side of his parents to help with the family farm. He was indebted to his younger sister for renouncing part of her dowry to finance his studies.
As a young man, Gregor went on to attend Olmutz Philosophical Institute. With the family’s limited income, the young man decided to join a monastery by the name of St. Thomas Monastery of the Augustinian Order, in 1843. After four years in the monastery, Gregor was ordained a priest in August, 1947. In the following years, after pastoral duty, Gregor decided that he would devote his life now to teaching, and was soon a teacher at a secondary school in Znaim. With a hunger for more training, Gregor entered the University of Vienna in 1851 to receive training on becoming a mathematics and biology teacher, then taught once more in 1854.
Besides being a teacher and clergyman, Mendel was also a man of science.
His most famous accomplishments were those regarding work on the theories
of hereditary, which at that time, were obviously, unproved theories,
as no one had attempted to prove any of them. The outcome of Mendel’s
experimenting with pea plants, was a better understanding of the principles
of genetics and the concept of dominant and recessive genes, and developed
three laws now crucial to the modern understanding of genetics.
Mendel used ordinary pea pod plants and found seven characteristics that were applicable to each of them. Then, “by tracing these characteristics, Mendel discovered three basic laws which governed the passage of a trait from one member of a species to another member of the same species.” Two of the laws that Mendel found from these simple pea plants were Mendel’s law of segregation, and Mendel’s law of Independent Assortment.
Mendel’s research was conducted at the library, mineralogical collection, botanical garden, and herbarium of St. Thomas. Although this monastery had no private laboratory, Mendel managed to do his finest work there. Besides experimenting with his pea plants, Mendel also experimented with crossed-pollinating plants, vegetables, and fruits, creating some of the distinct varieties of produce that we enjoy today. With these plants, and years of meticulous experimentation, Mendel found the principles of dominant and recessive attributes showing up in plants. Although this research took tremendous effort and time, Mendel said that he did the experimentation for “the fun of the thing.” His research, though done in rather primitive settings, is still accredited today because of his ways of experimentation and his large sample size. Mendel’s faith played a huge part in his life alongside of science. He has been called a “zealous defender of the faith”. Though attempts have been made by researchers today to claim that Mendel was really against Christianity and very involved in the evolutionary theories at the time. Despite these attempts to camouflage his faith, proof by writing and by Mendel’s work itself proves his desire to glorify God in his interest in science. Although, at the time, Mendel never knew his research would contribute such an enormous life saving consequent as the development of the Green Revolution, and further experimentation in genetic engineering.
Though only a simple Augustinian monk and teacher, Gregor Mendel discovered new things about genetics that would later prove to be “beyond all that he could ask or imagine.” Mendel left a legacy of a better understanding of genetics but also a legacy of faith that shines through his work. When Mendel conducted these experiments, he probably had no idea of how the results would influence the process of genetic engineering, a controversial subject in the science world today, specifically with the recent exploration of cloning. As magazine Christianity Today said, “Gregor Mendel would no doubt be horrified by the manipulative uses to which some modern, ethically challenged technicians wish to put the knowledge he unlocked.” Gregor Mendel carried on the honorable line of Christian “scientific fathers” with nobility and great success.
1. How many brothers and sisters did Mendel have?
a. 2 sisters
b. 1 brother and two sisters
c. None, because his two sisters died of the Black Plague
d. None, he was an only child
2. Gregor Mendel was a:
a. atheistic evolutionist
d. A man with no professed faith
3. Mendel was responsible for advancements in:
“Gregor Mendel and Mendelian Genetics”
2. Access Excellence at The National Health Museum about Biotech http://www.accessexcellence.org/RC/AB/BC/Gregor_Mendel.html “Gregor Mendel” Sueng Yon Rhee, 2004 (UCLA)
3. http://www.mnsu.edu/emusuem/information/biography/Kimno/mendel-gregor.html “Gregor Mendel
4. http://www.Christianitytoday.com/ct./2002/151/52.o.html “Christian History Corner: The Christian DNA of Modern Genetics” Armstrong, Chris, 2002