The Marvelous Mystery of Man
March 10th, 1957 @ 8:15 AM
THE MARVELOUS MYSTERY OF MAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
03-10-57 8:15 a.m.
This is the 8:15 o’clock morning hour. This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The Marvelous Mystery of Man. And by that we refer to the creative genius, the infinite skill of God in fashioning the human body and in creating the human soul.
We have been preaching these last several Sundays through the creative stories in the first chapter of Genesis and did come to the twenty-sixth verse: "And God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness’" [Genesis 1:26]. Twenty-seventh verse: "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them" [Genesis 1:27]. And in the second chapter of Genesis, the seventh verse: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" [Genesis 2:7].
The wonder of that creative workmanship is not alone in the Garden of Eden nor is it a miracle of the beginning of the human family. A man’s body is the most marvelous physical creation in the universe. The making of a star, of a continent, of a mountain range, an ocean is not to be compared with the wonder of the skill that entered into the making of a man’s body. The greatest spiritual creation in this earth is a man’s soul: his mind, his memory, his personality, the spirit that resides within him – "and man became a living soul" [Genesis 2:7].
But this miracle that was wrought by the skillful, infinitely-wise, and adroit hands of God in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, is repeated every day, everywhere. We do not have to look back to that far-away age to wonder at the creative masterpiece of God. The Lord brings to pass the same miracle every day in place after place. For example, in the 139th Psalm, here the psalmist, David, in his song, mentions this fearful and wonderful miracle of God which happens, I say, every day and all around us. Listen to David as he says:
Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb . . .
I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . .
My substance was not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
[from Psalm 139:13-16]
The Lord looking down as He begins to fashion in this lowest part of the earth that substance – the most marvelous, miraculous substance in the earth – by which God makes the body "fearfully and wonderfully made": the marvelous mystery of the man.
A man’s body can be likened to a factory on the inside of which are thousands, and millions, and billions, and uncounted trillions of little pieces of intricate and marvelous machinery speeding, working at high tempo every day, every night, every moment. Or, a man’s body can be likened to a great, vast city, and on the inside of that city are ten times thirty trillions of inhabitants.
Ten hundred thousand is a million. Ten hundred million is a billion. Ten hundred billion is a trillion. Ten times thirty trillion – something like three hundreds of trillions of little citizens on the inside of that vast city, all of them with a task assigned, working infinitely, intricate bits of machinery at high speed, teaming-like. So tiny are those little cities that in one little speck of blood no bigger than the pinhead of a pin, in that little one millimeter cubit of blood there will be five million of those little inhabitants – all of them busy, all of them with a task assigned, all of them doing its part to operate this infinitely intricate machinery.
Those little living people that form this marvelous creative workmanship we call the man, those little people are called cells. And that cell is filled with the most amazing, and remarkable, and marvelous substance in this universe: protoplasm. The little cell, those little people, are made like this: first, there is a cell wall. The containing tube has a membrane, and that membrane is pervious. Some things can go through that cell wall. Some things can come out of that cell wall. Other things are prohibited. That little, tiny cell wall is a marvel in itself.
But on the inside of that little cell wall there is a substance: cytoplasm. In that cytoplasm are infinitely small little spaces, and those little spaces are filled with molecules of fluid, of proteins, of sugars, and of salt. But the most miraculous of all of the miraculous things in the building of that little cell, on the inside of that cytoplasm, there floats a tiny sphere, and it is called the nucleus. That’s the center of life. On the inside of that nucleus are little small chromatin granules, and in the process of mitosis, cell division, those little chromatin granules gather together into rods that we call chromosomes.
Every distinct family, every one of the unbreakable species that God has made, has its distinguishing number of chromosomes and on those chromosomes a distinguishing number of genes. Drosophila, this banana fly, this common fruit fly that geneticists have been experimenting with for half a century – that drosophila has four big chromosomes, and on those four chromosomes are from about twelve to fifteen thousand genes on each one. And those little genes have to do with all of the things of heredity and the building of the body.
The distinguishing number of chromosomes in the cells of a man are forty-eight. All of those billions and billions of cells are human cells, and they have forty-eight chromosomes in the nucleus of each one. On those chromosomes are those genes that have to do with heredity and the building of the body. Some have estimated that on those forty-eight chromosomes in the nucleus of a man, there may be as many as 800 million of those little tiny genes that have to do with the building of the body.
Now, in those chromosomes in the nucleus of the man, in the woman, in each cell there are forty-eight – the human number – and there are two chromosomes that are a little different, a little distinguished, and they’re called XX chromosomes. In the man, there are forty-eight chromosomes, the number of the human body, but the two that are different in a man are XY. They’re not quite the same.
In the human reproductive cell, when those chromosomes are divided, in the woman, in the female, the egg cell in dividing the forty-eight chromosomes will have twenty-four in one and twenty-four in the other. Then those two X chromosomes, one will be in each one of the female eggs – twenty-four chromosomes, one of them an X; twenty-four chromosomes, the other one an X. In the male germ, however, in the sperm of the man, when the reproductive cell is created and the chromosomes divide half, there will be twenty-four in one cell: one of them an X; twenty-four in the other cell, but one of them a Y.
Then, when they are mated – when the two are placed together – you have twenty-four from the female, twenty-four from the male, and again, you have your forty-eight chromosomes. If the twenty-four from the female with the X chromosome is fertilized by the twenty-four – with the twenty-four from the male and the X chromosome, it’s a girl – XX, girl. But if the twenty-four from the female is fertilized with the twenty-four from the male and it’s a Y, it’s a boy – XX, a girl; XY, a boy. So without teaching and without training, those marvelous, infinitesimally small little genes and little chromosomes and little cells begin their long and eventful journey building the marvelous body of the marvelous man.
Some of them seem to be leaders and directors, and some of them seem to obey orders which they do faithfully, immediately, and meticulously. Some of those little people seem to be masons. Some of them seem to be carpenters. Some of them seem to be plasterers. Some of them seem to be generals and leaders; some of them ordinary workmen; some of them doctors; some of them lawyers. Some of them seem to be merchants; some of them sailors; some of them policemen; some of them soldiers. Just all kinds of those little people as without direction, without previous experience, without training, they begin to build this marvelous thing that we call the man.
And within the first few weeks, over there in one corner, there are some pumping engineers, and they begin to construct a little, simple, one-chambered heart that begins to beat and to pump fluid. And then just about the same time, the plumbers are laying down all kinds of little pipelines from that little, one-chambered heart that the pumping engineers have constructed, and that pump begins to pump a little fluid through those pipelines. And when you look at it closely, it’s a moving cafeteria. It’s a conveyer belt on which are all kinds of things to eat so that all of those carpenters, and plumbers, and electricians, and builders can have their food laid right at their door – the marvelous mystery of those little workmen. And then, within about two months, out of nowhere, there appear the boom builders, and they begin to lay down their structures like a man builds a great skyscraper.
And then there appear seemingly out of nowhere the teeth carpenters. And they begin to gather material for the enamel and for the dentine and for the cement and for all the things that go into the laying down of those teeth buds. And they say when they’re needed, "We’ll be right on time." Everything done just according to schedule – not a thing missing, not a thing delayed. And they say, "You wait for your criticism until we are completely finished."
And they work and they work, and by three months, everybody’s on the job. Everything is teaming, and everything is busy. There are the bone builders gathering calcium and phosphorus in the right proportions and laying it down for the building of the skeleton. And there are the plumbers laying all of those pipelines, thousands and thousands of fifty and a hundred thousand miles of pipelines all ready for that unusual pumping instrument to force its fluid through.
And then there are the electricians, and they’re laying down their cables all through the body in order that they might have a fine communication system. And then there are those most marvelous of all little tissues, the endocrine glands, that are beginning to manufacture their hormones – those little messenger boys that can be sent in any part of this marvelous body.
And then there are those power machines, the muscles, that are being rigged up and ready to work and to generate power, and they are being tied to all of the bones. And then, after a little while, from the photographic department and from the auditory department, the technicians of photography and the technicians of the auditory system are called in, and they begin to work. And there before our eyes, those little technicians construct the most marvelous camera in this world: the millions of little cells, the little people that are working there, making the cornea, and then making the lens, and the little, tiny, tiny muscle around that lens, and then the retina, then the optic nerve – then, in order to protect it, building an eyelid and on the inside a smooth membrane to protect it. And then on this side, the outer side, building a little water fountain – a little lacrimal gland – by which that little, delicate eye, that little photographic piece, can be constantly washed and bathed and kept meticulously clean. Oh!
And after everybody’s done his part and all the little workmen, without teaching and without training, after they have all done their work, then upon a day, the physician, and the father, and the family, and the neighbors, and the friends, they hear the cry of a newborn baby. God has done it again.
Can you imagine that? The wonder, the miracle: don’t have to go back to Eden, don’t have to go back to the beginning – there it is before your eyes. The most marvelous, inexplicable mystery in this created universe how those little people create the body of a man. But we haven’t started. The mysteries that are on the inside of that creative workmanship are absolutely beyond imagination.
Then we enter the mystery of growth. What makes that little child turn into a man? What makes him grow? Nobody knows. But the days pass, and there he is growing, and growing, and growing. In my reading, I came across a poem entitled "The Problems of Anatomy."
Where can a man buy a cap for his knee or a key to the lock of his hair?
Can his eyes be called an academy because there are pupils there?
What gems are found in the crown of his head?
Who crosses the bridge of his nose?
Can he use, when shingling the roof of his house,
the nails on the ends of his toes?
Can the crook on his elbow be sent to jail?
If so, what can he do?
How does he sharpen his shoulder blades?
I’m sure I don’t know. Do you?
Can he sit in the shade of the palms of his hands?
Or beat on the drum of his ear?
Does the calf of his leg eat the corn on his toes?
If so, why not grow corn on the ear?
["The Problems of Anatomy," by Anonymous]
The marvelous mystery of the child as he begins to grow, and he grows, and he grows. And who tells him when to stop? His head will grow to the right size, then it will stop. And his lungs and his heart will grow to the right size, then they stop. And his arms will grow just to the right length, then they stop. Then his feet and his legs will grow to their right size, and then they stop. Who tells them how long and how big and when to stop? Nobody knows. It’s one of the mysteries of the marvelous man. Abraham Lincoln [1809-1865], tall, lean, and angular, was one time asked, "How long should a man’s legs be?" And he replied, "They ought to be long enough to reach from his body to the ground."
But we haven’t begun the marvelous mystery of this man. We haven’t begun. As the child grows and turns into a man, think of the marvelous mystery of change and supply and rebuilding and reconstruction. It goes on fabulously, enormously, miraculously, every minute and moment of every day of every week of every month of every year of the whole life. The entire body, all of it, is being marvelously rebuilt. The solidest bone, piece by piece – like you take timbers out of a railroad bridge, piece by piece – they are being torn down and reconstructed. Every little old piece of the eye is being taken apart and rebuilt just like a factory with millions of wheels and billions of spindles and looms. Every little old piece of it is being taken apart and remade, yet it never loses a moment of time.
The steam is never cut off. The electricity is never shut down. It never stops. Each little old new workman comes in, picks up where his predecessor has been working, and carries right on without a moment’s hesitation. The thing is an amazing thing. You have a new brain, but you never are conscious of any change. You have new lungs, but you never lose a breath. You have a new stomach, but you never lose a meal. You have a new heart, but it never ceases to beat. All of this marvelous work is being changed, piece by piece, every moment of every day and every night, and we never realize nor are we conscious of it at all. Could you think of a factory like that where even the operator was not conscious of the changes in his factory and yet his factory’s being rebuilt from top to bottom?
But we haven’t started yet. The most amazing thing to me about these little people that inhabit by the millions, and the billions, and the trillions of this house that we call the marvelous body of the man – the most amazing thing to me is the know-how of those little people. Their knowledge is astounding. Their knowledge is like the knowledge known to God Himself. Such amazing things, such unbelievable things as these little people know and know how to do. Let’s take, for example, some of them.
Let’s take the chemists that work down there in the chemical factories and in the chemical laboratories. Never in this earth, no place in creation, will you ever find such chemists with the ingenious know-how of those chemical factories and the little people that run those establishments.
For example, the blood: what a marvelous chemical know-how that enters into the blood. In an ordinary, healthy man, there is about a gallon and-a-half of blood – from five to six to seven quarts of blood. On the inside of that blood, there are at least thirty trillion red cells called corpuscles – billions and trillions of them. They die, they are injured, they are destroyed at the rate of about 72 million a minute. So they have to be replaced. They have to be remade. They have to be remade at the rate of 72 million a minute.
Now, how is it that you make a red corpuscle? On the inside of that little cell – it doesn’t have a nucleus, just a little, tiny bit of creative matter – on the inside of that little red corpuscle, is a scarlet red substance called hemoglobin. It’s a protein. It has a vast affinity for oxygen. When it comes to the lungs, it grabs all the oxygen that it can possibly carry – four times as much as itself – and then takes it down to all those living cells. You have to have it to breathe, to live.
Now, that little protein hemoglobin. Did you ever try to make a piece of hemoglobin? I want you to look at the miraculous chemical know-how of these little factories that manufacture, that make, that create hemoglobin. Look here. All of you school children know this that water, a molecule of water, is made of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen – H2O. That’s water. All of you school children know that carbon dioxide would be made of one atom of carbon and two atoms of oxygen. Now glucose, which is the simplest sugar: one molecule of glucose would be made out of six atoms of carbon, twelve atoms of hydrogen, and six atoms of oxygen – C6H12O6.
Now some fats, one molecule of some fats would be eighteen atoms of carbon, thirty-six atoms of hydrogen, [two] atoms of oxygen – C18H36O2. Now, one molecule of hemoglobin, that scarlet red protein on the inside of that little cell – and there are 300 million molecules of this chemical on the inside of that little cell. Listen: one molecule of hemoglobin is C758H1203N195S3Fe1O218 which means one little molecule of this scarlet red hemoglobin has in it 758 atoms of carbon, 1,203 atoms of hydrogen, 195 atoms of nitrogen, three atoms of sulphur, one atom of iron, and 218 atoms of oxygen, making a total of, in each molecule of hemoglobin, 2,378 atoms.
Now, they have to be made just like that, meticulously and exactly. If you don’t, it’s something else. And there are three hundred of those molecules on the inside of each one of those little red cells. Now, they make those little red cells 72 million a minute. Can you imagine the job of the chemist down there that has to count out 758 atoms of carbon, 1,203 atoms of hydrogen, 195 atoms of nitrogen, 3 atoms of sulfur, 1 atom of iron, 218 atoms of hydrogen – count them out 300 million to the cell, 72 million cells to the minute? And yet, they do it just like that all the time. Where is the chemist that can do that? Tell them we’re out here. Let’s see you volunteer. Yet those little factories do that day and night, silently, unobtrusively, skillfully, and you never realize it: their knowledge of chemistry.
Where are the little factories? Just like you put a bank vault way down in the foundations of a building, so the all-wise Architect and Designer and Engineer put those little mint factories way down in the most-protected parts of the human frame, deep down on the inside of the marrow of the bone. There you will find those little mint factories coining out those little cells, putting together those atomic numbers in the right proportion, and manufacturing them out by the millions and the billions every minute. What an amazing process what God hath done.
But we haven’t started. We haven’t started. The marvelous mystery of this thing God has created, we haven’t started. A mind, a man, a chemist can pretty well figure out what’s in hemoglobin. But listen here, those little chemical factories in this body have knowledge to construct things that no human mind in this earth can enter into – so delicate, so intricate, so recondite, so deep, so unfathomable that nobody knows what they are or how they’re made.
For example, does anybody know what an enzyme is and how it’s made and how it’s constructed? An enzyme is a little ol’ organic piece of matter that can change other things, but it itself is not changed – like it can take starch and change it into sugar. Now, you got enzymes all over your body. On the inside of your stomach, you have little enzymes named pepsin and renin, for example. What are those little enzymes, and how are they constructed? And how are they manufactured, and what is their component parts? And what’s on the inside of them? It is known but to God Himself – that is, to God and the cells in your stomach. They know how to do it. They know all about it. Isn’t that strange their know how, and we can’t even enter into it? But listen. That’s not anything. That’s not anything: the marvelous, creative know-how of those little people that live on the inside of you.
I do not know of anything that is more amazing than the creations of the ductless glands, the endocrine glands. They secrete hormones and chlorones. Now, a ductless gland – you have two kinds of glands in your body. You have a duct gland that will pour out its secretions through a pipe in a designated place in your body like the pancreas and gall bladder, and, you know – duct glands.
But there are in your body little, marvelous, wonderful pieces of tissue. They are the most amazing pieces of tissue in this earth. You have in your body little marvelous pieces of tissue that secrete chemicals, and they don’t pour them out into ducts that feed into one certain place in your body like the little intestine. But they secrete marvelous, little chemical things that are poured immediately into the bloodstream, and the bloodstream will carry them wherever they’re supposed to be carried. And they’re little messengers, and they carry messages, and they tell the different parts of the body what to do.
The activity of your body is regulated by two means. One, by the nervous system – those little cables and wires of communication that go all over your body from the brain and from the spinal column. That’s one way your body activity is coordinated. The other way your body activity is coordinated is through these messenger boys that are secreted by these endocrine glands. I say it’s the most marvelous tissue and the most miraculous in all of this world.
Did you know, until very recently, the evolutionists looked at those endocrine glands – suprarenal, on top of the kidney; the thyroid, here in the neck; the pituitary at the base of your brain; and others. The evolutionists looked on those glands, and they said, "Why, they’re just vestigial remnants. They were useful back there in the day when man was a beast, but now that he’s evolved upward, they’re useless. And these are just the remnants of those useless organs that he once had to have."
They didn’t know why the beast had to have them. They didn’t know what function they served back there. But that’s typical of the evolutionist’s reasoning. He didn’t see any reason for these glands, and so he said they’re vestigial. They were useful back there to the beast, but to the man today, they’re not useful at all. That’s typical of the evolutionist’s reason.
And it’s also typical of what happens to him when finally you know the facts, when finally you know the truth. They are in no wise vestigial remnants, but the most important tissues in your body are the endocrine glands. And we’re just beginning to find that out. Vestigial nothing! They were there by the marvelous, creative hand of God Himself, and I say they’re some of the most important tissues in your body.
For example, the adrenal glands – the suprarenal glands above your kidneys. They’re sometimes called – those hormones are some time that they produce, the little chemical things they produce – they’re called the glands of fight and flight and fight. They’re for the preserving of your life. If something scares you to death and you gotta jump – remember that story you told about the cat and the mouse? But he did. You know those things.
Why, that adrenal gland will send a little hormone down there, a little messenger down there to the liver, and the liver will immediately turn loose glycogen that instantly is turned into glucose, into blood sugar, and your muscles are ready to work. And then, that adrenal gland will send a little adrenalin, a hormone messenger, to all of the little blood vessels of your body and they constrict, and you have high blood pressure, and you’re ready to go and to jump. And then that little adrenal gland will send a hormone messenger to the heart, and the heart muscle is toned up, and it’s ready to do twice as much work. And that adrenal gland will manufacture a little hormone messenger and put it in the bloodstream, goes up there to the pupil of the eye, and it’s dilated and you can see. And looking around, and I say get ready to fight or for flight or in fright.
The marvel of the manufacture of that little chemical of that suprarenal gland: who teaches it how to do that? Who teaches it? Listen. That’s not anything. Man, if you had the temperament of your life from the little hormones of the thyroid and the growth of your life from the pituitary – isn’t that an amazing, marvelous thing? The marvelous mystery of the man: we haven’t started. I been talking about forty-five minutes; we haven’t started.
This morning, I thought I’d talk about the marvelous mystery of moving your finger, or wiggling your toe, or moving your hand. Nobody in this earth understands how a muscle is made or how it moves. Physiologists have already discovered fifteen chemical reactions in how a muscle contracts. One little old enzyme will take what the other has done and work on that. And then another enzyme will come and take that product and change that. And finally, energy is liberated. How? Nobody knows. And yet an athlete can jump his height and a steel violinist and a fine pianist can just use their fingers and arms almost automatically. But the reactions, the chemical, the physiological reaction of just moving a muscle is beyond any man’s reasoning. Oh, we haven’t begun yet!
Oh, that I could take time to speak of the mystery of the mind and the mystery of memory and the mystery of the human soul: the cerebrum – the cerebrum, the two great hemispheres that fill almost the whole cranial vault; the cerebellum, the little brain at the bottom; the medulla oblongata, the broad spreading of the spine at the base of the brain; the pons Varolii, the bridge of Varolius, where all of the other three are intricately tied in together like a vast telephone exchange. You probe them, follow their dendrites and the axons of every nerve of which they are made – you won’t find me, my memory. How can I take those things and from childhood still they are there and the personality and the spirit and the soul?
And what happens when I die – when the silver cord is loosed and the golden bow is broken; when the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel has broken at the cistern; when the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit under God who gave it?
Oh, the marvelous mystery of the man! We can but bow our heads and humble our hearts in the presence of the great Designer and Creator and Architect who made us and fashioned us in His own likeness and in His own image. Amen.
Now, in the little brief moment that we have while we sing this song, somebody to give his heart to the Lord, somebody to come into the fellowship of this church, while we sing the song, would you come and stand by me while all of us sing the hymn prayerfully together?