The Marvelous Mystery of Man
March 2nd, 1988 @ 7:30 PM
THE MARVELOUS MYSTERY OF MAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-2-88 7:30 p.m.
We welcome you, once again, who share this hour on radio. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and I am the pastor delivering a message that is filled with the wonder of God. In the Book of Genesis, in the story of God’s unbelievably overwhelming creation, God says in the first chapter, verse 26, “Let Us,” plural. Isn’t that amazing? “Let Us.” God is Three in One. “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness . . . So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him” [Genesis 1: 26-27]. Then in the wonder of the Lord, God took the man and “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” [Genesis 2:7].
The wonder of God’s creation: His workmanship in the beginning is recounted here in this Holy Word, and is presented to us as the man and the woman were placed in the garden of Eden [Genesis 2:8]. But the greater wonder we see every day. As marvelous as that creation was, we live with a more marvelous wonder every breath of our life. It is found in a man’s body, this house in which God has given us to live. A star is a glorious creation. A continent is a marvelous workmanship of a master. An ocean is an incomparably beautiful and wonderful thing. But nothing that God has created is so infinitely glorious as the house that God has given you to live in. And it is a miracle and a marvel that we observe every day, and we live in every moment.
For example, in the one hundred thirty-ninth Psalm, the psalmist is overwhelmed as he thinks of the marvel of his body and how he came to be. In the one hundred thirty-ninth Psalm, beginning at verse 13:
For Thou hast possessed my inward parts: Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
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—
speaking of the presence of God in the formation of the human soul and life in the mother’s womb.
Now we’re going to look at this unbelievable miracle that is you, the marvelous mystery of our human body. A man’s body, a woman’s body, is a vast city. And it has ten times thirty trillion inhabitants. Ten hundred thousand is a million. Ten hundred million is a billion. Ten hundred billion is a trillion. And there are ten times thirty trillion inhabitants in your body. So tiny are these little citizens that a speck of blood, of your blood on a pinhead, has five million of them. They’re all busy, every one of them, all ten times thirty trillion of them. All trillions of them are busy operating the infinitely intricate machinery of your body.
We speak first of the cell. These living units, called the cell, form the marvelous, created workmanship of God. Each cell is filled with a most remarkable substance that we call protoplasm. And all of the cell structures are covered with a binding that we call a membrane. It is pervious to some substances that can enter them; it is impervious to others that are denied entrance. And each cell contains within the membrane a miraculous substance called cytoplasm. And in the cytoplasm are infinitely small spaces filled with molecules of fluid, of proteins, of salt, and of sugar. Each cell contains in the cytoplasm a tiny sphere called the nucleus which is the center of life. Inside the nucleus are small chromatin granules. In the process of mitosis, of cell division, those chromatin granules gather together into rods called chromosomes.
And each member of every distinct species that God has created has the same number of these unbreakable, distinguishing chromosomes, and on the chromosomes, a distinguishing number of genes. For example, Drosophila, the fruit fly, has four chromosomes. And on each one of those chromosomes, there are twelve to fourteen thousand genes. A man, you, a man has forty-six chromosomes in every one of those nuclei. And all and every one of the billions and billions of cells in your body, every one of them, has the same number of chromosomes, forty-six. That makes you a man and not a fruit fly, or not a lizard, or not an ape, or not an ant. Those chromosomes make you, you.
Now in reproduction, there is an unbelievable mystery. Every cell that is in your body has forty-six chromosomes; all except in the reproductive organs, in a spermatozoon and in an ovum. In a woman, there are two different cells, two different chromosomes in that reproductive cell. There is an X and an X in a woman, and there is an X and a Y in a man. And when the cell of reproduction is created, those chromosomes are divided in half. Every other cell in your body has forty-six chromosomes, except that reproductive cell in the spermatozoon and in that ovum.
And in those reproductive cells, they’re divided in half. In a man, there are twenty-[three]. In a woman, there are twenty-[three]. There are twenty-[three] in each one. There are twenty-three in each one. There are twenty-three in the man, in the spermatozoon; there are twenty-three in the woman, in the ovum. Twenty-three from the woman, twenty-three from the man. And in a woman, those two different chromosomes are labeled XX. In a man, those two different chromosomes are labeled XY. And when they come together, the twenty-[three] chromosomes from the man, in the spermatozoon, and the twenty-[three] chromosomes from the woman in the ovum, you have your forty-six chromosomes again.
And the difference of those little X chromosomes is this: if the woman, who always has a X chromosome is matched from a man who has an X chromosome, you’re going to have a girl. The baby will be female. But the man has an X and a Y chromosome in those twenty-three. And when the ovum is fertilized by the spermatozoon, the twenty-three from the woman and the twenty-three from the man, if it is an X from the man, like the X from the woman, you’re going to have a girl. But if the chromosome from the man is a Y, you’re going to have a boy. And that’s the mystery of how God began our lives; forty-six chromosomes, twenty-three from the mother, twenty-three from the father and forty-[six] of them again.
Now in building a body, those chromosomes, those genes, those infinitesimally small little units, do their work without teaching or training, and they begin their long and eventful journey building a marvelous body. In the first few weeks, there is a pumping engineer that begins to construct a simple one-chambered heart. And that little one-chambered heart begins to pump. It begins to pump fluid. That’s in the first few weeks when those twenty-three chromosomes from the man and the twenty-three from the woman are joined together in those forty-six.
Then immediately there begins to move, and in the first few weeks there is created a little one-chambered heart that begins to beat. And it will beat all the rest of your life. It never stops. Then in those same first weeks, there are little plumbers who begin laying all kinds of pipelines. Then in about two months, out of nowhere appear bone builders, laying down structures in the same way that a man builds a skyscraper. Then appear the tooth carpenters out of nowhere. And by three months, everyone is on the job; everyone. There are bone builders, there are plumbers, there are electricians, there are cable layers, they are are making nervous systems, there are power machines set up that create muscles, there are photographic departments that are doing their work in building an eye, there are auditory departments building your hearing. It is an amazing thing what happens within the first few weeks when those forty-six chromosomes get together; twenty-three from one, twenty-three from the other.
I read a poem called “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 crossed the bridge of his nose?
Can he use when shingling the roof of his mouth
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?
And if so, why not grow corn on the ear?
[“A Few Questions,” in The American Flint, vol 13 No 4, Feb 1922, p.21]
As amazing and as astounding as the mystery of the creation of the human body, no less marvelous is the mystery of growth. What makes a child grow? What tells him where to stop? Why don’t his arms grow to be ten feet long, and why don’t his leg grow to be fifty feet long, and why doesn’t his head grow to be fifty times as big as it is? What tells his arm to stop growing and his leg to start growing and his head to stop growing? And even more marvelous, every day and every minute, the entire body is being miraculously rebuilt; every second of your living life.
The bones, piece by piece, are being remade like timbers taken out of a great railroad bridge and replaced. The eye is constantly being remade, infinitesimally piece by piece. The brain is being remade, every day of your life, piece by piece. The blood is being rebuilt. Every one of us has about one and one-half gallons of blood, and there are thirty trillion red blood cells called corpuscles that die or are destroyed at the rate of seventy-two million a minute. You have to be remade and these have to be remade and replaced at the rate of seventy-two million a minute. Every minute, there are seventy-two million red blood cells in your bloodstream that are dying, that have to be remade.
The mystery of the use and movement of the body is inexplicable. For example, a muscle, no one knows how it is made or how it functions. We have already identified more than fifteen chemical reactions in the moving of a muscle. How is it that I move that finger, or move this hand, or move this arm, or move my body? It is a mystery. In the movement of a muscle, one enzyme will immediately be followed by the work where the other left off. And not only the mystery of your muscle and how it is moved, but the mystery of the mind, of memory, of soul. We cannot begin to enter into the unfathomable, impenetrable mystery of how these things do.
Let’s look at the chemical factories in our bodies. How is a red corpuscle made? We just got through saying that there are seventy-two million of them made every minute. How is a red corpuscle made? On the inside of that cell is a red substance called hemoglobin. And it has a vast capacity to absorb oxygen, and it absorbs oxygen when you breathe in the lungs, and then it is carried in the bloodstream to all the other cells in your body. No cell in your body can live without oxygen. And that hemoglobin, that hemoglobin absorbs it in the lungs and carries it to all the cells in the body.
No you look at that hemoglobin. One molecule of hemoglobin has 758 atoms of carbon. It has 1,203 atoms of hydrogen. It has 109 atoms of nitrogen. It has 3 atoms of sulfur. It has 1 atom of iron. It has 218 atoms of oxygen. In that one cell of hemoglobin, there are 2,378 atoms. Now each molecule of hemoglobin has to possess exactly that number. If it doesn’t, it is something else. It’s another substance. It has to have 2,378 atoms exactly. And these red cells, with each one having in it 2,378 atoms, are made at the rate of 72 million a minute. You’re doing that right now. Since I’ve been up here, there are billions of red cells that have been made in my body; each one of them with 2,378 atoms, according to that formula.
Where are these little factories? They are put way down in the most protected place in your body. They are deep on the inside of the marrow of your bones. That’s where those little chemical factories remake those red hemoglobin blood cells.
I watched the Republic Bank down here being built. And they went down in the solid rock, just beneath the surface here, this part of the city of Dallas; just right beneath it is rock. And they blasted that rock out and down there, deep in that rock, they built those vaults, where they put all of your money, if you’ve got any down there, down there deep. That’s exactly what God did in these little chemical factories. He put them deep on the inside of your bones, in the blood marrow.
Now we know somewhat—and I’d just gone through it—we know somewhat about hemoglobin, but there are other little chemical factories that have knowledge to construct things so delicate, so intricate, so deep, so unfathomable, that we do not even begin to know how they are made or how they are able to work.
For example, there are in your body ductless glands, called endocrine glands. And they made enzymes. And those enzymes can change things but they’re not changed themselves. For example, those little enzymes can change starch into sugar. How? We have no idea.
There are two kinds of glands in your body. There are duct glands that pour out secretions like the liver. They have ducts from the liver that pour secretions into the bloodstream. There are also ductless glands, little pieces of tissue that pour out chemicals into the bloodstream that carry messages to all parts of the body. And those little messengers are called enzymes. And they just go all through our body, doing things in our anatomical frame.
The activity of the body is regulated by two means. One: by the nervous system; little cables of wires that go all through our bodies. And the other are these enzymes that are manufactured by the endocrine glands.
Let me give you an example of just one of those ductless glands: the adrenal gland above the kidney. If you are—now we’re going to look at what one of those ductless glands sending out enzymes, what those tissues will do. Above the kidney is a little mass, a little bit of tissue called the adrenal glands. Now if you’re scared, the adrenal gland will send out hormone messengers to the liver; the liver turns out glycogen that is turned into glucose—blood sugar—and the muscles are ready to run or to fight. The adrenal gland will send hormone messengers to all the blood vessels that will contract and raise the blood pressure. That same adrenal gland will send messengers, hormones, to the heart that’ll beat faster and pump fuel. And it will send hormone messengers to the pupil of the eye; and it is dilated. You are frightened! And now you’re ready to run, or to fight, or to climb, or to escape, or whatever it is you need to do to protect your life. All of that is done by a ductless gland, sending out little hormones that go to all these different parts of your body that have results [as] I’ve just named.
Typical of the self-styled omniscient evolutionist—until he knew better, until we were able to identify those tissues, those ductless glands—typical of the self-styled evolutionist, until recently, here’s what he said, quote, “The endocrine glands, like the adrenal glands, the ductless glands, the endocrine glands are just vestigial remnants. They were useful in the day when man was a beast, but now, since the ape has evolved upward into a man, they are useless. They are just remnants of those useless organs we once had to have.” End quote.
The evolutionist did not know, and he did not say why the ape had to have those tissues, he just said that we inherited them from our ape ancestors, and now we don’t have to have them because those tissues are useless.
He saw no reason why they are found in modern man. He just supposed they were useful to a beast, but now, not to a man. That is typical of their reasoning.
Now we know the facts. These glands are in nowise remnants. They are not vestigial hangovers from our bestial ancestors. These glands we have learned are some of the most important tissues in the body. They were placed there by the creative hand of God, and it is just now that we have learned why God did it. But He did it back there in the beginning when He created that first man and woman [Genesis 1:27], and we are their children.
It is an almost unbelievable miracle, your creation. And that’s why, when a young father and mother come down the aisle here at the church and they bring a little baby in their arms and they dedicate this little child to the Lord, as you heard me for the years and the years that I’ve been here, you have heard me as I kneel down before the little family, I’ll usually start off, “Lord, Lord, we bow in wonder and in amazement and in praise and adoration at the creation, the omnipotent creation of this little child.” God did it. And the wonder and the miracle of that creation is beyond our understanding. It is unfathomable. It is amazing. It is overwhelming, and that’s you; you. Out of all of God’s wonderful, marvelous workmanship in the stars, in the skies, in the earth, in the mountains and in the seas, not one of them is comparable to the miracle of you; you. This moment, the miracle of your living; that’s God, the Lord in us.
Now we’re going to sing us a song. And while we sing the song, somebody to accept the Lord in all of His wonder and glory, or someone, a family to come into our dear church, or someone to answer a call of God in his life, in this moment when we sing our song, it would be a beautiful and marvelous thing if in your heart you answered the call of God in your life. So let’s stand now and we’ll sing our song. And I’ll be standing here, and if God is in it, come, and welcome, while we sing.