Restoring the Temple – The Cell

“[God] who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” 11 Timothy 1:9.

Before the world began, God knew us. He not only knew every cell, every tissue, and every synapse but every thought, every action, and our very purpose. A worldly, myopic view asks “What is the meaning of life?” Jesus, our Savior and Creator, has given us the meaning: He is the meaning. As we continue our study of God’s creation, let us learn of His works and learn a little more about Him.

A proper tutorial of the human body systems cannot begin without a discussion of the cell. The level of organization is thus: cells, tissues, organs, systems. The cell—which in itself is of a marvelous and awe-inspiring design—was first described by Robert Hooke, an English Scientist, in 1665. Somewhat later, other scientists began to develop the cell theory, which states that cells are the fundamental units, or building blocks of all plant and animal tissues. As mentioned in the previous article, our bodies contain trillions of cells, and any given activity, such as typing text on a computer or reading, requires the combined and coordinated responses of millions, even billions of cells. A thorough study of the cell would take up a large text, but a brief overview should be enough to show the wonder of one of God’s smaller creations.

Just as the body has anatomy, so it is with the cell. The cell’s “skin” is called the cellular membrane. Inside the cell are tiny organs floating in a gelatinous fluid called cytoplasm. These microscopic organs are called organelles. Like our body systems, the organelles work both separately and exquisitely in tandem. Remember the term homeostasis? Part of the cell theory states that not only does the body maintain homeostasis (the balance of the internal environment) at the tissue, organ, system, and organism level, but also at the cellular level. In other words, not only does the cell work in beautiful balance with other cells but also maintains its own. Cells are not static but are in constant complex activity. Let’s do a brief overview of the cell’s parts.

The cellular membrane does much more than keep the organelles together. It performs many tasks critical to the function of the cell.
A couple of these functions include regulating everything that enters and exits the cell; in multicellular organisms it allows self-recognition, so the body can tell the difference between its own cells and a foreign invader. The membrane is made up of fats and proteins.

One of the largest organelles is the endoplasmic reticulum or ER. It is a series of transparent membranes that look like a ribbon and loop back and forth inside the cell. There are two kinds of ER: smooth ER and rough ER. The rough ER looks bumpy because it has ribosomes sticking to it, and they help make protein. The smooth ER does not have any ribosomes and acts like a pathway inside the cell. Its main task is to produce lipids (fats).

The Golgi body, a network of thread-like structures and small sacs (vesicles) in the cytoplasm of nerve cells, was named after the scientist who discovered it: Camillo Golgi (1844–1926). After being manufactured by the ER, tiny proteins go to the Golgi body where they are packaged. In the Golgi body, the proteins enter little sacks called cisternae and are then pinched off into neat little packages called lysosomes, which drift off into the cytoplasm. The proteins contained by the lysosomes are powerful digestive enzymes and in certain circumstances the lysosome will self-destruct, breaking open and destroying harmful bacteria and other foreign bodies. Not only do these released enzymes protect the cell by destroying bacteria but they also cause self-destruction of the entire cell, which is how the body gets rid of old or damaged cells. Think of lysosomes as the clean-up crew of the cell.

Although it sounds like it might be haphazard, lysosomes work in a highly controlled manner, doing only that which benefits the cell or the body. Another example of their work is evident in your fingers. When the human hand first forms in the tiny embryo, the fingers are all joined together. It is the work of the lysosomes to break down the webbing, forming individual fingers.

Another type of organelles is called mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell. Here is where cellular respiration takes place, which is the process by which the cell takes the oxygen you breathe in and glucose from the food you eat and converts it to energy. Mitochondria are also particularly interesting because they are the only organelle that contains its own DNA. You inherit your mitochondria from your mother only, so that is one way inheritance can be tested. You got your mitochondria from your mother, hers from her mother, and so on, all the way back to Eve. This is how the remains of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra of Russia were authenticated. Their mitochondrial DNA was matched with a known living maternal relative, Prince Phillip (the spouse of the current Queen of England, Elizabeth II). Mitochondria are very interesting, but we must move on.

The nucleus is the headquarters of the cell. Not all cells have a nucleus. Red blood cells, for example, lose their nucleus early in their life span before entering circulation. The nucleus contains the genetic material—DNA—and controls all the activities of the cell by coordinating protein synthesis. Inside the nucleus is thick, ropy material, which is called chromatin. This is simply strands of DNA packed tightly, but neatly, around histone proteins. There is a smaller round object called the nucleolus inside, and it is a ball of packed chromatin. It manufactures ribosomes. The newly made ribosomes then leave the nucleus. Ribosomes are present in great numbers in the cell and most of them are attached to rough ER. These little organelles contain RNA (another form of genetic material, copied from DNA) and help manufacture proteins when the cells need them.

What is DNA? Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the blueprint for life. Everything about you from your eye color to how your liver works is coded for and controlled by DNA. American biochemist James Watson and British biochemist Frances Crick discovered, in 1953, that DNA was made of base molecules linked together to form a twisted ladder, called the double helix. It takes two base molecules to make a base-pair, which is what makes up each rung of the ladder. Each human cell has approximately three feet of DNA inside, all coiled up. This astoundingly complex molecule is a very obvious example of supernatural design. When a new strand of DNA is made, or synthesized, it is done with perfection. It is so perfect that an average of only one error per billion base-pairs occurs during duplication. “In the visible creation, divine wisdom is manifested in an endless variety of processes.” This Day With God, 67. Evolution? I think not.

“The work of creation cannot be explained by science. What science can explain the mystery of life?” The Ministry of Healing, 414. God’s own hands made us. In His mind, at the moment of our creation, was the purpose of our being. “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me.” Psalm 119:73.