Restoring the Temple – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

When a friend suggested I do a series on the systems of the body, I was delighted with the idea, since biology is one of my favorite subjects. The articles in this series will cover each of the 11 systems of the body. My goal is to present the information in a way that can be easily understood. Obviously, there is no way to thoroughly explore a system in the space of two pages; a room of books could be devoted to a system and not repeat itself. I will, however, do my best to outline the basic anatomy and physiology of each system, in a way that glorifies the Designer.

What are organ systems? Cells that are alike group together and form tissues; tissues unite to form organs; organs work together to form systems. (See Table 1.) The systems function interdependently. For example, the circulatory system cannot perform its job of moving blood, nutrients, and waste through the blood vessels, without the nervous system, which sends signals to the heart to pump. The reproductive system cannot produce a baby without the endocrine system’s hormones signaling when and where and how fast to grow that new life. How could the bones move without muscles? How could the muscles move without bones?

Need more help to understand what anatomy and physiology are? Think of two scientists, one an anatomist and the other a physiologist. They are asked to examine a truck. The anatomist starts measuring and photographing each part of the truck: the chassis, the catalytic converter, the screw holding the cup holder in place. The physiologist is somewhat interested in these parts as well, but only as they relate to the function of the truck. What the physiologist does, is measure the torque applied to the wheels, how energy is transformed to movement from the spark to the moving piston, and so forth.

How does all this fit in a column labeled “Restoring the Temple”? Ellen White, an enlightened individual in a relatively unenlightened era, understood the relationship between hygiene—or health—and God’s creature: “It is well that physiology is introduced into the common schools as a branch of education. All children should study it. It should be regarded as the basis of all educational effort. And then parents should see to it that practical hygiene be added. This will make their knowledge of physiology of practical benefit. Parents should teach their children by example that health is to be regarded as the chiefest earthly blessing. They cannot do this while the love of money and of display is made of greater consequence than the health of their children.” The Health Reformer, November 1, 1871.

“The study of anatomy, the form and structure of the body; of physiology, the use and functions of the various organs; and of hygiene, the laws that underlie their healthful activities, is pursued from a Biblical and scientific point of view.” Review and Herald, October 11, 1898.

When I took the Cell Biology class in college, I was saddened when my instructor said that although she personally believed in creation she was required by the school to teach evolution. I remember my dad telling me, before I entered college, to be careful because evolution would be taught. It is a credit to my Christian upbringing that my dad need not have worried! Not only did I not fall prey to the fallacy of Darwinism, but the more I studied science, the more I believed in creation. How could this wondrous, fabulously complex organism they called Homo sapien, be an accident of nature? It became clear to me that a Master Designer is directly involved with not only creating the life but second-by-second maintenance of each one of our bodies. Does not the Bible say that He sustains our every breath? (See Job 12:10; Matthew 10:30.)

Consider homeostasis. Homeostasis is the word scientists use to mean that the body maintains itself in equilibrium. What does that mean? God made your body to know how to keep warm but not too warm; to maintain a blood pH that is slightly alkaline, not slightly acidic; to make sure you have enough fluid to keep things running properly, but not so much that you could literally drown; to make sure your cells have enough energy in the form of glucose to keep you alive, but not so much to kill you; to make sure you have enough potassium to maintain nerve function and muscle control, but not so much that it stops your heart, and so on, ad infinitum. Isn’t it beautiful?

Consider the building block of the body: the cell. There are 50–75 trillion cells in the body, and each second 6 trillion functions take place in each of them. (See The New York Public Library Science Desk Reference, Macmillan, New York, NY, 1995, 151.) There are cells so tiny that a million can fit in the period at the end of this sentence. The largest are about the size of that period. Cells have various life spans. The cells of the colon and stomach live only 4–5 days; red blood cells live about 125 days; brains cells last your lifetime. (See Ibid.)

So are we merely a product of evolution? Do we share the same ancestor as the slug and the goat and the dandelion? I think not! So eloquently and simply, Mrs. White put it: “Akin to the theory concerning the evolution of the earth is that which attributes to an ascending line of germs, mollusks, and quadrupeds the evolution of man, the crowning glory of the creation. . . . Shall we, for the privilege of tracing our descent from germs and mollusks and apes, consent to cast away that statement of Holy Writ, so grand in its simplicity, ‘God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him’? Genesis 1:27. Shall we reject that genealogical record,—prouder than any treasured in the courts of kings,—‘which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God’? Luke 3:38.” Education, 130.

It is a mystery! We cannot understand how God spoke, and it was so. It is “so grand in its simplicity.” We truly are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and perhaps in understanding a miniscule portion of the created, it will provide us with a greater respect for the Creator.