Pastors Report - 03 May 2019
Miracle Of Birth

"The Miracle of Birth..."

"Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them" (Psalm 139:16 NKJV).

For a moment, imagine King David as a young boy, out on the hills of Judea in early spring, looking after his father's sheep. At that time of year the chances are he would have been present when the ewes were giving birth, and maybe having to assist bringing that new life into the world on occasion. Don't you think that he'd just stand back at other times, watching the utter miracle of birth taking place - in absolute awe of what he was witnessing? I know I have.

Wonderfully Made:

The God who designed that process within sheep also designed the human gestation and birth as well. This undoubtedly led David at a later date, to pen the following reflection on his own growth within and birth from his mother's womb :

  • If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me," Even the night shall be light about me;
  • Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
  • For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb.
  • I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
  • My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
  • Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:11-16 NKJV)

The process of gestation and birth is astounding. I remember one of our grandchildren, around age 6 and after having the facts of life explained to him, saying to his parents "that's just amazing! You mean to say you can actually decide to create another human being?" And when put like that, yes, it is indeed an incredible thing.

Knowledge Today:

But at the time David contemplated the process of birth and gestation within the womb, prior to writing, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" I wonder how much of the process he grasped? Without microscopes it is doubtful if the sperm and ovum were understood. And it is almost certain that nothing at all was comprehended of the information stored within the DNA of every cell, until we come to the knowledge and communication explosion prophesied in Daniel: "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." (Daniel 12:4)

And here we are - right at the time of the end - and as we approach the grand climax of this information and communication-rich age the irony is that we also live in a world that is moving further and further away from the Creator God - even though we are at the same time discovering more and more about the astounding engineering, information control, manufacturing processes and robotics that same God designed at a microscopic level within every living creature. And that is particularly the case with something I discovered concerning the awesome process that takes place within the womb.

The Embryo:

We now know that at the heart of every cell of every living thing is the DNA molecule. Yes, most viruses don't have DNA - but there is a debate as to whether they are really alive, as by definition viruses must use a host's DNA-formed cell structures in which to reproduce. But for every other living thing - including humans certainly - the tiny coiled DNA molecule can indeed be described as "in Your book [in which] they were all written, The days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them." (Psalms 139:16)

From the information stored within the rungs of that minute double helix library, the specification of every protein-structure within the developing baby is read. The range is astounding: the clear cells of our eyes, microscopic hairs in our ears, the hard cells of our bones, the complex tubes within our kidneys, chemical factories of our glands, villi within our gut and lungs - all formed when the cell concerned reads the correct segment of the DNA that defines what amino acids to use and in what order in this particular place. That sequence is so precise that the resulting protein can then be folded in such a way that bonds positioned along its length snap together like velcro to create the exact three-dimensional structure required. But a major question is , how does the cell know where it is? What is it that gives the creature being formed the overall three-dimensional blueprint? What tells this particular cell that in this particular position it needs to become part of an eye? Or a finger? Or liver ... or lung?

Bio-electrical Fields:

Until quite recently it was assumed that such positioning information was also provided by the DNA somehow. And even now, there are those who still feel such information comes from the DNA. But an experiment with tadpoles appears to indicate that a major source of the overall three-dimensional blueprint of a developing foetus is actually coming from a self-generated electrical field within the foetus itself.

That we are "electrical beings" is very easily demonstrated - and you don't need a heart monitor or complicated piece of equipment to see this aspect of being fearfully and wonderfully made. Taking a standard multimeter set on millivolts, simply grip the two terminals in opposite hands. The voltage being generated by the human body itself will then appear on the display, fluctuating slightly from time to time. This voltage is not only coming from your nerve cells, but every other cell within your body as well, as they all generate a slight charge. At rest, that charge is negative - which is probably why fountains and waterfalls, that generate negative ions, "feel" so restful to us. But the source of that charge is both from an ion pump within the membrane around each cell as well as another vital chemical found in every single cell called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Chemical Battery:

ATP is an enzyme - a biological catalyst that assists other reactions in the cell without being "used up" itself. It is crucially important because it also acts as every cell's chemical battery or power source. In this role, it will charge and discharge as much as 1,500 times every day. For example, ATP takes the power that is generated when sugars in the blood are "burnt" using oxygen from our lungs, and transfers that power into the cell itself. If that was a muscle cell, like the ones moving your eyeball as you read these words, then once charged, ATP discharges its stored power to allow the cell to shorten the muscle fibres - allowing the muscle fibre to contract. This process is going on right now in all 10 trillion cells in your body - and even within all 100 trillion bacteria within you!

But this electrical activity within the cell membranes and ATP in each cell of the developing foetus has another utterly vital role. Biologists from Tufts University Massachusetts USA discovered a pattern of bioelectric signals in frog embryos that plays a role in face development. When they manipulated those signals artificially, the affected embryos produced eyes outside their head regions. "Our research shows that the electrical state of a cell is fundamental to development. Bioelectrical signaling appears to regulate a sequence of events, not just one," said Laura Vandenberg, lead author on the paper. "Developmental biologists are used to thinking of sequences in which a gene produces a protein product that in turn ultimately leads to development of an eye or a mouth. But our work suggests that something else -- a bioelectrical signal -- is required before that can happen." If you would like to read more about these findings, and the difficult questions they raise for those believing in atheistic evolution, you can do so in this page from evolutionnews.org that gives an overview, and this page that goes into more detail.

Awe-inspiring Video:

There is also an awe-inspiring Youtube clip that I urge as many of you as possible to see. It is a TED lecture given by Alexander Tsiaras - a mathematics professor from Yale University who, among other things, received funding from NASA to write the computer algorithms for virtual surgery, the ultimate aim being to give astronauts access to surgical operations via robotic pods during deep space flights. As part of his work Tsiaras also participated in developing scientific visualization software to enable him to "paint" the human anatomy of the foetus during work associated with a micro MRI scanner. The Youtube clip I mention comes from part of that work. And as he says within it:

" ...it was hard not to attribute divinity to [such perfectly organised construction] - because we kept on seeing this over and over and over again in different parts of the body ... The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go. The complexity of these mathematical models - of how these things are indeed done - is beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician, I look at this with a marvel of: How do these instruction sets not make these mistakes as they build what is us? It's a mystery; it's magic; it's divinity... "

Such an impossibly miraculous beginning for each one of us has undoubtedly been placed there by God for a reason. Being aware of it should help us all to be able to put what we go through in this life into its true perspective. For we are very much part of an ongoing creation ... both collectively, but just as important, individually. The God we worship knew us as we were being formed and transformed - converted - in the womb originally. And it's the same God who - right now - upholds the limitless universe and the smallest electron via the same Word of His power via Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:3).

The Same Creator:

You may wonder why I have spent so long on the physical details of the creative process, astounding as it is? You see, there is far, far more going on than just getting to grips with basic biology! The main thrust of the subject and what I would like to concentrate on is a much more profound aspect that I seriously doubt many, if any, have thought of, even in the Intelligent Design world outside God's Church. Let's first remind ourselves how Psalm 139 begins:

  • For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
  • You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.
  • You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.
  • For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
  • You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.
  • Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.
  • Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
  • If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
  • If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
  • Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:1-10 NKJV)

The subject matter of Psalm 139 in which David remarks that he is fearfully and wonderfully made is not primarily the physical creation by any means. He points out in the first few verses how God knows him intimately - including every word on his tongue (v4). God does this through His Spirit (v7), which will always be there wherever David may be. It is in this context that he expresses how this same process was even in effect when he was within his mother's womb.

Precious Thoughts:

He then ends with the following words:

  • Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
  • How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!
  • If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.
  • Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God! Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
  • For they speak against You wickedly; Your enemies take Your name in vain.
  • Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
  • I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.
  • Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;
  • And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:16-24 NKJV)

It may seem out of place - how the subject matter appears to change from verse 19 on, but in no way! Note how verse 17 ties what David is about to cover back to the way the Creator God formed us in our mother's womb. It is not the physical conception and birth that the overall psalm is dealing with. It is the current creation taking place; the development of God's Mind, His thoughts, His character - at that time being created within David, and ultimately in all mankind - if they are willing. The current world-wide acceptance of the theory of evolution not only does away with a Creator initially, but also with this overarching part of His Plan, and that is the thrust that Satan is more concerned with.

Stark Contrast:

And because the frame of mind found in the world outside is so far away from this Mind of God, so he contrasts it in verses 19-21. Finally David ends by showing it is vital that God uses His all-present Spirit to check our thinking to see if there be any wicked way in me, to be sure the direction of what is being right now created is indeed in the way everlasting and not in the way of this world. As brought out in an earlier psalm, David knew the overall purpose of his life and where he was heading: "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness." (Psalm 17:15)

The processes God designed that created us physically in our mother's womb were truly awesome. To have the foetus generate its own bio-electrical field in which a library of instructions in the DNA can then be automatically carried out, building block by building block, until a baby is born after 9 months is utterly astounding. But an even more astounding aspect of our life is in progress - clearly alluded to within the Psalm - that we are now once again being fearfully and wonderfully made ... as Spirit-begotten Sons ... by the very same Creator God ... always present, always active ... in every twist and turn of our life.

  • If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands. (Job 14:14-15)
  • Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philipians 1:6)

The days of Unleavened Bread that we have just been observing can at times be disconcerting for us when we discover shortcomings and problems that perhaps we didn't know we had or thought we'd already overcome. But that's very much part of the overall Plan - this is a time of growth, our spiritual creation, and we can have total confidence in the God who parted the Red Sea and wiped out our enemies all those thousands of years ago, and who also tells us now, as our own individual Master Potter:

  • All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
  • For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
  • And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
  • And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:37-40)