THE MARVEL OF OUR BIRTH
The development and birth of a baby is one of the most amazingly complex and wonderful things you can think of. The process of prenatal development and growth is better understood nowadays, but the marvel of it all is just as great as ever it was. Perhaps it is even greater as ultrasound scanning provides more and more fascinating information about the different stages of this development.1
Only almighty God, the Author and Architect of all things, could create such a marvel. Only the Author of life could design life and give it in such a way as to be sustainable and reproducible. Theories of men have absolutely nothing acceptable to explain this. Life of any kind simply could not evolve, far less any of the highly sophisticated and marvellous forms of life which fill the world we live in, far less man with all his specialised and unique features which we have been looking at earlier. We will look at one more of these features now birth, the climax to countless intricate, systematic, coordinated and synchronised events.
"Fearfully and wonderfully made"
In Psalm 139.13-16, a beautiful description is given of the process of prenatal development, highlighting these words: "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made". In language which is poetic, yet accurate (as all Scripture is), the writer David describes how God covered (protected) him while he was "made in secret" in his mother's womb, his "members were written in God's book", "being fashioned in continuance" before he was born, even his "unperfect substance" seen and overseen by God. Thinking about these words and the process they describe, let us look more closely at it from today's more privileged viewpoint. Here is another cause for us to marvel, more than David could, at the skill and wisdom of the One who made us, the all wise God of creation and providence, and praise Him too.
Birth is the outcome of nine months' hidden development from just two cells which unite into one at conception. This new unit then subdivides repeatedly, growing in a carefully programmed manner until everything is in place. Even by the end of the first month, the baby's nervous system and brain cells are there and growing, the tiny heart beating with its own blood supply in its own blood vessels. In the next month, limbs begin to develop, every organ is in place, eyes and lips appear, even fingernails and fingerprints are forming. Everything continues to develop - internally and externally, from head to foot, from eyes and ears to airways and digestive tract and much more, to make up this amazing miracle of a baby. Add to this that the whole structure is living and mobile, that even after it is born it will go on growing for a certain number of years and then the growth will stop at the appropriate time, that most of its parts can repair themselves if broken or damaged, that each cell operates so efficiently and on such a miniature scale! It's amazing how it was all formed from two microscopic cells which fused together to become one and then to become millions upon millions of different and specialised ones. In this way God creates a dwelling place for a human soul while giving life and personality to that soul.
Now by way of comparison, think of some fine modern-day dwelling house built for someone. Think of all the foundations, walls, roofing, plumbing, windows, doors, electrical and telephone connections, heating system, ventilation, all the sophisticated equipment, the furnishings and décor and everything else. Now imagine, if you can, that it was all produced from just one basic building block - one which somehow subdivided repeatedly to produce and fabricate the whole thing until it was complete and ready to live in! And all the information necessary to build everything correctly, and the ability to synthesise all the necessary and different building materials were also contained within this first building block which itself had been made from two separate but complementary halves! Impossible? Well, something like this but very much more happens in the formation of a baby. If you follow this rather crude comparison you might begin to grasp the marvel of birth and realise how truly beyond our comprehension is this amazing work of God! Remember Solomon's words? "As thou knowest not how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all" (Eccl 11.5).
During gestation, the developing baby receives all its nourishment from its mother through the placenta, an important separate structure which was formed within the first few weeks of pregnancy. The baby's blood flows into and out of the placenta where it absorbs nourishment and oxygen from the mother's blood and also gets rid of waste products. The placenta also prevents the transfer of toxins and harmful substances. It is a very efficient supplier, and filter and barrier, carefully designed for its purpose. It is connected to the developing baby by the umbilical cord until birth takes place when its function becomes redundant and it is discarded.
At birth an important change takes place in the baby's blood circulation. The unborn baby's lungs are unventilated, oxygen being supplied from the mother's blood as we have noted. There would be no purpose in the baby's blood going through its lungs, so these are by-passed while the blood circulates. The by-pass is made by a special channel connecting the two chambers of the heart and another special duct in the pulmonary artery. At birth, as the lungs inflate, these two channels close completely and permanently, and the by-pass is closed off. The normal route for the blood to circulate through the lungs from the right ventricle of the heart into the left is ready and waiting. It is just then opened up and established for a lifetime, just when it is required. Amazing design, synchronism, and efficiency! (More details in reference2.)
The preciousness of life
Over 300,000 babies are born into the world every day, each one special and unique. Sadly many babies are unwanted. Before birth many are deliberately aborted, mostly for selfish reasons, in a society which has lost direction, moral values, priorities, and any sense of ultimate accountability a consequence of evolutionary thinking. In other societies, some babies are bought and sold, and some are abandoned. But God set such a value upon each life, each soul, each baby born, that He gave His only Son to die for them.
Each child is born with a sinful nature which will all too soon become evident, and each needs to be saved from sin and its consequences. For that to be possible, our blessed Saviour had to die on a cross of suffering and shame. He said, "It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish" (Mt 18.14).
Along with this we read, "Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Jn 3.16). So when these little ones are old enough to understand and choose, they will have to believe in Christ for themselves to be saved. But until they are mature enough to do this, if they do die, perhaps due to accident or illness, they are covered safely by the sacrifice of Christ offered for sin upon the cross, and granted a place in heaven. They die because Adam sinned; they live because Jesus died.
The new birth
When our Lord Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about the necessity of being born again, he could not understand it. All he could think of was natural birth which we have been considering, and quite logically saw the impossibility of a man entering his mother's womb again to be born.
But even as children do enter a natural family by natural birth, so do individuals enter God's spiritual family by the new birth there is no other way! The new birth is no lesser a marvel and miracle than natural birth, for Nicodemus spoke for many when he said, "How can these things be?" (Jn 3.9). It could only be because God so loved the world and gave His only begotten Son (v.16). Thus men and women can and do receive spiritual and eternal life as a gift from God by accepting and believing His Word (1 Pet 1.23) and by the working of His Holy Spirit (Jn 3.8). The new birth, too, is amazing. It has consequences which are present and eternal (1 Jn 3.1-2).
To be continued.
1 See for example www.nrlc.org