The World of Cells

by Joe Selzler

Have you ever taken some time to look at your hands or arms or some other part of your body? If you do you will immediately see things such as skin, veins, hair and muscles. We think of these things as units and systems, but what we often don't think about is that each of these things is actually made of something that is very small. If you look at the surface of your skin with a powerful microscope you will see that it is made up of very tiny things called cells. Indeed, when you view any part of your body through powerful microscopes you will see that you are entirely made up entirely of cells, billions of them.

A human being is made up of many systems that are in turn made up of cells that work together to perform various essential functions within the body. Each cell has a specialized job to perform and the cells are uniquely designed to perform their function. No other cell in the body can perform that particular function. Therefore, if something goes wrong with that cell no other cell can take up the function of the bad cell and the body will lose the services that the cell performed.

Amazingly, cells are not the smallest things in our bodies. Cells in their turn are made up of even smaller things, such as enzymes, proteins, amino acids, DNA, RNA and a host of other items. Enzymes, of which thousands exist in our cells, are like small chemical machines that allow our cells, through chemical reactions, to grow and reproduce. Apparently enzymes are formed by stringing together up to 1000 amino acids in a very specific and unique order1. In other words, if the amino acids in a particular enzyme got formed in any other order the enzyme would be useless. However, not only is the order of the amino acids important, but the chain of amino acids folds into a specific shape that allows the enzyme to perform its function in the cell.

One of the functions of enzymes is to break down various chemicals in our body so that our cells can use them. The secret of how the enzyme breaks down these chemicals lies in the shape of the string of amino acids of which it is formed. Chemicals are made of certain molecules and the enzymes in our cells are shaped to accept the molecules of the chemical they are designed to break down. The illustration in Figure 1 shows how the maltase enzyme is shaped to accept the molecules of the sugar maltose. It breaks this sugar down into its component parts so that the cells in the stomach or intestinal lining of our bodies can digest it. However, it cannot accept any other chemical, because the molecules of each chemical in our bodies have unique shapes.

Figure 1: How an Enzyme is shaped to accept a certain molecule like a key in a lock.1

Purposeful Design

When I consider our bodies and all that goes into their makeup I cannot help but be amazed at how well they are designed. In today's world, with its emphasis on science and reasoning, we have lost the wonder of life. We begin to take our own lives for granted and assume that if anything goes wrong science will come up with an answer to fix it. Because we can study our bodies and understand how they work we believe we have the key to our origins. We believe that we are the result of mechanical forces that have been at work for billions of years and will continue to go on that way. This has unfortunately left many of us wondering just what the purpose of life is.

However, allow me to challenge you to think differently. Remember King David of Israel? He was the ruddy boy who slew the mighty Goliath with a stone and a sling. He believed in and relied upon someone outside of this world who had made him. In Psalms 119: 73 he says "Thy hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn thy commandments." David knew that he did not come about by chance. He knew he had been specifically designed for a specific purpose by someone. Like the enzymes in our bodies that only fit one particular molecule we fit into God's plan in one particular way and for one particular purpose.

If your Creator has taken great care to make the cells of your body with such exacting design to fulfill their unique purpose, has He not also taken great care to prepare your life and your situations to achieve His special purpose for you? The next time you are wondering who you are and why you are here take a look at yourself in the mirror. Think of the wonder of what you are looking at and believe that the One who has made you will surely lead you in the right direction.

1. How Stuff Works (Cell2) By Marshall Brian, http://science.howstuffworks.com/cell2.htm

Other resources:

1. The blood and circulation (Cancer Help Web Site) http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=116

2. How Cells Work http://science.howstuffworks.com/cell.htm

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