WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?

Order and design in our bodies-Part 1

Program 11

by Ernest O'Neill

What is the meaning of life? That is, why are we here? Why are we alive? What are you doing here? What's your purpose in being here? How did you come to be here? What's going to happen after you leave this earth?

That's the kind of question we're discussing at this time on this station each day. You remember last week we spent a little time looking at the world itself to see if there were any clues in this world of ours that would help us understand what the meaning of life was. It is an amazing world when we look at it.

If you just take your hand at this moment and put it near the centre of your chest, you'll feel a beat and that beat is the beat of your heart. That heart is an amazing pump inside you. It's something that keeps beating a hundred thousand times every twenty-four hours. It does it without you making any attempt to create a heartbeat. It does it involuntarily.

It just keep on going a hundred thousand times every twenty-four hours. It keeps doing that for seventy or eighty years of your life, and no one can explain it. We talk about electrical charges, but we don't know where the charges come from. It is a mystery.

So you have in the centre of your chest a mystery. . . a pump that keeps on beating more reliably than anything you have in your car or in your house. It just keeps on regularly performing its job. In fact, those who have invented artificial hearts are bewildered. They use all kinds of batteries, all kinds of equipment, to try to power the artificial heart, but they have had all kinds of difficulties with them. Yet, your heart keeps on beating.

Not only that, but it, as it's beating, acts as a pump, a circulating pump. It circulates around your body blood that finds its way to the farthest extremities of your body via a whole arterial system. These are arteries that branch off into smaller arteries and into smaller capillaries and into smaller channels until you cannot prick a spot on your finger without getting some blood out. That is the kind of detailed, minuscule dimensions that your arterial system eventually leads into and delivers blood.

Not only that, but this blood weighs about twenty pounds. Your heart pumps that blood around your body every two minutes. That's how fast it pumps that blood through. Now it does that not only on the power of the heart itself, but it does it by means of the arterial system.

The arteries have an elasticity to them near the heart, because the heart pumps a great pulp of blood into the artery. so the artery has to have an elasticity that opens up and allows that surge of blood to come through, much like the system of flood control that we have on some of our great rivers.

The incredible thing is that elasticity diminishes the further you go from the heart. In fact, the muscularity of the arteries increases, because the heart beat ceases to have as great an effect on the blood to push it through the arteries the further it gets from the heart. You need a muscular action in the arteries themselves that helps push the blood through, and that's what happens. There is increased muscularity in the arteries that helps push the blood to the very fringes of your body.

Not only that, but there is a whole system of veins that returns that blood back to the heart, so that there is a whole reverse system operation that brings the blood back. The blood picks up all kinds of waste from your body, so it's constantly cleaning your body. It actually is constantly cleansing your body of infection and thus keeping you alive. It brings the waste material back to your pump called your heart.

The further miracle, if you like to call it that, because certainly if something that goes on all day long, all your life long, is that the heart not only pumps your blood through the body and returns it and picks up waste and bring it back, but that the heart actually purifies the blood. It does that by bringing the blood into itself, and then sending it into the lungs, where the blood gathers in oxygen that has been breathed in, and the waste material is expelled and breathed out as carbon dioxide. So the blood can be purified and sent around the body yet again.

This kind of amazing operation is continuing in you night and day. That is only a little of the incredible complexity of the system. Once you begin to look at the heart itself, you see that it has two entrances and two exits, so that it not only sends the blood into the lungs, but it receives the blood back from the lungs and sends it out into the body again. There are valves in the heart so arranged that they keep the blood flowing the same way, and they close to prevent the blood from plowing back on itself.

All this works with an intricate accuracy that even we, with our artificial hearts, which are so clumsy and which are still having all kinds of problems, cannot even begin to imitate. Yet, this complex mechanism inside you, controlled more accurately than we could ever hope to control artificial hearts, this heart operates inside you as a natural part of your body. It continues to work, and if it ceased to work for a moment, you know you would die. So you live at this very moment, even as you sit watching the traffic lights as you drive, or watching the lights of the car ahead, or as you sit in your office, or as you sit at home, thinking of the evening meal to be prepared. This heart continues to keep you alive without any voluntary action on your part. It is simply an involuntary, complicated operation that continues inside you and cannot be fully explained by even the most advanced scientist and doctor that there is.

The incredible movements of the heart is something that is a mystery that we attribute, as we say, to some kind of electrical charge. It's tantamount to the way we explain so many things. We either call it by a name like the law of gravity, or we call it by a name like an electrical charge. The truth is, it is a mystery why your heart keep beating. Yet if it didn't pump that blood continually around your body, you would not live for another second.

Is there any clue in the amazing complexity and design that is apparent in your heart and circulatory system as to the meaning of the world we live in and the meaning of life itself? Let's talk a little more about that tomorrow.

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