Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Miracle Baby: the Wonder of the Incarnation

By John Jefferson Davis
Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics

My wife Robin and I just returned recently from Washington, DC and a visit to get acquainted with our new grandson, Isaiah John Tobin, born November 14, 2009, weighing 7 lbs. 14 oz. ( and, coincidentally, Isaiah 7:14: “…. God with us”). Holding my new grandson as a proud grandfather (my third grandchild), I was so thankful to God for the birth of this beautiful new healthy child, and reflected on the amazing process of human embryonic development in the womb and live birth – things that we can easily take for granted because they seem so “normal”. The Old Testament Isaiah spoke about the birth of a “miracle baby” (Is.7:14), but there is something well-nigh miraculous about the formation and birth of any human baby, when seen in the light of modern science and embryology.
In his fascinating book The Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth, Gerald Schroeder reminds us that a normal adult human body contains 75 trillion cells, and all 75 trillion were grown from and encoded genetically in a single fertilized egg cell in our mother’s womb. One cell divides to become two … four … eight …. sixteen … thirty-two …. sixty-four … and so on, all the way to 75 trillion cells – and these cells must appear at the right time, in the right order, in the right spatial configuration, so that brain cells do not appear in our toes or fingernail cells in our liver, and so on. There are 3.5 billion base pairs to specify the human genome in each cell, and this genetic “script” is packed into a space in the cell nucleus that measures only 1/1000 of an inch in diameter – an amazing feat of divinely designed “nanotechnology.”
Each time one of our cells divides, the amount of genetic information that has to be copied without error is like a person xeroxing ten 400 page books per minute for ten hours - and this from the time of conception until we die. As one biologist observed, the process of human embryological development staggers the imagination: the human embryo is like a machine that can not only build itself, but has the “intelligence” to be able to make a copy of itself as well.
At this Christmas season, when we again remember the “Word made flesh” (John 1:14), we can again in all humility reflect on the miracle of the Incarnation: the Author of the genetic code became a zygote, then an embryo, and finally, a 75 trillion-celled human being – himself living through, for our benefit, the amazing process that he himself had designed. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift: Joy to the world … the Incarnate Lord has come!

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