Saturday, October 19, 2013

In the Beginning

Sunday Morning Sermon Oct 20 2013


In the beginning there was the Cell.

The word cell comes from the Latin cella, meaning "small room". It was coined by Robert Hooke in his book, MICROGRAPHIA (1655), in which he compared the cork cells he saw through his microscope to the small rooms that monks used to live in. The cell is the basic structural, functional and biological unit of all known living organisms. Cells are the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and are often called the "building blocks of life".

Cells consist of a protoplasm enclosed within a membrane, which contains many biomolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. Organisms can be classified as unicellular (consisting of a single cell; including most bacteria) or multicellular (including plants and animals). While the number of cells in plants and animals varies from species to species, humans contain about 100 trillion (1014) cells. Most plant and animal cells are visible only under the microscope, with dimensions between 1 and 100 micrometers.
And the Cell divided. It was the first ever mathematical function that took place in the Universe. Actually this division gave rise to another math function. Multiplication. Sounds comical, huh?

The oldest cells on Earth are single-cell organisms called bacteria. Fossil records indicate that mounds of bacteria once covered young Earth. Some began making their own food using carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and energy they harvested from the sun. This process (called photosynthesis) produced enough oxygen to change Earth's atmosphere. Soon afterward, new oxygen-breathing life forms came onto the scene. With a population of increasingly diverse bacterial life, the stage was set for some amazing things to happen.
The endosymbiotic theory infers that "Symbiosis" occurs when two different species benefit from living and working together. When one organism actually lives inside the other it's called endosymbiosis. The endosymbiotic theory describes how a large host cell and ingested bacteria could easily become dependent on one another for survival, resulting in a permanent relationship.

All cells contain DNA, the encoded instructions that are used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms. Ne of the important properties of DNA is duplication, or making copies. This takes place when cells divide and the DNA within is replicated in the divided parts. DNA is now used to research the origins of living beings and the source of their genealogy.

While debates, discussions, and discourse still plague the human mind about Darwins Theory of Evolution, where one species evolves into another through time using the process of natural selection, the fact remains that cells have always divided themselves and evolved into multiple cells that have given rise to increase in their populations. Hence one can easily conclude from this that the preservation and survival of all species is based on cell division which delivers its multiplication.

And then, we have Creation. The First Man, and The First Woman. The First Chicken, and The First Egg. The First Mother, and The First Child. And so on. Followers of the Darwinian branch of evolutionary science usually ask the question about what existed before Creation? Religionists respond to this by answering "Nothing did except God, The Creator". The Darwinians then counter question with the famous line, "Who Created God". To the religionist, this is a question that treads on blasphemy because he bases all his faith and thought on the simple assumption that God is the Beginning. In fact he even goes further back to deny any beginning at all because God was always there and didn’t need to be born or have started from something else before Him. To the Darwinist or to even most secular modern scientists thinking it becomes a bit difficult to put a blank before God because most scientific facts are based on a "source and object" formula, where the latter is a product of the former with no beginning nor end. I remember my first Chemistry text book during my O levels starting with the line "matter can neither be created nor destroyed". Now if this statement were true then God certainly bows out of the equation. And as for those who choose the other route they have to simply assume that life is a cycle with no beginning or end. What other choice do we have until such time as someone comes up with some solid proof of how it all began? Yes, we do have the "big bang" theory that survives among many pundits these days. Yet, even for the big bang to happen there had to be something in existence before that to make the bang. You can't bang something out of nothing, surely?

The Nobel Prize winning scientist Linus Pauling, aptly described science as the search for truth.  Science does this by continuously comparing its theories objectively with evidence in the natural world.  When theories no longer conform to the evidence, they are modified or rejected in favor of new theories that do conform.  In other words, science constantly tries to prove its assumptions to be false and rejects implausible explanations.  In this way, scientific knowledge and understanding grow over time.  Religious explanations for the order of things are not science because they are based primarily on faith and do not subject themselves to be objectively falsified.  Because of this fundamental difference in the approach to understanding our natural world, the U.S. Supreme Court in effect decided in 1987 that the Biblically based "creation science" is not a science and cannot be taught as such in public schools as an alternative or in addition to the mainstream evolutionary theory of the biological sciences.  However, religious creation stories and the idea of "intelligent design" can be taught in philosophy, religion, or history courses.  Religion and Science provide different approaches to knowledge.  It is important to understand both.

It was sometime in the '90s that the Creationists started challenging the Scientists about the anomaly where it was announced that the Universe was around 15 billion  years old while some stars were thought to be 18 billion years old. Surely you can't have a child older than its mother? The response by the men of science was, that the methods of measurement used then, were not as accurate and sophisticated as it is now with gadgets like Hubble in space. Further the plus or minus factor that plays into these numbers balances the anomaly since 3 billion doesn’t make much difference when you are counting 15 and 18 billion. 15 plus or minus 3 and 18 plus or minus 3 somewhat equates to a reasonable balance. Today, science has a firm foundation on time, distance, length, and space with minimal error. The very fact that scientific probes to the moon, mars and other planets are making their journeys with pin point accuracy goes to prove this beyond any doubt whatsoever.

And so, the Cell divided and grew into multiple cells that flourished across the hills and valleys, rivers and streams, Oceans and seas, on our little planet called earth. Science teaches us that in its 4.6 billion years circling the sun, the Earth has harbored an increasing diversity of life forms. From Cells to Bacteria to Multi Cellular Life, to Animals, Fish, Plants, Insects, Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals, Birds, Flowers, Primates, and Humans. Who comes next is a good question to pose? And also when, where and how? Science also teaches s that many species have already become extinct through this long span of time. The Anaerobes, the Trilobites and the Dinosaur. Humans are supposed to have roamed our planet only about 2.5 million  years ago. Taking that as a valid fact of science and looking before to the rest of the 4.6 billion years one begins to wonder whether this era was one of nothingness and absolute silence. How would the religionist explain what God Was Doing during this time? Even if they do say He was simply thinking or resting one would surely tend to ask why does He need to think or rest, anyways?


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