A Mother Carries Her Child for Decades – Not Just Nine Months

A Mother Carries Her Child for Decades – Not Just Nine Months

We all know that a mother carries her unborn child for nine months until the baby is born. However, most people don’t realize that a mother carries her child for decades. That is true even of a woman who chooses to abort her child.

The term “chimera” (pronounced ky-mer-uh) refers to an animal made up of parts of different animals. It goes back to ancient mythology, which told of a creature made of parts from various animals, such as a goat, a lion, and a snake. The Bible even speaks about a vision of multiple animal combinations in the book of Revelation. However, in human mothers, scientists see microchimerism in which fetal cells and DNA are left behind in the mother’s body.

The unborn baby, commonly called a fetus, is not part of the mother’s body and has his or her own DNA. The baby is like a foreign object inside the mother. That’s the reason for “morning sickness,” as the mother’s immune system tries to reject it. The often repeated slogan “my body, my choice” does not consider that the baby is not part of the woman’s body and has no choice in the matter.

The placenta is the link between mother and baby. The unborn baby gets nourishment through the placenta as it connects to the mother’s arteries. However, the baby can also shed some cells and DNA, which enter the mother’s bloodstream as early as two weeks after conception. Those fetal cells can find a home in various organs of the mother, including her heart and brain. Since those cells are from a different person, the result is microchimerism. The woman has part of another person remaining inside of her body.

Scientists have found that a mother carries her child for decades as the baby’s cells remain in her. If she has more than one child, she can retain cells from each of them in her body. Just as science has found that stem cells can be helpful in medical treatments because of their ability to form into different kinds of cells, the potent cells from the baby can become pancreas, heart, liver, or brain cells in the mother. Or they can become skin cells. Scientists have found cells from the baby in the scar tissue after a caesarian birth, indicating that the baby’s cells are helping the mother to heal.

Not only do fetal cells continue in the mother after normal births, but also they are left behind when there is a miscarriage or medical abortion. Surprisingly, studies indicate that more cells are left in the mother after an induced abortion than in a natural miscarriage. Furthermore, this transfer of cells works both ways. To a lesser extent, cells from the mother can get into the unborn baby. Since cells from previous siblings are still in the mother, even those can be passed on to the fetus. In other words, a second or third child may have cells from his or her older siblings.

What does this mean? It tells us that a mother carries her child for decades. As mothers carry with them a part of their children, there is good reason for the bonding between mother and child. Even when a woman decides to end her baby’s life before birth, she still carries some of that child with her. Being a mother is a precious blessing, and abortion is not something to be taken lightly.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

References: National Institutes of Health, “Health Shots” on National Public Radio, and Ariel Precision Medicine

COVID in Animals On the Rise

COVID in Animals On the Rise - Mink Farm
Mink Farm

The COVID pandemic has taught us a lot. People need to be aware that COVID has been found in 32 different kinds of animals. A few domestic cases have had a strong effect on humans both economically and medically. Realize that this data is just the recorded cases, and the actual case numbers of COVID in animals may be far higher.

The most significant instances of COVID in animals have been in the American mink. The problem is that mink farms have large numbers of animals confined in small spaces, allowing the virus to spread quickly. The November 2022 issue of Scientific American reported 787 cases in minks. As a result, some mink farmers have had to destroy their entire stock to stop the disease from spreading. White-tailed deer are the second-highest wild animal group, with 467 reported cases of COVID.

Dogs and cats had the next highest numbers–353 cats and 225 dogs with reported COVID infections. There is great concern about these domestic animals since they are in constant contact with humans. Rounding out the domesticated animals that can carry and spread the virus are cows, hamsters, and ferrets.

The remaining cases in both the wild and in zoos include lions, tigers, gorillas, otters, beavers, lynxes, and hippopotamuses. These cases show that the virus is very active among mammals and will continue to spread unless animal vaccines are produced and used. Our domestication and use of wild animals means that new strains of COVID in animals will continue to arise. Humans can get the virus from animals as well as other humans, and we can also pass it back to animals.

Studying the origins of the disease and compiling a database of infected species will make it easier for scientists to learn how to protect against COVID and other virus infections. We humans are often our own worst enemies, but God has given us the wisdom and the tools we need to be good stewards of life on Earth.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “Covid Relay” in Scientific American magazine for November 2022, page 22 and ONLINE.

Cannibalism in Animals and Human Cannibalism

Cannibalism in Animals and Human Cannibalism

Many things separate humans from all other animal life on Earth. One difference involves cannibalism. Scientific research has shown the extent of cannibalism in animals. In the wild, there are countless examples of animals eating their own offspring, the offspring of others, or even a mate. Cannibalism is an easy way to get food, and among predators, nearly all animals who are carnivores sometimes practice cannibalism.

Population density is a significant factor leading to cannibalism in animals. Also, a sick animal unable to get food in the usual way will frequently resort to cannibalism. Some animals will eat other animals’ young to avoid their offspring having to compete for food. Animals such as bears and lions will kill and eat their offspring to stimulate the females into early estrus. Many reproductive issues are involved in animal cannibalism.

Why do some tribal groups practice human cannibalism? The answer is almost never because of food shortages which often lead to cannibalism in animals. However, there is one biblical case where hunger led to cannibalism. Second Kings 6:24-29 tells about a war that caused famine in Samaria, leading two women to agree that they would boil their two sons and eat them. The first woman’s son was cooked and eaten, but the second woman hid her son. The response of the King when he hears of this shows that it was not an accepted practice.

There are cases where people in extreme duress have eaten human flesh. However, human cannibalism practiced in jungle civilizations involves religious reasons, not the desire for humans as food. Instead, they would eat an enemy’s brain to gain their knowledge or their body to gain their strength.

It isn’t just our culture that finds human cannibalism repulsive. Christianity teaches that the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). Our Christian heritage has taught us that human life and the temple in which it resides are special and sacred.

Jesus told His followers to love their enemies. The Greek word “love” here is “agape,” which means “to consider of enormous value.” Our enemies are still unique with eternal souls, making them of incredible worth. This is far from the atheist philosophy of “survival of the fittest.” Killing a human is contrary to all that Jesus uniquely taught. As society drifts away from Christ and His teachings, spiritual cannibalism takes over, leading to war, suffering, and perhaps even physical cannibalism.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Scientific American November 2022, page 19

God’s Original Equipment Is Better Than What Humans Make

God’s Original Equipment Is Better Than What Humans Make

One of the things I have learned about my body is that God’s original equipment is better than what humans make. The dental equipment that various dentists have put into my mouth has usually lasted only about 20 years, but I still have some of my original teeth. My eyes are starting to show aging after working well for years, but I go through glasses at an alarming rate. Trifocals don’t work as well as the eyes I had as a teenager.

The desire to put off children until later in life to pursue a career has caused many couples to freeze embryos for later in vitro fertilization. In Scandanavia, 78,000 human embryos have been frozen, and 18,000 pregnancies have resulted from in vitro fertilization. Studies show that 74% of the mothers who used IVF suffered from high blood pressure, while only 4.3% of women had blood pressure problems with natural childbirth.

High blood pressure is dangerous in pregnancy because it can lead to preeclampsia which can cause complications for both the mother and child. This has implications for the abortion issue and family planning organizations. The bottom line is that women must decide what is most important in their lives. God has given them the ability to have a baby, and God’s original equipment is better than what humans make. Having a child is a choice a woman should make, but babies should not be an afterthought.

The financial stresses on families may force women to make hard decisions. Still, human interference with the original design of the reproductive process causes significant problems for families, women, and babies. Which is more important, having a high-level career or raising a child? Trying to do both and doing them successfully is a daunting challenge.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: CNN.com and The Week for 10/14/22, page 22

Infectious Diseases Can Spread from Animals to Humans

Infectious Diseases Can Spread from Animals to Humans

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that three-quarters of “new or emerging infectious diseases” in humans originated in animals. Medical scientists call them zoonotic infections. Furthermore, six of every ten known infectious diseases can spread from animals to humans. Diseases that originated in animals include SARS, Zika, Ebola, West Nile, HIV, COVID, and Monkeypox. Some diseases, such as HIV, have jumped to humans because of sexual relationships between humans and animals.

As the human population grows, people have more contact with animals and use more animals for food. In addition, the pet trade has seen a massive increase, with a wider variety of animals being confined to homes and sharing everything from beds to meals with their human owners.

Those who blame God for the diseases that are such a serious problem should understand that God never intended for animals to replace humans as family members. A virus that may be of no consequence or even helpful to an animal can cause severe problems for humans. The Old Testament contains strict hygienic rules designed to minimize disease transmission when raising and using animals for food. The rules also forbid using blood as food and any sexual relationship with animals. (See Leviticus 17:12 and Deuteronomy 27:21.).

We may think the biblical instructions for using and managing animals were just for religious purposes. However, it is evident that God knew infectious diseases can spread from animals to humans, and He wanted to protect His people. This is one more example of the consequences of rejecting the Bible as a source of information on how we should live and what our priorities should be.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Legalizing Destructive Behavior

Legalizing Destructive Behavior

The world is in the process of legalizing destructive behavior by allowing the recreational use of drugs that cause incredible suffering to all people. Skeptics say we should allow the use of recreational drugs by pointing to the “failure” of prohibition, which banned the sale of alcoholic drinks in the United States. However, prohibition saw a significant reduction in murder, divorce, drunk driving, and abuse of all kinds. The fact that alcohol promoters used underhanded ways to make alcohol available does not change the fact that prohibition positively affected society in general.

Now we are seeing the legalization of recreational marijuana. California led the way in 2016, and other states are following. We are not talking about the controlled use of cannabis in medical applications or the treatment of mental illness. One of the arguments for legalizing marijuana was that it would put illegal sellers out of business. But, the Los Angeles Times reports that “the exact opposite is happening now.” The newspaper said, “It has spread crime into rural areas and turned local politics across the state into a morass of corruption.” 

The paper reported that local politicians are demanding six-figure bribes for growing licenses as the use of marijuana has become more widespread. “Illegal and completely unregulated” growing operations have popped up across California, overwhelming law enforcement. “Heavily armed camps filled with violent armed men, often tied to cartels, now dot the countryside.” In addition, the paper said that the legal trade is threatened because cannabis prices from illegal sources have dropped so low.

Satan is alive and well on planet Earth. The result is always catastrophic when Christians sit back in complacency while states are legalizing destructive behavior that hurts others and goes against God’s instructions for how we should live. 

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Week for September 30, 2022, page 12.

Knowing How to Die

Knowing How to Die

One of the significant challenges of living in the present age is knowing how to die. That may sound crazy, but it really is a problem. Thanks to medical advancements, people who would have died quickly and perhaps even died in their sleep are now kept alive by machines, drugs, and demands for their organs. Unfortunately, in some cases, this has caused enormous pain.

Knowing how to die has also created a whole industry ranging from medical practitioners to organizations that major in helping people die. Compassion and Choices, Zero Population Growth, and various hospice programs are involved in this issue and have publications promoting their services. Switzerland and Holland have made assisted suicide legal, and France is struggling with the problem. Some states in the U.S. have legalized doctor-assisted suicide, and other state legislatures are wrestling with the concept.

There are many challenging issues in this question. In 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul wrote, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy and you are the temple of God.” Also, in that book, in chapter 6, verses 15-20, Paul condemns prostitution for the same reason.

The human body as a special creation of God is described beautifully in Psalms 139:14. Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that we are created in the image of God, referring to our spiritual makeup and not our physical bodies. However, the vehicle God created and in which His Spirit dwells is a wonderful creation we must protect. This principle prohibits suicide when the body can continue functioning if left alone. But if the body is dying and only medical intervention keeps it alive, that is certainly not the same as natural death.

When people know they are about to die, they have many things to do. Taking care of their possessions, repairing relationships, and making provisions for the next stage of existence are all essential. What we neglect to a great degree is the one thing we all fear the most–pain. In this day of medical advancement, we should be able to control pain in the physical body. Restricting the use of drugs to relieve pain in a dying person is cruel and flies in the face of what God has told us.

Proverbs 31:4-7 makes it clear that the “strong drink” of that day was not for Kings because it would pervert their judgment. Instead, it should be “for him that is ready to perish … let him drink and remember his misery no more.” God determines when a person dies, but we can address the pain involved and leave the difficult question of knowing how to die to the Lord.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

T Cells and Antibodies Fight Pathogens

T Cells and Antibodies Fight Pathogens

T lymphocytes or T cells are one of the most amazing devices designed into your body. T cells are critical to defending your body against viral invaders (pathogens). T cells are white blood cells that work with proteins called antibodies to recognize and fight pathogens. When your immune system detects a pathogen, your body starts producing T cells and antibodies to fight it.

T cells are created in the bone marrow and then travel to the thymus gland right in front of the heart, where they mature. The T cells then circulate in the blood and lymphatic system, searching for pathogens by detecting the antigens on their surfaces. When they find pathogens, T cells and antibodies work to neutralize them, protecting your cells.

If a virus is new, it may take time for your body to generate the necessary T cells and antibodies to fight it. That’s where vaccines step in to give your body a head start so that if you get infected by a new pathogen, your body is prepared and ready to fight it. After clearing the infection, some of the T cells remain in case it returns.

The amazing immune system is the product of careful design and not some kind of accident. The more complexity we see in a system, the less likely it is a product of blind chance. The statement in Psalms 139:14 describes the wonder of T cells and antibodies: “I will praise you, Lord, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works and that my soul knows full well.”

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Mayo Clinic Health Letter for October 2022, page 8.

The Hippocratic Oath No Longer Used

The Hippocratic Oath No Longer Used
Bust of Hippocrates

In the past, the Hippocratic Oath was a sworn agreement made by medical students when they became doctors. It includes a promise “to share knowledge, to help the ill and not cause harm, and to never give a deadly drug or help another to use one.” Hippocrates (460 to 370 B.C.), a Greek physician known as the “father of medicine,” was concerned with the methods and ethics of medical treatment.

Hippocrates lived at the same time as Socrates, who extolled the doctor. He was in a clan known as the Asklepiads, devotees of Asklepios, a Greek god of health. They swore to the gods to keep themselves “pure and holy,” help the sick, and avoid “wrongdoing and harm to patients.” They vowed not to breach patient confidentiality, perform surgery for which they had not been trained, cause an abortion, poison, euthanize, or sexually abuse a patient.”

The Hippocratic Oath appeared in a collection of some 70 texts called the Hippocratic Corpus. By the 10th century, Christians had replaced Greek divinities in the Hippocratic Oath with the God of the Bible, and medical schools used that version until modern times. By the early 20th century, that began to change. In 1928 only 14 of 79 medical schools required their students to swear the Hippocratic Oath. No medical school in America requires it today.

In recent years, the ethics of medicine has become a major issue. Special interest groups like “Compassion and Choices” advocate for physician-assisted suicide. Laws in several states now allow doctors to prescribe lethal amounts of drugs for use in suicide.

Is the morality of a doctor important when you or a loved one are in declining health? What is the difference between a doctor who believes the body is the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 3:16) and one who believes in survival of the fittest? This is a significant issue for all of us dealing with end-of-life issues, as all eventually will.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “Bring Back Hippocrates” by Dr. Lydia S. Dugdale, a physician and ethicist at Columbia University in New York, in the Autumn issue of Plough Quarterly.

Endothermic or Ectothermic – What’s the Difference?

Endothermic or Ectothermic – What’s the Difference?

You are an endothermic mammal. That means your body’s metabolic rate controls your internal body temperature. We describe that condition by saying you are “warm-blooded.” Many life forms on our planet are “cold-blooded” (ectothermic) because the environment controls their internal body temperature. The limitation of being cold-blooded is that it requires warm environmental temperatures. Ectothermic life forms can’t survive in polar areas. Endothermic life can survive almost anywhere.

During the time of the dinosaurs, the planet was very hot. That means biological systems, including plants, grew quickly. Those conditions were part of God’s preparation of resources that humans would need, including oil, coal, topsoil, and oxygen. However, the geologic record shows a point in Earth’s history when the climate radically changed. 

As the entire planet cooled, areas at or near the poles became too cold for cold-blooded life to exist. Studies of bone growth rates and oxygen isotopes in ancient bones indicate a rapid change. This change would not be a problem for warm-blooded animals but would reduce the number, size, and activity of cold-blooded life forms.

The challenge would be to design living creatures that can translate food into enough internal heat to survive in a cold environment. Science News reported on studies of the inner ears of reptiles and mammals. In warm-blooded animals, the inner ear fluid is less viscous, requiring that the ear canals become smaller. As a result, fossils show a sharp change in inner ear morphology at the time when Earth’s climate became colder. 

Many other changes were required for life to go from ectothermic to endothermic. However, the inner ear structure is preserved in the fossils, making it useful for scientists to study the history of life on Earth. The complexity of endothermy reminds us again of the words of Psalms 139:14, “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works.” In our time of changing climate, the design of life continues to show the wisdom involved in life’s creation. 

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Science News August 27, 2022, page 9, and Nature.com