Thursday, February 13, 2014

I Found This in My Refrigerator.

This is some expired cottage cheese that I rediscovered in my refrigerator one day.  From white, it has turned into a color extravaganza bustling with new life forms.  There appears to be at least 4 different types of mold in there (maybe more).

They are likely to be bacteria (as opposed to fungi).  Generally speaking they are known as microorganisms (in many instances germs) -- or, the smallest creatures on earth.  From several miles beneath the earth's crust to high in the sky, microorganisms have a widespread presence on this earth.  From 200 miles above the earth, looking down, they are the only visible life form. We see them in special satellite photos taken of the oceans in early spring.  They are massive blooms of phytoplankton registering as fantastic swirls of green, blue green and red in the northern oceans.  Microorganisms have a fundamental and far-reaching organic dominance here on earth -- literally penetrating into every nook and cranny – and are absolutely everywhere.  But fear not, they have an irreplaceable part in nature and comparatively few of them are harmful to us.

Earlier in history, it was apparent to people that some spoiled foods were inedible and caused harm while others were actually pleasing to the palate – sour cream, sour kraut, I can’t think of too many others.  And that certain illness were caused by some sort of transmittable something or other.  We didn’t know how all of that worked.  Although, simple hand-washing, first recommended by the Lord, was already a well known first line-of-defense against the invasion of disease, it was still not entirely known why.

Then the theories started to fly.  There was the theory of spontaneous generation, as well as the bad air theory.  Then came Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in his dusty Holland fabric shop during the late 1600’s.  He opened up a whole new world of magnification to us and subsequently became known as “one of the most original and curious men who ever lived”.  By grinding glass lenses to ever-finer specifications, he could determine the thread counts on the bolts of linens he was buying to make his draperies and upholstery.  Soon, through these early magnifying glasses he also gazed at specimens of pond water about which he wrote, “. . .there were many very little animacules, very prettily a-moving. . . in such enormous numbers, that all the water. . . seemed to be alive.”  He soon had constructed 250 powerful microscopes that could magnify up to as much as 300 times.  He very accurately described bacteria and protozoa. Eventually he was recognized as a scientist of great merit.   

By the 1800’s microscopes were capable of magnifying 1000 times or more, and the “if. . . well, o.k. . . then. . . ” approach of deductive reasoning in the scientific method, a very sound, logical method for beginning to map out the physical intricacies of God’s creation.
Let’s fast-forward to the amazing story of Hungarian Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis.  Read his story on Wikipedia.  He proved that deadly infections were indeed spread by doctors simply not washing their hands between patients, yet unable to change the stubborn ways of his lazy-minded colleagues, and save lives, eventually wound up committed to an insane asylum, and went down in history as a sort of peevish genius.

The rest of the story through the “germ theory” is more fascinating than any science fiction.  We will forgo that here.

Microorganisms are ubiquitous in nature  -- they are everywhere.  Most don't reside in any specific plant or animal host but are free-living, could be isolated from the soil, water, plants and animals just about everywhere, and are not known to cause disease.  Others are capable of producing disease if they are introduced into a part of the body that is not meant for them to be in.  They will then invade, cause infection, and it is up to the many specialized antigen fighting cells in our body to stop them.  The ones here in the picture of the dish in the refrigerator are easy for the body's defenses to deal with.  Our eyes are our first line of defense (early warning system), then I suppose, our nose (less forgiving).  Our taste buds are next, then stomach acid with its fierce acid bath is next in line, and if all of those defenses don't work, our stomach muscles are next (eeewwww).

To disarm the ones that get past the body's defenses, we have to rely on the defenses that bacteria themselves use against each other.  These are what we know as antibiotics.  Antibiotics are what many bacteria use in their quest to not merely survive but to invade and dominate other cultures of bacterium.

I can't be absolutely sure what these various microbial culture in my dish are.  My microbiology professor would be able to name most all of them by sight.  But that is only after many trips to the microscope where they would be stained and analyzed by shape and post-stain adherence, whether they live in chains or clumps or any number of other tell-tale traits.

And then other men would go on to build better and better microscopes until one day the amazing electron microscope would be put together.  It would enable us to peer at not only now the miniscule nucleus of a tiny living cell unit, but at each of the billions of genes contained in them, and the variety of nitrogen bases that comprised them and the countless electron they consisted of.  And we now know that these unimaginably small and numerous hundreds and hundreds of trillions of particles that make up these things are simply giants in comparison to the smaller particles we have discovered yet cannot see.  Even if we someday are able to see them, there will be smaller particles yet to come that we cannot.  Our eyes and our tools are finite; they have limits.  Still, there is spirit. 

We know it is there.  Those particles in our immense minds containing our deep invisible thoughts, finally, that is wherein lies the miraculous, incomprehensible division between soul and spirit.  That’s where the stuff of life dwells.  The stuff of real life.  The stuff that Jesus had access to.  The stuff that Jesus was a part of, and had authority over.  Therein, God showed us where we came from, and what we meant to Him – what it all meant.

Jesus was able to show his irrefutable authority in that area to everyone he met.  No one doubted his spiritual import, but only questioned whether it was a good or bad, or if it even mattered.  He gave us the Creators model --  “That which is born of flesh, is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit, is Spirit”.  That was not just a generous revelation of what was what, but of who and what He was.  His purpose was to explain the creative God-head of the universe, which he was a part of.  His method was by demonstrating the existence of and difference between flesh and Spirit – organic life made of the elemental things of the earth, and eternal life consisting of similarly indestructible spiritual matter that held it all together.  His means was by coming and fellowshipping with His creation, teaching it about true life, which came from above, and demonstrating eternal life. This is Spirit. 

This is the God whom self-willed men did not want to find – the one with a fierce reputation for love and productive engagement with His creation, a constant invisible yet tangible and irrefutable presence which they were now accountable to. In the process “Man” was able to discover that he/she need look no further in their quest for Spirit because God left his testimony in Spirit – Spirit and Truth.  The only known truth who had demonstrated power over ‘spirit’.  Predictably, it was the same God, the only God, who revealed Himself since the beginning of the present earth and man’s presence on it.  It was a done deal.
Now we explore his magnificent creation knowing whose it is, where we are going, and of what we are made – flesh and Spirit.  If we listen and learn, follow and allow ourselves to be led by Him.With our marvelously curious minds and the powerful tools devised by them we look in amazement at the universe of micro-organisms, and beyond, and see how easy it is to forget that something greater than that is here.  He is here.  He is everywhere.

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