The Marvelous Design of the Human Heart
I am amazed as I continue to study the anatomy and physiology of the body. The body reveals its secrets as I study it organ by organ and system by system. I stand in awe of its complexity and its organization. The more I delve into it, the more there is to know and understand. It is like reading God’s Word. The more one studies it, the more there is to be studied. As an example of the complexity of the human body, consider the human heart. The heart beats 35,000,000 times a year if the heart rate remained at 70-72 beats a minute. However, the rate fluctuates because of exercise and other factors. Converting the heart’s action into energy, the heart does enough work each day equivalent to lifting a 154 lb. person a distance of 1000 feet. In a life time this magnificent pump could fill an ocean vessel with a capacity of 240 million liters. All of this is a marvelous example of design, however, let us deal with only one anatomical structure—the two heart valves between the atria and ventricles.
There are four valves in the heart: 1) pulmonary, 2) aortic, 3) tricuspid, and 4) mitral. Valves are designed to prevent blood from re-entering a chamber it has left. Presently, this discussion will be limited to the tricuspid and mitral valves. To me, from my limited human perspective, it is as if the Divine Creator were saying in His mind, prior to His creation of man:
I am going to create this heart. In order for this liquid I will call blood to get to the body, nourish cells, and bring much needed oxygen to them, I am going to make the bottom chambers of the heart (i.e. ventricles) thick. I will make the left one thicker than the right since it must build up enough pressure to force blood all around the body and back to this pumping organ. The right ventricle I will make thick but just a little thinner than the left since it will only need to pump blood to two breathing organs that will be called lungs. When the ventricles pump, pressure will be created. To prevent blood from entering the chambers above that I will call atria, I am going to put two gates called valves (tricuspid on the right side and mitral on the left). It will be the pressure created in the ventricles that will close these valves. Now, I see a problem developing here which I am going to solve. What can I do to prevent the valves from springing open backwards as pressure rises and shuts the valves? Here is what I will do. I will place a series of finger like projections into the walls of the right and left ventricles which will be small muscles. These I will call papillary muscles. Tied to these muscles will be small tendons (chordae tendineae) that will be attached to the bottom of the valves. As pressure rises, and the valves shut, these small muscles will contract and exert tension on the gates (valves) preventing them from swinging open in the reverse direction.
This God did, and when He was finished He said that all was very good (cf. Genesis 1:31). After He breathed into man the breath of life, He instructed man to care for himself through eating properly, exercising, and resting. This marvelous heart would sustain him throughout his years on Earth until he was called home by God to live with Him in Heaven.
Dear reader, as an anatomist and physiologist, each time I dissect an organ or look at the body in its entirety, I think on these things. This could not have happened by mere circumstance or accident. It must have been planned in the mind of God. Evolutionists tell us that it takes millions of years for something as that which I have presented above to occur. However, there simply could not be more than just a few minutes for such a complex system to develop. You have five minutes for this to happen with a human being or else there is death (cf. Warren-Matson Debate on the Existence of God 196-99, 274-80).
We have a loving God who planned all of this, and as I continue to study the complexity of the human body, I must return to the statement found in Psalm 139:14, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and my soul knows very well.”
Professor of Anatomy and Physiology
Washington State Community College
March 23, 2010