The Design of Biological Clocks

Anyone with even limited gardening experience will quickly learn that plants have a definite schedule that they operate on and which has very little variation in it. The scarlet pimpernel opens its flower at 8:00 AM and closes it at 2:00 PM. The dandelion opens at 9:00 AM and closes at 5:00 PM. The morning glory opens at 10:00 and closes at dusk. The water lily opens at noon and closes at 2:00 PM. Goatsbeard opens at noon and closes at 6:00 pm. California poppy opens at 1:00 PM and closes at dusk. Chicory opens at 2:00 PM and closes at 5:00 PM. Four-o'clock opens at 4:00 PM and evening primose opens at 6:00 PM. In 1751, the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus actually worked out a clock based upon human abilities to use flowers to tell time.

Modern scientists have learned that the human body is designed with internal clocks which have the same capacity to measure time as flowers do. We have also learned that this ability is extremely important for man to survive on the earth. The master clock in humans is located in the brain and is called the suprachiasmatic nuclei. This clock is set every day from a novel type of photoreceptor in the eye that is independent of our vision--even totally blind people have it.

In the hours before you wake up in the morning, this clock signals enzymes to start flowing for your first meal. Body temperature and blood pressure are raised so that you can face the day. During the day, various cells and chemicals are started so that they will be available and functioning when they are called upon. These include hormones and other secretions which we need at critical times of the day or night.

Science can use this information to help mankind in wonderful ways. Chemotherapeutic drugs can do much better work if they enter the body at certain optimum times. Even such simple things as aspirin can be more effectively used at times when the body chemistry is particularly suited for it.

Russell Foster, a scientist studying all of this, has said, "Nature has devised internal clocks for a simple reason: they aid survival." We would maintain that devising something is a recognition of intelligence and purpose in the cosmos. It is part of the design that speaks of God's intelligence and purpose. David stated it eloquently when he said, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wondrous are your works (Psalm 139:14).

--Reference: Newsweek, October 11, 2004, page 46.

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