- - Thursday, May 5, 2016


Religious faith and science have long struggled, often against each other, in the search for knowledge. Man has hungered for explanations since he emerged from the cave, and perhaps before, and the study of nature and nature’s wonders have put science in the forefront of the search for knowledge. Occasionally science and religion stumble into each other at the intersection of faith and fact. An astonishing observation about the act of procreation, just now recorded, may be one of those moments.

Scientists at Northwestern University in Illinois have revealed research showing what happens at the instant that sperm meets the human egg. The union releases a flash of light like fireworks, which researchers have photographed and posted online for all to witness. The finding, published April 26 in the journal Scientific Reports, explains that when a sperm cell penetrates the egg, a surge of calcium provokes the egg to release a stream of zinc. The emerging zinc binds with small molecules that emit a detectible flash of fluorescence. “To see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking,” says Prof. Teresa Woodruff, one of the study’s senior authors.

The flash of light has utility beyond the sublime. Researchers observed that some eggs glow with greater intensity than others, which they believe as an indicator of livelier genetic composition. This can help doctors choose the healthiest eggs for in vitro fertilization procedures.

The flash of light accompanying procreation recalls the words of a wise and ancient book now banned in certain American schools and libraries. The Bible records the moment in Genesis: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” To be sure, Northwestern’s researchers make no correlation between their discovery and the biblical account of creation, but inquiring minds that want to know can make their own connections.

The scientists describe the flash at conception as the beginning of “human life,” a description feminists avoid as a threat to their most precious accomplishment — abortion on demand. They relish the ability to usurp the role of the Creator to decide when life should begin and end. It’s remarkable that the “life” description emanates from one of the nation’s most militantly liberal academic strongholds.

The nexus of religion and science fascinates everyone. The National Geographic Channel is currently showing a miniseries titled “The Story of God,” which follows actor Morgan Freeman as he travels to the world’s holy sites searching for answers at the fundamental sources of human mystery. The search for answers is common to all major faiths, and as Mr. Freeman ponders man’s origins, he compares the stories to the narrative of science, with its Big Bang theory, which argues that the entire universe erupted from a single point with a blaze of illumination. It’s a theory that mirrors the account in Genesis.

If the cosmos was forged in a dazzling instant of creation, it follows that the act would be accompanied by a flash of light, which might be called a baby bang. “I want to know,” said Albert Einstein, “how God created this world.” And so do we all. Perhaps science discerns a hint.

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