I’ve always been amazed by the body’s ability to heal itself. However, this ability really pales in comparison to the regenerative abilities of the salamander.
Salamanders like the Mexican axolotl can regenerate their legs, tail, upper and lower jaw, eyes, lungs, heart, and even parts of their brain and spinal cord! And humans? Well… we can regenerate the tips of our fingers and toes, and a good part of the liver (the salamander is unimpressed).
Does God love salamanders more than us?
Why would God allow salamanders to recover from so many amputations yet not grant us the same dignity? Don’t get me wrong, if one day I’m using a table saw and accidentally sever my liver, I’m sure I’ll be thankful it can regenerate. But human regeneration just doesn’t seem to be very well thought out, at least not when compared to the salamander’s.
Take Mary Dague for example. She had her arms blown off as she bravely tried to dismantle a bomb, and must now spend the rest of her life without arms. Meanwhile, some stupid salamander is walking around on a fresh set of legs that he was able to regrow in just a few weeks.
Heck, even a friggin’ starfish can be cut into four quarters, and each quarter will regenerate into another starfish. But if we lose so much as a finger, we spend the rest of our lives with a stump. Why?!
How does God make these decisions?
Of course, no one of can say for certain why God would leave us in such a predicament, so I’m just going to assume that, at some point, the following conversation occurred…
“Hey Jesus!” hollered God from His workshop, “Which animal do you think I should give regenerative powers to, the salamander or the human?”
“Why wouldn’t you choose humans?” responded Jesus as he approached the workshop door.
“Well, I was thinking that later on I might ask humans to cut off their own body parts, like their hands, feet, eyes and foreskins. And if all that stuff just grew back, what would be the point in having them cut ’em off?” “Well… none, but…” “Exactly!” exclaims God, “Salamanders it is then!”
Are human cells just too complex?
Wired Magazine reports that “Salamander regeneration begins when a clump of cells called a blastema forms at the tip of a lost limb. From the blastema come skin, muscle, bone, blood vessels and neurons, ultimately growing into a limb virtually identical to the old one.” If the salamander can regenerate skin, muscle, bone, blood vessels and neurons, how are we much different?
In fact, the Mexican axolotl is said to share 90% of the same genes as humans. What is it about that other 10% that makes human limb regeneration an impossible proposition for God?
Of course, most Christians wouldn’t be comfortable saying this problem is too complex for God, especially when He’s clearly able to do it with other genetically similar animals. The only other alternatives are that God has removed or denied us this ability… or it is a random result of evolution.
Also a problem for evolution
Evolution isn’t entirely off the hook on this one, either. If salamanders and humans share a distant ancestor, regenerative powers seem like something worth selecting for. Wouldn’t animals with regenerative powers be better suited to survive and reproduce than animals without?
Then again, one need only look at flightless birds to realize that evolution sometimes selects against what was once a valuable adaptation. Nature has no mind to care about the loss of prior adaptations, so long as an organism survives.
Science givith what the Lord taketh away?
Scientists are hopeful that someday we’ll be able to coax human cells into regenerating body parts in much the same way as salamanders do. If we’re successful, we’ve either undone evolution’s oversight, or undone God’s decision to not allow regeneration (an odd proposition).
If God is real and loves us, we might expect that He would grant us some of the most useful gifts that He has granted other lesser animals, such as the gift of regeneration.
And if evolution is true, it still seems like nature should select for regeneration.
I was almost tempted to call this one a draw, but it’s easier to understand how a thoughtless natural process could lose track of a once useful adaptation. In fact, it may even serve as a an example of how mindless and undirected evolution really is, as it doesn’t always accurately gauge the value of a specific trait.
A thoughtful creator, however, should know the value of regeneration, and should care enough to heal all animals the way he does the salamander. He should also know that regenerating a finger or an eye is going to be more practical than regenerating a liver.