Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Conscious Breathing - Appreciating the Miracle



[a photo of the inside of the aveoli]

The last verse in Psalms states “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.” The Midrash Breishis Rabbah 14:9 interprets this to mean “A person must praise his Creator for every breath he takes.”

When we contemplate the miraculous engineering of the human lungs, we should be speechless with gratitude and filled with love for our Creator.

At rest, we breathe about once every three seconds. The air first passes through the windpipe and into the larger air passageways of the lung. At this stage, the air is warmed to body temperature and humidified. It is also cleaned of dust by tiny hairs called cilia located on the walls of all the passageways. After that, the air enters several hundred million tiny pockets called aveoli which are each about 1/10 of an inch wide. There oxygen is absorbed into the blood stream and carbon dioxide is expelled. The total surface area of all the aveoli in one set of lungs is about 750 square feet, or a room about 27 feet on each side. If all of the capillaries that surround the alveoli were unwound and laid end to end, they would extend for about 620 miles. This is about the distance by road between New York City and Detroit, Michigan.

We cannot live more than about five minutes without breathing.

At this time, human engineers are not able to replace lung function artificially. Certain types of heart-lung machines may be able to keep a patient alive in intensive care for several weeks. Due to the high technical demands, cost, and risk of complications this is usually only considered as a last resort while the patient is awaiting surgery or transplant.

Let’s pause once in a while, when we are otherwise bored and idle, and think about breathing. Breathe consciously. Enjoy the beautiful life giving air and the amazing machinery God has placed in our chests. Praise God for the miracle of each breath.

[As an aside: Don’t smoke. You’re ruining a beautiful part of creation – your lungs.]

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cellular respiration is really, really comlicated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerobic_respiration

Alex said...

Nice post, JP.
I like these posts of yours about complicated human "machinery."

Abe said...

>>>When we contemplate the miraculous engineering of the human lungs, we should be speechless with gratitude and filled with love for our Creator.

More nonsense from the deacon of the disjointed.
300 years ago, no one would have dreamed of electricity, semi-conductors or the integrated circuit. These discoveries and inventions, among others, have revolutionized modern engeneering, physics, medicine etc.
Why assume that similar discoveries and inventions will not lead to artifical permanent body organs? Unlike religious fundamentalists, atheists believe future scientific breakthroughs in atomic cumputing, nanotechnology etc, will subvert the notion of a miraculous god-created man. Why the need to extol god's miraculous lungs and kidneys when you can get a nice artificial replacement?

In the years leading up to the collapse of right-wing orthodoxy's capacity for critical thinking, soaring revulsion for the scientific method and common sense led many otherwise thoughtful and intelligent people astray.
Fundamentalist dogma swamped sound judgement and spurred many reasonable folks to deliver their minds to rabbeim ignorant of the mechanics of scientific progress.
The illogic behind right-wing orthodoxy is seductive, but no less pernicious. Promise your disciples olam haba but ignore the absence of any evidence thereof and failure to deliver that eternal bliss.
If atheists have learned anything its that unfalsifibale fundamentalism swallows its leaders, only to regurgitate a morass of repetitious indoctrination. Fundamentalism doesn't enoble its advocates, rather it denigrates, frustrates and mocks reason.
You only have to read Jacob Stein's blogs to recognize that.

jewish philosopher said...

Because people will someday be able to build an artificial lung (probably not true anyway) that proves that God didn't make our lungs?

How much heroin and\or alcohol do you need to consume before that makes sense?

Abe said...

>>>Because people will someday be able to build an artificial lung (probably not true anyway) that proves that God didn't make our lungs?

No. You can't prove god doesn't exist or didn't make our lungs. You can't prove a negative. But that axiom of logic and reason is incapable of being understood by religious fundamentalists.

However, because fully functioning artificial organs will be as effective as natural ones, their efficacy obviates the need for god as an explaination for their compexity.

jewish philosopher said...

"because fully functioning artificial organs will be as effective as natural ones, their efficacy obviates the need for god as an explaination for their compexity."

I see. So you believe that future scientists will be able to take simple chemicals and build lungs. And then what? Those scientists went back in time and made your lungs?

Who told you this, Abe?

Abe said...

>>>I see. So you believe that future scientists will be able to take simple chemicals and build lungs. And then what? Those scientists went back in time and made your lungs?

Who told you this, Abe?

The same ingenious people that invented the microcircuit and integrated semiconductor, formulated the polio vaccine and created artificial hips and knees.
Only the narrow-minded wearing blinders cannot envision the majestic advances of science that ultimitely will deprive many fundamentalists of the emotional crutch to believe in god.

jewish philosopher said...

You have the emotional crutch Abe - believing your silly, brainless god evolution.

Anonymous said...

If scientists do invent a lung, all it will porve is that intelligent people can make a lung. That wouldn't prove evolution could do it.

Alex said...

@Abe: "You can't prove a negative."

Is that a fact?

Abe said...

@Abe: "You can't prove a negative."

Is that a fact?

Yes, that's a fact. I can't prove that god doesn't exist just as I can't prove that that in the center of the planet XXXYYY, circling alpha centauri, little green men don't exist.
Conversely, employing various scientific tools, we can prove the existence of various objects in nature, such as the planets, electrons etc. However, the same scientific scrutiny would fail to prove prove god's existence. That is the logical benchmark -- can the object of your experiment be proven scientificaly and is the data falsifiable.

Abe said...

>>>If scientists do invent a lung, all it will porve is that intelligent people can make a lung. That wouldn't prove evolution could do it.

I didn't say evolution would have done it. I simply said that if scientists were to create a device that would function like a natural lung, god's creative grandeur would be suspect since men accomplished the same result.

jewish philosopher said...

"god's creative grandeur would be suspect since men accomplished the same result"

First of all, men are not even close to building a lung, or even any other organ equally as good as the original. In fact, even the idea of building one single bacterium from the basic chemicals is astronomically beyond any current science.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3214/01-collins.html

Besides that, since the lungs you are presently using were made by God, you owe Him some gratitude.

Abe said...

>>>First of all, men are not even close to building a lung, or even any other organ equally as good as the original. In fact, even the idea of building one single bacterium from the basic chemicals is astronomically beyond any current science.

Those sentiments are similar to the myopic ruminations of those who couldn't envisage wireless voice transmission in the 18th century or heart transplants in the 19th century.
Actualy scientists are very close to creating a living bacterium from inert chemicals:

Published: NY Times January 24, 2008
Taking a significant step toward the creation of man-made forms of life, researchers reported Thursday that they had manufactured the entire genome of a bacterium by painstakingly stitching together its chemical components.... The feat is a watershed for the emerging field called synthetic biology, which involves the design of organisms to perform particular tasks, such as making biofuels. Synthetic biologists envision being able one day to design an organism on a computer, press the “print” button to have the necessary DNA made, and then put that DNA into a cell to produce a custom-made creature. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/24/science/24cnd-genome.html


>>>Besides that, since the lungs you are presently using were made by God, you owe Him some gratitude.

When god knocks on my door, with you standing by his side, and tells me personaly that I owe him gratitude, I'll be more than happy to sacrifice my first-born to assauge any blood lust that he might inspire in you.
Until his existence is more easily discernable, I think that I'll remain faithful to Bacchus, the god of wine and intoxication. At least he'll leaves me with only a warm glow, rather than an indoctrinated desire to kill my only son.
Cheers and lechayim !

Alex said...

Abe, I think that if I came over to your house, I think that we can prove to ourselves with incredible satisfaction that there are no giraffes hiding in your house.
Proving a negative...

jewish philosopher said...

"Taking a significant step toward the creation of man-made forms of life"

If you read the article, you'll notice that it's merely talking about genetic engineering, not artificial life. Artificial bacteria are still a distant dream which may never be realized and a lung is astronomically more complex than a bacterium.

"When god knocks on my door"

He is, but you're too drunk too notice.