A Perfect Army Set on its Goal
Think of an immense army composed of millions of soldiers. They are advancing toward a common target, they encounter obstacles on the way and find themselves in mortal danger, but in spite of all these difficulties the army does not give up. The space these soldiers must traverse in order to reach their target is one hundred thousand times larger than they are themselves. Of course, such a crowded army setting out on such a difficult road will need guides and equipment to help them reach their goal.
This huge army with 300 million soldiers is inside the male body. The soldiers are the sperm. Each one is about one hundredth of a millimetre in size. Their target is to reach the egg cell, and to do this, they must travel a very long road.
Of the 300 million sperm cells that set out on the road together, only the strongest one thousand will succeed in reaching the egg. Out of these only one single sperm will win the race and fertilise the egg. Before entering this race, the sperm first set out on a long journey within the male reproductive organs, passing through various stages on their way to maturity. In this maturing process, the sperm have many helpers.
The Sperm's Developmental Pathway
In order to fertilise an egg, about 200-300 million sperm cells are made ready for the journey. This is a surprising number, but there is an important reason for it. As we will see in more detail later, a great number of the sperm that enter the mother-to-be's body die on the way and the number of sperm which are able to reach the egg is very small. Therefore, the great number of sperm obviates the risk of the fertilisation of the egg not being successful. This army of millions of individual sperm is produced in the male reproductive organs called the testes. The sperm go through many stages in their production in the testes and, in order for them to survive, the place where they are produced must be cool. The normal human body temperature is 37oC. This temperature would kill the sperm, therefore sperm cannot live inside the body. One of the most noticeable characteristics of the testes is that they are outside the body. Because of this special design according to which God created the male body, the sperm have a specially prepared place for their production.
The testes are composed of a system of small tubes. This system of tubes occupies quite a large space, which allows millions of sperm to be produced quickly and in a place where they can be easily stored. The reason that sperm must be quickly produced and stored is understandable when we consider that, for an egg to be fertilised, 200-300 million sperm must be produced.
When we think about the number of sperm produced, we can call the testes miniature factories. For sperm production they have almost 1000 small tubes with a total length of approximately 500 meters. These small tubes are called the "seminiferous tubules". Each one of them is about 50 cm. long and contains the primary sperm cells that eventually produce the sperm.3
Seminiferous tubules are lined with sperm-forming cells (spermatogonia) in various stages of development. Later, these cells begin to multiply, first by undergoing mitosis and then twice undergoing meiosis. As we explained in the last section, before fertilisation, the primary sperm cell undergoes division by meiosis and lowers by half the number of its own chromosomes, so that the baby will receive 23 chromosomes from the father.
At the end of these divisions, four cells called spermatids are formed which as yet have no ability to fertilise an egg. In order for these spherical cells containing 23 chromosomes, to be able to perform their fertilising function, they must go through further changes.
A group of cells has been put in place to respond to this special need of the male reproductive system and to assist the development of the spermatid cells at precisely the right time. Within two or three weeks after meiosis has occurred, every spermatid cell will be physically transformed by these "nurse" cells (Sertoli cells) which surround them. Sertoli cells function to support and nourish the immature sperm cells by giving them nutrient material, hormones, and enzymes that are necessary for causing appropriate changes in the spermatids.4 In the final stage of this process, the qualities proper to a fully developed sperm emerge the tail, the head and the acrosome, that part of the head which is filled with enzymes. (For detailed information see the section entitled "The Sperm Meets the Egg")
All this work of transformation is performed by the Sertoli cells found within the walls of the tubules. These cells have cytoplasmic extensions and are quite large. The Sertoli cells hold the developing spermatid cells firmly in their arms, assuring that they are well injected into their own cytoplasm. In this way, they will provide them with nourishment during their development, and monitor them.5
In this process which we have briefly described, a really great miracle occurs. The sperm which assures the continuation of the human race is brought into being, thanks to Sertoli cells, which are made up of proteins and nucleic acids. Let's think for a moment. The fact that a Sertoli cell, rather a cell without intelligence or consciousness and without eyes, ears or a brain, can devote itself to such a duty is truly a wonder. The fact that such a thing occurs is clear proof that the cell is under the direction of a supreme intelligence. Moreover, that these cells are exactly at the proper place, (that is, in the seminiferous tubules where the sperm develop,) and that they have exactly the requisite qualities (for example, they are larger than the spermatids) is one of the millions of proofs of the perfect design of the human body. God has placed every one of the approximately 100 trillion cells that make up the human body in its proper place; He has given to each one the qualities it needs; and He has given each one the instinct to do its work perfectly. As we are told in the Qur'an; ... There is no creature He does not hold by the forelock. My Lord is on a Straight Path. (Qur'an, 11: 56)
An Interdependent System
In the preceding section we spoke about the role of the Sertoli cells in the transformation of the spermatids into the sperm. What is the physical force that activates these cells and makes them know their duty to nourish the spermatids and monitor their development?
The impetus which makes the Sertoli cells perform their function comes from the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which was mentioned in the earlier section. This hormone is secreted from the anterior pituitary gland and stimulates the Sertoli cells. If this hormone is not produced or fails to reach the relevant area, sperm cannot be produced. When the Sertoli cells receive the stimulation, they begin to secrete a hormone called oestrogen, which is indispensable for sperm production. Another kind of cell that influences sperm production is called the "Leydig" cell; it is found between the seminiferous tubules. These cells produce another hormone required for sperm to develop. The LH (luteinizing hormone) is secreted from the anterior pituitary gland and stimulates the Leydig cells. Then, these cells begin to produce the testosterone hormone. Testosterone is the hormone which assures the growth of the reproductive organs, the development of various glands of these organs and the development of the male sexual characteristics; it is, moreover, the most important hormone in the production of sperm.
The Sertoli cells have additional functions such as protein production. This protein will carry the oestrogen and testosterone hormones to a fluid found in the seminiferous tubules.6
And the Leydig cells also have a second function. In order for the sperm cells to move, they require energy; the Leydig cells supply this energy by the fructose they produce. (This important topic will be dealt with in more detail later.)
As we can see, as in other parts of the body, the hormonal system also performs in a perfectly organized fashion in the reproductive system. Every hormone immediately understands the message carried by another and responds as required. For example, the pituitary gland, when it knows the time is right, goes into action and sends commands to various cells in the testes informing them of the job they must do in the organs and tissues. Moreover, what stimulates the pituitary gland into activity is a different area of the brain called the hypothalamus.
The first stage of the formation of a human being is concerned with the correct understanding of the messages hormones carry and with the proper execution of the commands. How do cells and molecules discern and react to messages carried by hormones? How do they know the chemical make-up of each one and what methods must be employed to affect them?
The fact that, in order to support the production of sperm, the Sertoli and Leydig cells go into action at the command of the pituitary gland (a gland very distant from them, which they have never seen and which has a totally different structure from their own) combined with the fact these cells would not perform any function at all without these commands, makes it impossible to explain their activity in terms of chance. It is impossible that hormones have gained their special characteristics as a result of a series of chance occurrences, because a severance or an interruption during one stage of the system will influence a whole chain of processes. If one element in the system is defective, the functioning of the whole system is impaired. For example, if the Sertoli cell does not know the meaning of the FSH hormone sent by the pituitary gland and does not begin to secrete oestrogen, sperm cannot be produced. Or, if the Leydig cells cannot perform their function to provide fructose, or if they produce it in insufficient quantities, a sperm, even if it is mature in every way, will die after entering the mother's uterus because it cannot find nourishment; and because it cannot reach the egg, fertilisation will not occur.
This situation shows us a clear reality. The One Who has established the connections between the organs and the cells is God. He has inspired the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus, the Leydig and Sertoli cells, in short, every element involved in the process, to act in a way that will assure the production of sperm in the male body. He gives them the ability to understand each other's language. Everything happens according to God's command. As we read in the Qur'an:Egg,
He governs all, from heaven to earth... (Qur'an, 32: 5)
Other Structures that Help the Sperm Reach its Target
Another element of the reproductive system called the "epididymis" helps the developing sperm cells acquire the ability to move and fertilise the egg. The epididymis is loosely attached to the outside of the testes; it is a coiled tube of about 6 meters. Before beginning this part of their journey, some sperm are stored for a while in the epididymis. The sperm then move toward a connective tube, the "vas deferens", a long tube that ascends from the epididymis in the pelvic cavity. The sperm can be stored in this tube for a long time without losing their ability to fertilise an egg, and when the time comes, the sperm leaves the vas deferens and begins the long journey to the egg cell in the female body.7
In order for the sperm to be able to begin the function of fertilisation, they need other helpers to supply what is required on this difficult journey and to give the support they need to survive. One of these helpers is the prostate gland. In addition, there are two secretion glands called the "seminal vesicles" located on each side of the prostate. These glands begin their work of producing special fluids to accompany the sperm on their journey, when the production of the sperm is complete.
A fluid secreted from the prostate gland joins the sperm on their way. This fluid is composed of citric acid, calcium and acid phosphate, a clotting enzyme and a profibrinolysin. In the female reproductive organs there is a thick mixture of acids which prevents the proliferation of bacteria. Besides curtailing the ability of the sperm to move, this acid mixture can kill them, but the prostate fluid neutralizes the effect of the acid, thus allowing the sperm to swim easily toward the egg.
Here it is useful to pause and think for a moment. The prostate gland in the male reproductive system acts with knowledge of the environment of the female body. It knows that the sperm will encounter an acidic environment in the course of their journey and that they will not be able to survive in that environment. Moreover, it can determine how to overcome this danger and produce the fluid required to do it. There is no doubt that here we have to do with a miracle. It is impossible to say that a secretory gland in the male body knows another structure unconnected with itself, and, acting according to this knowledge, makes decisions and carries them out. Just think: not even a human being with conscious intelligence and the ability to hear and see, calculate, decide on a course of action and arrive at a solution, could foresee what kinds of danger exist in a totally alien environment and take measures in relation to them. But the prostate gland, a piece of flesh composed of cells, can manage this. It is in no way possible to claim that it is the prostate gland that makes such vital decisions and implements them. It is God Who has inspired this gland to perform its function; it is He Who has created every square millimetre of the male reproductive system and of the female body.
Moreover, the prostate gland is not the only gland that produces what is required in the male reproductive system for the journey of the sperm. The fluid secreted by the seminal vesicles located beside the prostate gland is indispensable for this journey. Shortly after the sperm have started on their way, this fluid joins them to help them reach the end of their difficult journey. This fluid contains an abundance of fructose and other nutrient substances as well as large quantities of "prostaglandins" and "fibrinogen". The fructose and other nourishment sustains the sperm from the time it enters the female body to the time it fertilises the egg. In addition, the "prostaglandin" in this fluid helps the sperm to reach the egg in other different ways. One of the functions of prostaglandin is to react with the mucous in the uterus channel and provide a suitable environment for the movement of the sperm. A second function is to cause reverse contractions in the uterus and fallopian tubes to allow the sperm to move more easily.
At this point it is again obvious that we are confronted with a very great wonder. The fluid secreted by the seminal vesicles perfectly knows the intricate structure of the female body which it has never seen. It knows in advance that the reverse contractions in the uterus and fallopian tubes will help the movement of the sperm and, acting with a high degree of foresight, it adds a chemical material (prostaglandin) to its own make-up that will bring about these contractions. Think of asking any chemist to produce such a reaction; what would he do?
First he would examine the sperm, its structure and the requirements for fertilisation to occur. Later he would try to learn about the female body, its hormones, the egg, the fallopian tubes which carry the egg to the uterus, the uterus, the tissues of the uterus, the nerve system that causes the contractions and many other details. Then, combining his years of education and experience he will discover the material substances which exert an influence on these things; he will take them, and by way of experiment and research he will find out in what proportions these substances must be combined. A human being possessed of consciousness may perhaps be able to do this with a lot of devoted and time-consuming effort.
However, what accomplishes these things is not a chemist who has become an expert in this field after years of study. It is cells, tissues and organs produced by unconscious atoms and molecules. All the same, it is not possible to assert that this collection of cells has a higher intelligence and a greater knowledge than a chemist, or that they perform these functions at the bidding of their own will.
There is no doubt that this fluid produced in the male reproductive system and designed in such a way as to influence the female reproductive system, together with the cells, tissues and organs that produce it are a clear proof of God's creation.
It is evident that this whole interrelated system cannot be the work of chance. A person of intelligence and conscience will immediately grasp that these wondrous occurrences that happen flawlessly in the bodies of every human being that has ever lived are the work of a supreme intelligence and an eternal power, and he will serve God, to Whom alone belongs this eternal intelligence and power.
O mankind! Have fear of your Lord Who created you from a single self and created its mate from it and then disseminated many men and women from the two of them. Heed God in Whose name you make demands on one another as well as any ties of kinship. God watches over you continually. (Qur'an, 4: 1)
A Fluid with a Complex Structure: Semen
When the sperm begins its journey, the prostate gland secretes a fluid and immediately afterwards another fluid comes from the seminal vesicles; they join the sperm and semen is produced. All together they travel towards the mother's body. As we described earlier in detail, the function of these fluids is to have the nourishment ready to provide the energy that the sperm need, and particularly to neutralize the acids at the entrance to the mother's uterus, making an environment in which the sperm can move more easily.
The whole of this fluid which is ejected from the male body for the process of fertilisation is called semen. 10% of it comes from the sperm canals, 60% from the seminal vesicles, 30% from the prostate gland and the rest is sperm cells and a small quantity of fluids from other secretory glands.8That is, what we call semen is a complex combination of fructose, phosphorylcholine, ergothioneine, ascorbic acid, flavins, prostaglandins, citric acid, cholesterol, zinc, acid phosphatase, lactic acid, fibrinolytic and proteolytic enzymes, hyaluronidase and sperm.9 We have before our eyes a wonder that God has revealed in the Qur'an.
In many places in the Qur'an God calls attention to human creation and commands us to think about this matter. Scientists who have investigated these verses of the Qur'an have discovered that a number of wonders of the Qur'an are hidden in those verses that give information about human creation. For example, it has been discovered in research done with the help of modern scientific technology that semen is composed of a mixture of different substances. But this information was made known in the Qur'an 1400 years ago. Semen is described as a "mingled" drop in the Qur'an:
We created man from a mingled drop to test him, and We made him hearing and seeing. (Qur'an, 76: 2)
Of the components which make up this fluid, only one sperm fertilises the egg. A large number of people think that the semen as a whole does the fertilising; however, only a small part of the semen, a sperm, does this. That is, a human being comes into being not from the semen as a whole, but from a small part of it (the sperm).
In the course of sexual union, along with the semen, about 250-300 million sperm are ejaculated from the male. But out of millions of sperm, only about 1000 manage to reach the egg and of these 1000, the egg will only receive one. That is, the essence of a human being is not contained in the semen as a whole, but just in a small part of it. This fact, about which many people either have no knowledge or are misinformed even today, was revealed in the Qur'an 1,400 years ago. The Qur'an explains this reality in these words:
Does man reckon he will be left to go on unchecked? Was he not a drop of ejaculated sperm? (Qur'an, 75: 36-37)
In another verse, it is indicated again that semen is a mixture and humanity is created out of the "extract" of this mixture.
He has created all things in the best possible way. He commenced the creation of man from clay; then produced his seed from an extract of discarded fluid. (Qur'an, 32: 7-8)
If we examine the meaning of the Arabic in this verse, it becomes clear that we are confronted with a wonder of the Qur'an. The English word "extract" translates the Arabic "sulala"; and means the essence or the best part of a thing. By either implication, it is "a part of a whole". This shows clearly that the Qur'an is the word of a Will that knows about human creation down to the finest detail. This Will belongs to God, the Creator of human beings.
Final Preparations Under Way...
Now the general appearance of the sperm, supported by the fluids in the semen, has become evident. Every part of the sperm the head, the neck, the midpeace, the tail and the end piece all have their separate functions. The nucleus (the head section) is no larger than 5 microns. In this 5 micron space has been placed all the information relevant to the human body and required to turn one cell into a human being. In the head of the sperm is a genetic package of 23 chromosomes which will be carried to the egg. That is, in the head of the microscopic sperm cell has been safely packed the information about how all the organs of the human body will work, where they will be located, at which stage which cells will begin to develop and change, in short, all the information about how the human body will be constructed.
Along with the genetic information, the head of the sperm has another special feature. For example, in the "acrosome", the name given to the outer protective layer of the head, there are substances which will help the sperm in the final stages of its journey. These are enzymes which can dissolve tissues. Using these enzymes, the sperm will be able to pierce the egg and enter it during the process of fertilisation.10 (see "The Sperm and the Egg Meet")
The second most important part of the sperm is the tail, which allows it to swim easily in a fluid environment. The sperm's tail determines the direction in which it will swim and helps it to reach the egg cell. So far so good. But how does this tail supply the energy needed for the sperm's continual whip-like movements? The energy needs of the sperm are supplied in a wonderful way. The body of the tail is a fuel depot, which supplies energy throughout the journey. On the long road until it reaches the egg, the sperm's need for energy is met by the mitochondria found in this section. Using the energy carriers in the neck of the sperm, the mitochondria supply ATP energy, which allows the sperm to move easily.11
As we can see, in all of its aspects the sperm displays a perfect design. Without the tail, the sperm would not be able to move; without the mitochondira in the midpeace, energy could not be produced and again, there could be no movement. If the head section of the sperm were structurally perfect except for a missing acrosome, the required enzymes would not be produced and there would no longer be any purpose in the sperm reaching the egg; it would not be able to penetrate the egg cell and fertilise it.
Therefore, the sperm cannot have acquired all these features by stages in the course of time as the theory of evolution claims. When the first human being appeared in the world, the sperm must have contained all these features. Since it would be impossible for the sperm to perform its fertilising function with a deficiency in any one of these features, and if, as the evolutionists claim, there had been sperm in the past that did not possess all of these features, human beings would not have multiplied; they would have been wiped off the face of the earth. This shows that sperm came to be in one moment with their perfect structure; that is, it demonstrates the fact of creation. The Creator of the perfect design of the sperm is God, the Creator of everything.
Systems Created for Each Other
When the sperm leave the male body in the semen, they are not completely ready to fertilise the egg. Until they leave the male body, their movement is controlled by basic secretions in the area where they are stored. For this reason, when the semen is first formed and reaches the female body, the sperm cannot perform their fertilising function. How, then does it come about that the sperm, when separated from the male reproductive system, acquire the ability to fertilise the egg?
In order for the process of fertilisation to be facilitated, a number of systems in the female body must be made ready. At this point, some fluids secreted in the female reproductive system come to the help of the sperm by increasing the sperm's ability to fertilise the egg. These are some of the changes that take place in the sperm after they reach the female body:
1. The fluids secreted in the woman's uterus and fallopian tubes contain a chemical that destroys those factors that retard the movements of the sperm in the male reproductive tract. In this way, the movement of the sperm that reach the female reproductive tract is increased.
2. The fluids in the male reproductive tract (seminiferous tubules, in the epididymis, and in the vas deferens) all contain a high level of cholesterol. The cholesterol is continually donated to the cellular membrane covering the acrosome, toughening this membrane and preventing release of the enzymes prematurely. But from the point of view of the sperm's ability to fertilise the egg, this particularity is detrimental. For this reason, the sperm which pass into the female body must be rescued from its effects. As in the millions of details in the stages of human reproduction, a special system has also been prepared for this purpose. The sperm, which enter the female body later join the fluid in the uterus. And this fluid reduces the level of cholesterol contained in the semen, which also contains the sperm, thereby making the head of the sperm (acrosome) more fragile. So, when the sperm reaches the egg, the enzymes inside the acrosome can come out easily and will assure the fertilisation of the egg by their penetration of the egg membrane.
3. The permeability of the membrane in the head of the sperm which enters the female body increases in relation to calcium ions. With the entrance of a great quantity of calcium into the sperm cell, the movement of the sperm increases. The whip-like tail (flagellum) which causes the movement of the sperm changes its former weak undulations and begins to make strong movements, thereby facilitating its ability to reach the egg.12
Without doubt, for those who think carefully, there are very important indications to be found in the creation of the sperm in such a way as to be so harmonious and complementary to the female body. The fact that the sperm and the female body cooperate to bring about the same miracle, independently of each other, is indicative of a great conscious intelligence. The sperm, before entering the female body and while they are still in the male body, take measures to produce what is required to correct their deficiencies that might create problems for them in the female body. A special environment is prepared in the female body to increase the movement of a single sperm that is even too small to be seen by the naked eye. It is as if the female body knew that the sperm's journey would be very long and that it would need energy to complete it quickly; it is as if it knew what kind of chemical composition would penetrate the egg, guessed that the sperm had deficiencies in this regard and determined that cholesterol was the cause of them, and then produced something to neutralize the cholesterol, thus producing an environment in which the egg could most easily be penetrated. And it would do all of this on its own!
It should be remembered that what is summarized above is merely a small part of the steps from the sperm's entrance into the body to the fertilisation of the egg. These steps are completed as a result of thousands of ever more complex chemical reactions in which several proteins, enzymes and fluids are also involved. But it is especially important to remember that it is not our intention here in enumerating these details simply to impart scientific knowledge; our intention is to point out the truth that, contrary to what the evolutionists claim, the formation of a human being is too complex ever to have been the product of blind chance: it is the result rather of the flawless operation of complementary, interdependent and intricate systems. It is not possible for a human being, or even one single enzyme or molecule that activates the sperm, to come into being by chance.
On this point we have talked about how a sperm cell produced in the male body acquires the ability to fertilise an egg with the help of chemical substances in the female body. Now let's pause and think: Could such a complex system come into being in stages by chance as the theory of evolution claims? Certainly, such a thing is impossible, but once more let us consider such a scenario.
A sperm produced by chance in the male body first comes into contact with a female body. Would it, as a matter of chance, find the fluids that allow the sperm to acquire its ability to fertilise, all ready and waiting for it? If not, upon the failure of the first sperm reaching the female reproductive system to perform its fertilisation function, would the female reproductive cells make a decision and begin to produce the required chemical substances?
It is beyond doubt that these two examples do not accord well with logic or intelligence; they are scenarios that could never happen. In the examples we have given on this point, one truth confronts us: all these systems are each a proof of the endless knowledge and power of God Who created everything. God has created in the depths of the human body wonders that are too small for the eye to see and beyond the capacity of the human mind to comprehend. By this, He points out that there are proofs for faith that occur in the body, which are totally independent of human will and knowledge. And He reminds us that His dominion is over everything, including human beings themselves.
Truly, your Lord is vast in forgiveness. He knew you well when He created you of earth, and when you were embryos in your mothers' wombs. So do not claim purity for yourselves. He knows best those who guard themselves against evil. (Qur'an, 53: 32)
3 Guyton&Hall, Tıbbi Fizyoloji, Nobel Tıp Kitabevleri, İstanbul, 1996, 9. baskı, s. 1003
4 Guyton&Hall, Human Physiology and Mechanisms of Disease, 6. baskı, 1997, ABD, s. 649
5 Guyton&Hall, Tıbbi Fizyoloji, Nobel Tıp Kitabevleri, İstanbul, 1996, 9. baskı, s. 1004
6 Guyton&Hall, Tıbbi Fizyoloji, Nobel Tıp Kitabevleri, İstanbul, 1996, 9. baskı, s. 1005
7 Vander, Sherman, Luciano, İnsan Fizyolojisi, Bilimsel ve Teknik Yayınları Çeviri Vakfı, 1994, s. 654
8 Guyton&Hall, Tıbbi Fizyoloji, Nobel Tıp Kitabevleri, İstanbul, 1996, 9. baskı, s. 1006
9 Prof. Dr. Ahmet Noyan, Yaşamda ve Hekimlikte Fizyoloji, Ankara, Mart 1998, 10. baskı, s. 1113
10 Guyton&Hall, Tıbbi Fizyoloji, Nobel Tıp Kitabevleri, İstanbul, 1996, 9. baskı, s. 1005
11 Guyton&Hall, Human Physiology and Mechanisms of Disease, 6. baskı, 1997, ABD, s. 12; Gerard J. Tortora, Introduction to the Human Body The Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology, Biological Science Textbooks, 1997, s. 527
12 Guyton&Hall, Tıbbi Fizyoloji, Nobel Tıp Kitabevleri, İstanbul, 1996, 9. baskı, s. 1007