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Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV



Part II: The Seed of the Woman

Chapter 19

The Life History Of The Seed Of The Woman

A very brief consideration
of the concept
the Continuity of the Germ Plasm
and its bearing
on the direct line relationship
between the First and the Last Adam.

This chapter can quite safely be by-passed by anyone who is becoming impatient with technical details and prefers to move on to the more strictly biblical aspects of this subject. However, I do not think the intelligent reader will have any difficulty with it and it does show how wonderfully the Lord prepared the way, in his design and creation of the reproductive mechanism, for the recovery of Adam's original constitution in the midst of a dying world.
    It may be helpful for those who are uninitiated in such matters to set forth in a generalized form which is admittedly very much oversimplified but nevertheless essentially correct, the life history of the ovum in one generation from the time of its fertilization until the time that it presents itself once again for fertilization to initiate the next generation.
    This will help to show perhaps why it is possible to speak of a true continuity of the germ plasm and in what way it is quite correct to credit the seed with immortality in a situation where the vehicle or carrier (the female body in this case) has a very limited life span. Like the amoeba, the seed has the potential for unending self-replication without

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experiencing death in the sense that no corpse need be left behind to make a break in the continuity of the germ plasm unless the germ plasm is actually destroyed by some external agency or circumstance.
     It is sometimes suggested that when the fertilized egg divides into two, it experiences a kind of death in that it is changed into something else. But I think Weismann's answer to this was effective.
(219) He observed that the ovum no more dies in becoming two ova at a certain stage in development than the boy dies in becoming a man at a certain stage of development. The fact is that the ovum, considered as a living organism (which indeed it is), need never experience death provided that it is induced to divide and multiply by successive divisions. This may happen in nature without fertilization, but normally it is the result of fertilization by a sperm. With this one condition fulfilled, the single ovum becomes another ovum one generation later in history and no corpse is left behind as evidence of its death. The two "daughter" cells in turn divide, if fertilized, and so the line goes on unbroken and can continue endlessly so long as accident does not terminate it. Fertilization of the ovum is really only a means for preserving its integrity until one generation later it is again released and presented for fertilization. And so it is simply passed on and on, generation after generation, in an unbroken chain of continuous life. The living ovum is the ovum of yesterday perpetuating itself not as a mother perpetuates herself in her daughter and then dies while the daughter lives on, but as a girl perpetuates herself by growing up into a woman without experiencing death in the process. Such a process does not constitute death but fulfillment.
     Now this can be set forth diagrammatically, granting much over-simplification, in such a way that these events can be visualized. First of all we allow a single black dot, (a) in Fig. 14, to signify the original fertilized ovum. At (b), cleavage has taken place and the ovum has become two ova. The original ovum has not "died," it has merely converted itself into two viable duplicates half the size of the original. This process of multiplication continues, until a change takes place (c) and further multiplication leads to the emergence of

219. Weismann, August, Essays Upon Heredity and Kindred Biological Problems, translated by E. B. Poulton, S. Schonland
and A. E. Shipley, Oxford University Press, 1889, vol.1, p.26.

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cells which by now differ in their constitution from the original ovum. These differentiated cells are shown from (c) to (e) as open circles. The undifferentiated cells which have not changed their constitution but have retained the full potential of the original ovum, although they are now considerably smaller, are still shown as black dots. From then on, the history of the two kinds of cells, the differentiated and the undifferentiated, follows a decidedly different course.
     In Fig. 15 the history of these cells is continued and the divergent end products of each group of cells is set forth diagrammatically by showing that the open circles become a separate entity, the body, while the black dots continue to replicate in a mass by themselves � outside the body of the embryo proper. This stage is therefore termed "extra-embryonic development."

     It should be understood that these germ cells really are multiplying outside the body of the developing embryo. Later, this mass of multiplying germ plasm cells will migrate by amoeboid movement from its position beside the life-support system of the embryo into the embryo itself. In the diagram the schematized growing embryo at (f) is shown with a kind of harbour facing towards the mass of germ plasm which is merely intended to indicate that there is an appropriate place being prepared to receive the germ plasm in due time as at (g). From this "harbour" (the ovary), one ovum at a time is released for potential fusion with a spermatozoon, as shown in Fig. 16 below.
     The mechanism governing the differentiation of the cells into germ cells and body cells appears to result not from any change in the nuclear content of the cells themselves but in some change in the surrounding cytoplasm in which the nucleus is immersed. The initial process of replication by which the fertilized ovum multiplies itself until it forms a mass of germ and body cells is called a morula, (e) of Fig. 14, results in a gradual reduction in the size of each of the

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multiplying cells which, though their number is greatly increased, actually still occupy very nearly the same total space as the original ovum. This is called cell cleavage. It is not what will happen later when cells divide and multiply, because from then on the total volume of the cells begins to increase and not merely the number of cells. In this later process each body cell grows larger and larger until it has approximately twice the volume it originally had, at which critical point an internal change occurs in the cell and it divides into two, each the size of the original cell before it began to grow. This process is referred to as cell division. The multiplication of cells from the initial fertilized ovum to the morula stage is therefore quite different from cell division. The distinction is necessary because at this earlier period in cell life history the cells divide into two without first gaining in size. Each cleavage therefore reduces the size of the cell but the number of cells steadily increases. The ovum which begins as the largest cell in the body keeps dividing until its size is very substantially reduced. Then later in its life when the individual reaches adolescence, and just before one of the germ cells is presented for fertilization by a sperm cell, it increases in size and regains its status once more as the largest cell in the body. This will be observed in Fig. 16 below.
     Now although the cell size decreases steadily from ovum to morula, the nucleus itself remains approximately the same size so that the ratio of cytoplasm to nuclear material steadily decreases. This means that a selection of the cytoplasm is being made with each subsequent cleavage, some of it being apportioned to one daughter cell and some to another. By this method the reduction in cell size can be achieved. Each successive cell during this process therefore receives not merely a different amount of cytoplasm but cytoplasm of a different constitution containing only a selection of the constituents in the parent cell as well as very probably a different internal organization. It is believed that this is what leads to progressive cell differentiation and therefore the growth, in due course, of specifically different tissues and the development of different organs within the body.

220. See Notes at the end of this chapter (page 6)

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     Identical genetic material in the nucleus then finds itself surrounded by a series of different intracellular environments, and the interaction between nucleus and cytoplasm initiates the cell specialization which the developing organism demands. The subdividing of the substance of the egg qualitatively is believed to be a sufficient cause for the initial establishment of different lines of cells, most of which are body or somatic cells and each of which will develop along different lines � even though the nuclear material in every cell is thought to retain all the characteristics of the original ovum. Any cell nucleus transferred to an enucleated ovum is found to have the totipotency of the initial ovum. Cell character is therefore not merely the result of the nuclear material but the interaction of this nuclear material and its associated cytoplasm, and this cytoplasm is in a continuous state of change during fetal development.
      In Fig. 16 we observe the final housing of the germ plasm. This in no way disturbs the integrity of the germ plasm itself which continues through certain stages of development that will prepare the individual germ cells for the time when they will be presented in the adult animal for subsequent fertilization. The important thing to bear in mind is that this reservoir of germ cells is given a safe haven within the fetus which, as far as is known at present, completely isolates the germ cells, thus preserving their integrity.

     In this Figure, one of the germ cells (h) is being ejected in enlarged form prior to being presented at the time of ovulation. At (a2) the cell has become an ovum and is now fertilized by the sperm. At (b2) the first cleavage has occurred and we are back at (b) of Fig.14 and about to begin another cycle of development.
And so generation after generation, the seed of the woman reiterates itself in its original form. Thus was preserved the continuity of the germ plasm from the first to the second Adam, from Eve to Mary. And just to keep the record straight, it has to be remembered that the process is still continuing. It did not stop with Mary.

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220. (See page 4) On this see a useful and readily accessible statement by R. L. Watterson, Chairman of Biological Sciences, Northwestern University, in the McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 1960, vol.III, p.168.
     Alfred Kuhn has much to say on this subject: "Only in the germ line through the first germ cell and all the way to mature gametes [the seeds of future generations, ACC] do the chromosomes retain their original integrity. A variety of observations show now that behaviour of the chromosomes depends on the cytoplasm region in which they are found during division. . .  Even the tiniest inequality within the cytoplasm reverberates back and forth, resulting in the most extreme disparities among the resulting cells" [emphasis mine] [Lecures in Developmental Physiology, translated by Roger Milkman, New York, Springer-Verlag, 1971, p.482, 483]. At reference #192 (see Part II, chapter 18) the reader will find part of his discussion on the importance of the ratio between cytoplasmic and nuclear material and the influence of cleavage upon this ratio. 

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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