Epic Sperm #2: Once more, with less personality

6 01 2011

Since my last post was pretty long, here’s a much shorter one communicating a similar point.

Another youtube fertilization video:

Once again, we have the story of sex and fertilization depicted as a kind of impersonal, epic quest, complete with  a dramatic soundtrack and bad CGI.

And once again, it communicates the dangers of an overly scientific worldview.  Yes, science is good.  Yes, in some ways it helps us to understand the world in which we live.  But would you really say that this (somewhat scientifically accurate) depiction of fertilization is telling us the “true” story of sex?

As Karl Stern says, “The scientist knows more about the rabbit than the painter, but the painter knows better about the rabbit than the scientist.”  In the same way, a video like this does give us accurate information about fertilization, but any fool knows that’s not the “truest” way to tell the story.

Similarly, any way that we would attempt to describe the role of gender and sexuality in our world that doesn’t account for mystery is going to be woefully inadequate.  As the Bible says:

There are three things that are too amazing for me,

Four that I do not understand:

The way of an eagle in the sky,

The way of a snake on a rock,

The way of a ship on the high seas,

And the way of a man with a maiden. (Proverbs 30:18-19)

It seems to me that the Bible acknowledges that there is something powerful about sex, and something about gender that is central to who we are… yet it spends very little time explaining the meaning behind these things.  And then here, tucked away near the end of Proverbs, is a verse telling us that the whole thing is really quite mysterious.  I find that this both frustrates and stokes my curiosity.

In one sense, the way this video (and the one from the last post) depicts sex and fertilization is very exciting!  But in another way, it’s horribly disappointing if we let ourselves believe that that’s the whole story.  I, for one, believe in mystery.

p.s. – 10 points to anyone who can tell me what the heck a sea urchin is doing inside of this woman’s fallopian tubes at 0:30.

There he is, back on the ocean floor where he belongs.

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