He also concludes that while the Jewish and astrological weeks evolved independently, they were eventually joined together by the power of the church (pages 25-26).
The seven day rhythm
Since the seven-day cycle is not a naturally occurring event in our external environment, can culture alone explain how the whole world beats to a rhythm of seven? Tracking the development of the seven-day week in human events has been a far easier task for historians than explaining how the cycle originated in the first place. Researchers have only two choices, either that the week is a cultural or religious invention of unknown date evolving over time OR have faith that God made it when he created everything. It comes as no surprise that most modern historians reject the biblical answer, and spend their time documenting the first answer. Recent discoveries revealing innate body rhythms of about seven days now call the first answer into question.
The science of chronobiology (the study of how living things handle time) has uncovered some unexpected facts about living things. Weekly rhythms, known as circaseptan rhythms, are one of the most puzzling and fascinating findings of chronobiology. Circaseptan literally means "about seven." Daily and seasonal cycles appear connected to the moon. However, what is there in nature that would have caused weekly rhythms to evolve?
"At first glance, it might seem that weekly rhythms developed in response to the seven day week imposed by human culture thousands of years ago. However, this theory does not hold once you realize that plants, insects, and animals other than humans also have weekly cycles. . . . Biology, therefore, not culture, is probably at the source of our seven day week." (Susan Perry and Jim Dawson, The Secrets Our Body Clocks Reveal, 1988, pp. 20-21)
Humankind has always been aware of rhythms. We live with daily rhythms of tides, light, and darkness, monthly rhythms of the moon, seasonal rhythms of birth, growth, harvest, etc. etc. We have also cycles in our bodies that interact with those around us such as our daily sleep rhythms, daily temperature and blood pressure fluctuations, and the menstrual cycle that follows the lunar cycle.
Franz Halberg, founder of modern chronobiology, began his experiments in the 1940s and now heads the Chronobiology Laboratories at the University of Minnesota. He offers us the following:
"Chronobiology is the eminently interdisciplinary science of interactions in time among metabolic, hormonal, and neuronal networks. It involves anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, physiology, and pharmacology, at the molecular, intracellular, intercellular, and still higher levels of organization. The compounds coordinating a time structure -- proteins, steroids, and amino-acid derivatives -- provide for the scheduling of interactions among membrane, cytoplasmic, and nuclear events in a network involving rhythmic enzyme reactions and other intracellular mechanisms." (Franz Halberg, "Quo Vadis Basic and Clinical Chronobiology: Promise for Health Maintenance," American Journal of Anatomy 168:543-594 (1983), p. 545.).
There are five major rhythms that beat in our bodies to insure our health and happiness (see chart below). The daily or circadian rhythm is the easiest to detect and measure. We are born with our own set of circadian rhythms that in time synchronize with our environment. Our rhythms vary slightly from individual to individual and they usually shorten as we age. For some unknown reason, women tend to have shorter circadian cycles than men do.
Rhythms of the Body
|Type of Rhythm ||Length || ||Examples |
|Ultradian ||Less than |
| ||Heartbeat, 90 minute fluctuations in energy levels and attention span, Brain waves |
|Circadian ||About a day || ||Temperature, Blood Pressure, Sleep and Wake Cycle, Cell Division |
|Circaseptan ||About a week || ||Reject of organ transplants, Immune response to infections, Blood and Urine chemicals, Blood Pressure, Common Cold |
|Circatrigintan ||About a month || ||Menstrual cycle |
|Circannual ||About a year || ||Seasonal depression. Sexual drive. Susceptibility to some diseases |
The most intriguing of all biological rhythms are those set to a clock of about 7 days. In his chapter "The Importance of Time," Jeremy Campbell reports:
"These circaseptan, or about weekly, rhythms are one of the major surprises turned up by modern chronobiology. Fifteen years ago, few scientists would have expected that seven day biological cycles would prove to be so widespread and so long established in the living world. They are of very ancient origin, appearing in primitive one-celled organisms, and are thought to be present even in bacteria, the simplest form of life now existing." (Jeremy Campbell, p. 75.).
One of Franz Halberg's amazing discoveries is that of an innate rhythm -- about 7 days -- occurring in a giant alga some five million years old on the evolutionary time line. Because this microscopic cell resembles a graceful champagne glass, the alga (plant) name refers to as mermaid's wineglass. When this "primitive" alga is subjected to artificial schedules of alternating light and dark spans of varying length over many days, this single intact cell is somehow able to translate all that manipulation of light and darkness into the measurement of a seven-day week! As Campbell says, this inherent rhythm has to do with the internal logic of the body, not with the external logic of the world.
If the seven-day week is an invention of culture and religion, how do we explain innate circaseptan rhythms in "primitive" algae, animals and plants?
The internal clock
What is our internal seven-day clock? Chronobiology has found the answer as Campbell explains:
"A particular function of the body may have a spectrum of rhythms with a dominant frequency that is very different from the dominant frequency of the spectrum of rhythms in another function, perhaps widely separated in space. Yet no matter which frequency component is the primary one in any given function, all rhythmic systems of the body probably possess an innate circaseptan frequency so that when they cooperate to perform a specific task which is body-wide, say, an immune reaction, the reaction occurs on a weekly schedule." (Campbell, p. 133)
Perry and Dawson note that,
"Weekly rhythms appear easiest to detect when the body is under stress, such as when it is defending itself against a virus, bacterium, or other harmful intruder. For example, cold symptoms (which are really signs of the body defending itself against the cold virus) last about a week. Chickenpox symptoms (a high fever and small red spots) usually appear almost exactly two weeks after exposure to the illness" (Susan Perry and Jim Davson, The Secrets Our Body Clocks Reveal, 1988) p. 22.)
Chronobiology's pioneer, Dr. Franz Halberg, made another startling discovery -- a three and a half day, or circasemiseptan harmonic of the circaseptan (seven day) frequency. This phenomenon seems to occur when the living organism is under extreme attack or critically altered. When the giant one celled alga "mermaid's wineglass" had its nucleus removed, it doubled its seven-day frequency to one of about three and a half days. (Franz Halberg, "Quo Vadis Basic and Clinical Chronobiology: Promise for Health Maintenance," American Journal of Anatomy 168:543-594 (1983), pp. 569-570.). He has also found that when cancer strikes humans our circaseptan frequency doubles to its circasemiseptan harmonic. Campbell believes there must be a reason:
"Circaseptan and circasemiseptan rhythms are not arbitrary, even though they seem to lack counterpart rhythms in the external environment." Dr. Halberg calls the move to a three and a half day harmonic of seven a "spectral compromise . . . the system does its own reshuffling" (Campbell, p. 132.).
The deeper we investigate the inner workings of life, an even more complex, intricate and marvelous display of design begins to appear. Out of the mind-numbing complexity of life, a certain organizing rhythm starts to surface. The millions of living parts begin to respond to a rhythmic resonance broadcast on certain set frequencies. These parts innately know to tune their receivers to the proper sympathetically vibrating frequency -- their beat. Just as we tune our radios and music suddenly springs to life, every living cell has imbedded in its primal genetic material a rhythm, a clock, a beat, a frequency, a resonance that helps it get in sync to live and function as designed.
"In Franz Halberg's view," summarizes Campbell:
"A central feature of biological time structure is the harmonic relationship that exists among the various component frequencies. A striking aspect of this relationship is that the components themselves appear to be harmonics or sub harmonics, multiples or submultiples, of seven, a number that has played a disproportionately large role in human culture, myth, religion, magic and the calendar" (Campbell, p. 130.).
How did seven come imbedded deep into the ancient genetic building blocks of life?
Why are cycles in all life forms?
We have seen that the cultural and religious model does not sufficiently explain why humans organize their activity around a seven-day weekly cycle -- a rhythm divorced from the environment. The biological model buttressed by the recent discoveries of circaseptan rhythms in life forms "millions" of years older than ancient Israel, clearly puts biology before culture. The further uncovering of circaseptans in plants and animals leaves the cultural model relevant only to humans, and then after the fact. However, the biological model, while having the evidence for the "very ancient origin" of circaseptans, still does not have an answer for why the number seven. In addition, why is it in "primitive" one-celled organisms, in bacteria? Why is it in all life forms?
Is this not compelling evidence for a common beginning, for common design, for a common designer who could so powerfully program his creation to a cycle he set in motion, to a rhythm tuned to his own activity of work and rest?
God, creation and the number seven
In the first six days of evenings and mornings, the Creator established orbits of all the heavenly bodies, cycles and seasons. He prepared the earth to receive living things.
"And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him. He created them male and female . . . And God saw everything that He had made, and indeed, it was exceedingly good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." (Genesis 1:27, 31, Holy Bible in Its Original Order - A Faithful Version (HBFV) throughout unless noted)
God's work was now over, but the week was not. What our English Bibles call Genesis 2:1-4 should be the conclusion, the apex of chapter one:
"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And by the beginning of the seventh day God finished His work which He had made. And He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because on it He rested? from all His work which God had created and made. This is the account of the heavens and of the earth when they were created; in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens . . . " (Genesis 2:1-4)
His last act in the creation week was to rest and make holy the seventh day as a memorial to his creation. He closed the cycle of creation at seven days and set the clock of time moving forward to this day. Each living thing made testifies of brilliant design, of divine craftsmanship, of marvelous function, of intricate interactions with the environment and other life forms, of mystery, of beauty. Even man marvels in awe when he beholds himself:
"For You have possessed my reins; You have knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am awesomely and wonderfully made; Your works are marvelous and my soul knows it very well." (Psalm 139:13-14).
The fingerprints of a divine creator cover his creation. Not only did the Designer and Creator leave his fingerprints on everything he made, he left his calling card bonded to living cells telling us when he made life: in a 7-day creation week. That is when he wound up the clock of life and set it ticking in each of its forms to a rhythm of sevens. The more we look at creation and life’s miracle, the more we have to conclude with the psalmist that only a fool says that God does not exist (Psalm 14:1). Paul says the same thing in the book of Romans.
"Because that which may be known of God is manifest among them, for God has manifested it to them; For the invisible things of Him are perceived from the creation of the world, being understood by the things that were made - both His eternal power and Godhead - so that they are without excuse;" (Romans 1:19-20)
Is there some information about the divine nature contained in the creation week that mankind and even Christianity has missed? Is there knowledge to discover in the seventh-day Sabbath that can help humans become of the same mind as their Creator? Is there important data to discover that can put us in harmony with the Divine Nature?
Rhythms of sevens
The science of chronobiology teamed with the resolving power of computers recently discovered -- much to everyone's surprise -- innate seven-day (circaseptan) cycles in a wide variety of life forms, including humans. Clearly, the 7-day cycle is not a cultural or religious invention. Rather, we can now say these four things about the rhythm of seven:
It is of "very ancient" biological origin
It is independent from environmental cycles of sun, moon and stars
It is imbedded in all living cells and in short
It is the beat to which all life is tuned
Getting in sync with God
Physicists labor to measure the rhythms, movements, orbits, and energy of stars and galaxies in the hope of seeing back in time to the very origins of the universe -- to its creation, the "big bang." Astronomers look heavenward with ever-deepening penetration searching to find clues to the creation of the universe. Steven Hawking has this insight:
"With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it started -- it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off." (Hawking, p. 140-141).
God did "wind up the clockwork" leaving his fingerprints all over the clock. He somehow coded into the infinite complexities of life a clock that ticks to the time of a seven day rhythm. We humans have no control over these innate circaseptan rhythms and benefit best by simply living in sympathetic harmony with them. More importantly, the seven day cycle in physical nature points beyond temporal reality to a far greater spiritual reality.
God uses time itself and a seventh day rest to call his creation to pause and listen. His personal message introduces himself to us and gives us a special relationship to himself by declaring we are in his image. How could we refuse such an invitation? My friends, it is time we get in sync with God.