Indicators of an intelligent Creator stare at us from the microcosm to the macrocosm. Design features logically and rationally point to a designer. In the world of nature, from the very small to the very large, denial of multiple examples of design, and by extension the existence of a designer, would appear irrational. Affirmation of design has abundant rational support. I have mused about writers of scripture who seem insightful about the natural world. No, the Bible is not a science textbook. It is, rather, a textbook about God, His actions, and His purpose in this cosmos. But as a science teacher, some scripture passages cause me to reflect on what clearly seem to be scientific insights.
Colossians 1:17 contains fascinating propositions in the light of discoveries made in the past few centuries. In various translations, Colossians 1:17 is rendered, “He holds all things together” (NLT), “In Him all things hold together,” (NAS and NIV), and “He holds it all together right up to this moment” (The Message). Contextually, verse 17 clearly refers to the physical cosmos created by God. Prior verses affirm God’s pre-creation existence. In this creation, then, we may ask what is “held together?”
In the world of the atom there is a powerful application to the idea expressed in verse 17. The strong nuclear force, one of the four universal forces, is far and away the strongest. It is over one hundred times as strong as the next strongest force, electromagnetism. This force binds protons and neutrons together in the nucleus of an atom. It is exceedingly strong, but acts over only distances smaller than the diameter of the nucleus itself. If this force were to cease or become weaker, some commentators have stated we would have a chaos, not a cosmos. I have told my students that atoms have no business hanging together at all, because electromagnetic forces are always trying to make them fly apart. Strong nuclear forces win the day, however. Electromagnetic force, weaker than strong nuclear force but still stronger by far than gravity (10 to the 38th power stronger), succeeds in keeping negatively charged electrons in close proximity to the protons and neutrons in the nucleus. Were that not true, we would have another chaos producer!
Who authored these forces? Who keeps the forces reined in--not too strong, not too weak? What sustains the orderliness of matter and what prevents a universal nuclear holocaust? There is no naturalistic explanation for the origin, consistency, and maintenance of the laws governing these forces. As a believer in the Bible and a careful observer of nature, it is not difficult to affirm Colossians 1:17: “He holds all things together.”