Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Chemical Elements: Coherently Created

 We begin this post with a short and incomplete chemistry primer. When readers recapture memories from their secondary school chemistry courses, one of their first memories relates to the definition of an element. Chemical elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, iron, or gold are naturally occurring chemical elements in our physical universe. They cannot be broken down or separated into simpler substances. Water is not an element because it can be separated into the elements hydrogen and oxygen. Therefore, water is a chemical compound.

 Another early memory from our initial course in chemistry concerns atoms— tiny, basic units of elements. We could not describe elements without stating that elements are composed of atoms. We understand that atoms are incredibly tiny. There may be three trillion atoms in a minuscule speck of dust. 

Elements and atoms which compose elements possess a “coherent order.” This phrase is meaningful in our English language. It means systematic or logical and often refers to operation of a device serving a specific purpose. Each component of an element serves a purpose such as behaviors of atoms in any chemical reaction.

How many different substances exist on our planet? Almost 100 elements exist in nature, but many substances are compounds—chemical combinations of elements. New substances are formed when elements or compounds chemically combine. Other substances are mixtures in which the components are not chemically combined. The substances are merely mixed together in the same container. Raisin Bran serves as an example; raisins are mixed with bran flakes, but no new substances are formed.         

Six hundred thousand inorganic compounds and 16 million organic compounds are known to exist. Organic compounds are chemical combinations of elements carbon and hydrogen included as components of their molecules. (When compounds are formed an element’s electrons are shared with or donated to another element to produce a chemical combination.) Carbon is the main element in organic compounds and is essential for life on Earth. Without carbon, life as we know it could not exist. 

Chemical compounds exist because elements have been created in a “coherent order.” This allows the production of millions of compounds. Elements are assigned an atomic number. Here are the atomic numbers of a few important elements: Hydrogen-1, Carbon-6, Nitrogen-7, oxygen-8, aluminum-13, iron-26, gold-79. The     atomic number not only identifies the element, but also tells how many protons are possessed by that element. Oxygen has eight protons and eight neutrons. Elements generally have a similar number of neutrons and protons—sometimes a few more neutrons.

No additional elements exist in nature other than those already discovered and described. Neutrons, particles with no electrical charge, contribute binding energy to prevent positively charged protons in the atomic nucleus from chaotically flying off into space. (Like electrical charges repel.) The strong nuclear force is an intelligently designed feature provided by the Creator of forces.


We could not close our short chemistry primer without reminding readers about atomic number and atomic mass. We referenced atomic number in the above paragraphs. Atomic mass tells us the total number of an element’s protons plus the number of the element’s neutrons. Oxygen has an atomic mass of 16, roughly calculated by adding the number of protons (8) to the number of neutrons (8) in the nucleus of an oxygen atom. 

During my personal career as teacher of physical science and earth science, I found it easy to connect the wonders of our curricular science subject matter to my belief in the existence of God, the Creator of All Things. A good example is the subject of chemical elements from today’s blog topic. I cannot, rationally, believe that the coherent order of the periodic table, as it relates to the reality of the Creator’s actions, points to anything other than the existence of a rational, coherent MIND and a Divine Creator who created our present world. In other words, I subscribe to the creativity of God, the Creator of All Things. We need an observant and analytical mind to discover the truths relating to the Creator.    


Thursday, September 21, 2023

Observers of Forces

 The four fundamental forces discussed in our last post were described by scientists only in the last several hundred years. These forces (strong nuclear, electromagnetic, weak nuclear, and gravitation) govern everything that occurs in our everyday experience. The importance of the fundamental forces of nature had not been recognized by scientists in the days before the “scientific age” which commenced approximately 1600 AD.

As we look for evidence of the existence of God as the Creator of our cosmos we cannot fail to encounter the four fundamental forces in science literature and experience them with our senses. Our lives are totally immersed in them. The human sensory system ordinarily includes the familiar five senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. Some scientists include less familiar bodily senses such as balance, muscle awareness, temperature, hunger, thirst, and pain. Not only do these forces exist, but we are able to sense them. 


Knowledge of science supplies multiple opportunities for humanity to observe the power of our Creator. Our experience in the scientific age affords us insights unheard of in the centuries prior to the scientific age. God created the forces which objectively act on matter to produce an organized, coherent environment. God also endows humanity with sensory abilities to make subjective judgments concerning the orderliness of the universe, its intelligently designed features, and the characteristics of the Intelligent Designer/Creator.


Forces are most simply defined as pushes or pulls when matter interacts with other matter. We are not ordinarily aware of the push or pull forces holding protons together with other protons or neutrons in the nuclei of uncounted trillions of atoms composing matter surrounding us each moment of our lives. Those interested in a more esoteric treatment of forces could research contact forces such as friction and non-contact forces such as gravity and magnetism.


Humanity is awash in electromagnetic forces upon which our society depends for ordinary work, entertainment, and communication. What would we do without cell phones, computers, electric vacuums, toasters and a multitude of other electric appliances in our home? The spectrum of electromagnetic radiation energizes modern society. Discoveries related to electromagnetism began in the 19th century. My grandparents lived during a significant segment of that century before the invention of radios and telephones. Nevertheless, they were intrinsically aware of the four fundamental forces and their ability to perceive them with their bodily senses.


“As we observe the wonder of our surroundings, we focus on its beauty at different levels. Perhaps we ponder the aesthetic beauty of the great outdoors. The wonders of the beach, mountains, and sky grip our senses. At deeper levels we observe the interactions of matter, forces, and energy and how their interactions impinge upon us. Life scientists help us focus on the wonders of living inhabitants within our physical creation. They describe living things according to their physical and behavioral characteristics. The behavior of matter and living things lends itself to empirical studies--careful observation, description, and analysis, the starting points of our worship experience.” (Reprinted from our blog of 7/15/2013: Worship Stimulants)





Saturday, September 2, 2023

Creator of Forces

 A sizable fraction of citizens would agree: The world in which we live was created by God. Consciously or unconsciously, when we observe our world we observe evidence of the Creator’s work each moment of our lives. God fine-tuned the parameters of the physical universe when He created the heavens and the earth in the beginning (Genesis 1:1).

One of the foremost discoveries of modern scientists is the existence of four fundamental forces. In one way or another these four fundamental forces relate to virtually everything we observe and experience each moment of our lives. YouTube science commentator Arvin Ash listed a few everyday activities pervaded by one or more of these forces—the sun shining, brain activity, water evaporating, every process…every chemical reaction, every movement, every thought. Other scientists propose similar lists.  

Scientists identify four fundamental forces of nature:



When we observe any type of matter, scientists realize if the strong nuclear force were not acting, the matter would chaotically disintegrate. In reality, atoms and the particles that compose atoms—protons and neutrons—are held together in the nucleus of the atom by the strong nuclear force, over 100 times stronger than the next strongest force, but acting only over incredibly small distances. We could say particles within atoms cohere. They hold together by the strong nuclear force.   

The Apostle Paul penned the New Testament epistle to the Colossians. A familiar New Testament passage (Colossians 1:16-17) states: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Casual readers of scripture may wish to state that the New Testament author is proposing a scientific truth in a pre-scientific age. Bible commentators have speculated on these possibilities. They are known as “concordists.”

Before discussing the other three fundamental forces, we refer to our visual perception of every phenomenon in our world. These perceptions would be non-existent in a world where atomic particles did not cohere (hold together). In addition, the elements and compounds in DNA would not exist. Life would be impossible without the strong nuclear force.


Surrounding an electric current is an electric field. Surrounding a magnet is a magnetic field. Scientists in the 19th century discovered that these two forces are related. They work together to generate an electromagnetic force, about 100 times weaker than the strong nuclear force. Together they generate various electromagnetic “waves” which supply our societies with many types of communication and information transmission. We could not see or otherwise communicate by radio, television, internet or other media capabilities without electromagnetic forces. Heat travels through space from the sun by infrared waves. They spread out, and their range is infinite.

Various waves (photons—energy packets) of electromagnetic force occur in infinite frequencies and wavelengths. Electromagnetic forces such as visible light enable us to observe the shapes and colors of surrounding objects and perceive the reality and beauty of our environment. We worship Our Creator for His infinite wisdom.


This force is several million times weaker than the strong nuclear force. It relates to radioactivity and acts over short distances. The weak nuclear force changes a neutron to a proton in a process called beta decay. Hydrogen is fused into helium. Large quantities of energy are released. The weak nuclear force is present within our sun.      Without the weak nuclear force our universe as we know it could not exist.


Gravitational force is trillions of times weaker than the strong nuclear force and It acts over infinite distances. Gravitation is an attractive force. Objects with mass attract other objects with mass. The force of gravity is perceived by young children learning to walk. Children soon learn to orient their bodies in response to gravitation. All objects are attracted to our planet by gravity. The Earth continues in its predictable orbit around our life-giving sun. Gravity also holds Earth’s atmosphere close to the planet surface to the obvious benefit of air breathing life.

Scientists first began to think seriously about universal forces several centuries ago. Strong and weak nuclear forces were described only in the last 100 years. We link one of our 2008 blog posts. The post discusses an early theological insight (possibly also a scientific insight) discussed by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament book of Colossians: