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.