Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Elemental, my dear apologist

Speaking of nature - in Psalm 19 - the Bible says "there is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard..." Is nature "telling the glory of God" on a molecular level? Jesus recalled the vivid image of speaking stones in Habakkuk 2.11, when he said the "stones would cry out" in praise of God, if man kept silent (Luke 19.41). To give the elements of the universe their God-given voice, I publish the following from Ted Naumann:

The Periodic Table

500 billion galaxies, each containing 100s of millions of solar systems is believed to have come from a minuscule "singularity". Did this singularity have an inherent periodic table within its mass?

Some believers in the "big bang" would say yes. If true, it would follow that each and every one of 107 potential atoms were already contained within that singularity. The quarks within the atomic nuclei would provide the attributes which would later determine what each potential atom will become.

Other big bang adherents may say that it is absurd to attribute any form of organized matter within the extremely dense mass of the singularity. Atomic structures would have to be formed during or after the big bang.

Either way, the existence of a periodic table poses some interesting conclusions.

  1. All atoms are capable of combining with one another in order to form molecules which greatly exceed the usefulness of the individual atoms. For example, aluminum when combined with magnesium (which weighs only half as much) changes from a toothpaste tube material into an alloy useful for the wings of a large jetliner.

  1. This ability of atoms to combine into useful molecules is hard to understand because their individual electrons are so active. Electrons revolve around their proton at more than 100 million billion times per second. It's tough enough to see how they avoid colliding with one another when circling their own nucleus, let alone when forced into combining with another atom (with its own electrons) to make a molecule. When several different atoms are combined into a molecule, the electrons of each atom often cross paths with electrons of other atoms and do it without colliding.

  1. The hydrogen atom is unique. It is the most abundant element in the universe, yet a free hydrogen atom is almost never found on earth. It's the lightest of all elements (with only one electron), and it has combined naturally with oxygen (which has 8 electrons) to make H2O the most abundant molecule in the world, (covering 3/4 of the earth's surface) and one that is essential to all of life. The human body consists of 60% water. This third phenomenon brings us back to the periodic table. We are forced to ask one ultimate question, the answer to which will form a world view. But first, let's take a closer look at the periodic table.

The 107 natural elements are grouped by their characteristics into categories. Metals are an important category. They not only provide the material for most structures, but some like iron, have useful functions in the human body.

Iron (Fe) is the fourth most abundant element on earth. Significant quantities also have been found in meteorites. It is the main ingredient in steel and several hundred thousand tons of it are required to make one large naval vessel or cruise ship. Although a large number of them have gone to the bottom of the sea over the years; there is no danger of an iron shortage. It is obvious that iron ought to have been one of the most abundant elements in the periodic table.

Gases comprise another important category in the periodic table. The most important gas is oxygen (O) and it happens to be the most abundant element on earth. We have said that hydrogen gas is almost never found naturally on earth outside of the water molecule, yet there are twice as many hydrogen atoms than oxygen atoms in water. Oxygen makes up about half of everything on our planet and comprises 2/3 of the human body. Although It is continuously being consumed by people and animals, it is marvelously restored into the air by plants.

One of the atoms in the metal category is relatively rare and somehow there is little use for it anyway except for jewelry and dental work and, oh yes, money. The value of gold is almost entirely arbitrary since ceramics have become the material of choice for dental work. Our society could get along very well without it.

Aluminum is an extremely useful metallic atom. It doesn't corrode like iron and therefore is useful for weather sheathing, window frames and beer cans. When combined with magnesium, it becomes stronger than any other molecule of similar weight. Cars made of it become more fuel efficient, and airplanes of that alloy can carry heavier loads. As the most conductive of all metals, it has numerous electrical uses. Fortuitously the aluminum atom is the most abundant of all metallic elements and the third most abundant element of any kind. Over a million tons of it are produced in the United States every year and more is recycled.

Oil, coal and natural gas, those complex hydrocarbon compounds, have become essential for the survival of industrial nations. Highway pavements, massive amounts of fuels, scores of synthetics, all require it. Oil is abundant, but retrieving it is often limited by wars, environmentalists and the high cost of drilling. Large quantities are found in places where you would least expect it - under vast deserts, the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the North Slope of Alaska. It is plentiful all over the USA, South and Central America, etc. Yes, oil is abundant, but then it has to be.

The source of oil is a major speculation into which this article will not engage. We simply included it as another example of a type of matter which was made in great abundance apparently by dame fortune.

There aren't enough rubber trees in the world to supply the need for auto, plane and truck tires, flexible tubing, etc. But by polymerization of organic compounds, tires are being made from sugar cane and other sugar sources. There are more than 2 million carbon (organic) compounds useful for nylon, polyester, plastics, synthetic rubber, etc. in an almost unlimited supply because they are all made from renewable resources.

Silicon is the world's second most abundant atom. While it appears to be mere sand, it is enormously versatile and useful. It can be made into almost anything: building blocks, cement, semi-conductors, solar batteries, all kinds of glass, micro-electronics, photosensitive plates, and a new ceramic with mechanical strength ranging from 15,000 to 35,000 pounds per square inch and which is being used in the nose cones of spacecraft.

We said in paragraph 4 that the periodic table poses some interesting conclusions. Please note that the underlined conclusions in this article are made tongue-in-cheek. Thoughtful people will realize that the individual elements in the periodic table were made by a super intelligent being and that they were made in just the right quantities to enable an industrialized society to flourish.

Ted Naumann


In Heaven we will be given the benefit of hindsight - to say nothing of more advanced intelligence than we now have on earth. Perhaps we will have to wait until we talk about it in Heaven to know for sure, but that does not stop Ted Naumann from giving us a fascinating twist on the "anthropic principle".

Does he know something the rest of us don't know?

I thank him for this extraordinary insight. I have not heard the periodic table of elements referred to in any other apologetic. Have any of you out there see this before?

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