The Heavens Declare His Glory... And So Do the Atoms


The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. (Ps. 19:1,2)

We talked about this passage a week ago Friday night at our mother-daughter campout during our night hike, while we stopped to sit or lay in the grass and enjoy the night sky. (Truth be told, once I lay down it was very hard to keep my eyes open.) The girls in our mid-week class will be memorizing Psalm 19, and star-gazing was a perfect intro for this beautiful psalm.

A few days later I was taking an after dinner walk. All day it had been raining, but finally it appeared to have ceased, and I gratefully took to my country lane for some fresh air and quiet. I’d just remembered something I needed to be praying about which was taking place that evening, when I lifted my gaze from the road to the skies. There in front of me was a stunning rainbow, which then developed into a double bow! The heavens were again declaring His glory.

But, not only the heavens declare His glory, but everything He has created makes plain His invisible qualities – “His eternal power and divine nature” (Rom. 1: 20), leaving men without excuse for not recognizing, glorifying, and thanking God. One of the beauties of studying the sciences is that you are studying God’s handiwork. The micro scale, whether it is virology or biochemistry, show forth His glory just as the stars do on a macro scale. All sciences, properly understood, point us to God’s power and character.

In our homeschool we follow a yearly science rotation. This is a chemistry year for us, which is good news for me, since I was a chem. major. Kristen is taking high school chemistry (I’m teaching her co-op class), and all the younger ones are also focusing on chemistry with a different set of materials. I’m being amazed anew at the awesome and perfect way that God created matter: The way atoms work – how they bond or don’t bond with other atoms. The seemingly infinite number of new molecules that can be created from around 100 naturally occurring elements. How atoms themselves hold together. How orderly it all is. And on and on. As we study the principles that God set in place, the only proper response is humility and awe.

This is the passage that very often comes to my mind as I read chemistry:

Col. 1:16, 17 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

And in case you want to learn more about how God has displayed His glory through chemistry, here are some great resources for elementary or high school students:

High School:
Exploring Creation with Chemistry (By Dr. Jay Wile/Apologia)
You can’t beat Dr. Wile’s high school science texts, and this is one of the best. You don’t have to be a chem. major to teach it either, but you might want to read it along with your student.

Elementary- Junior High
1. The Elements: Ingredients of the Universe
I LOVE this curriculum, designed for grades 3-8, which has meaty content clearly presented, combined with wonderfully creative teaching ideas. The fun activities definitely augment the content, rather than serve as busy distractions to the main course. For example, to illustrate electron cloud orbitals, you use balloons. One balloon represents a 1S orbital. To show a 1S and a 2S you blow up one spherical balloon inside of another such balloon. The p orbitals are even more fun: six oval balloons tied together. Yesterday my children made periodic table pillowcases using fabric paint markers. Paul says now his brain will just absorb the table as he sleeps. (We are memorizing the first 20 elements.) We’re looking forward to building molecules with colored marshmallows and performing some traditional chemistry type labs. There are board games, element trading cards you design, and even skits based on the discoveries of several of the elements. Fun and memorable! This is not a comprehensive first chemistry course, but one that offers an excellent introduction for the pre-high school set. (Available from )

2. Fizz, Bubble, and Flash!: Element Explorations and Atom Adventures for Hands-On Science Fun!
Wonder how the elements affect your everyday life? Look no further than this book, which looks at the elements by periodic table families. I’ll bet you didn’t know that bismuth, a metal, besides curing your upset stomach (Pepto-Bismo), is found in lipstick, eye shadow, and such to give them their lustrous sheen. Interesting facts, history, and very do-able experiments.
This books combines nicely with the above curriculum.

3. The Mystery of the Periodic Table (Benjamin Wiker)
A historical look at chemistry, from the first metal-smiths to the present. You’ll meet Boyle, Priestley, Lavoisier, and other famous chemists along the way. Written for middle school ages.

4. TOPS: Analysis
I couldn’t end a listing of science resources without mentioning at least one TOPS book. The creator of TOPS was a Peace Corp worker who had the challenge of teaching science in Africa with little-no resources. He came up with rather elegant labs that work with minimal supplies. This book, designed for Gr. 5-10 (though with help you can stretch the age limits lower), teaches basic analysis of known and unknown samples. You’re students will also perform a titration, learn about how buffers work, and more.


SaraY said…
I remember Dr. Wile's chemistry book. With far more fondness than I remember my chemistry book from Purdue last semester, in fact :-)

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