Studying chemistry with my granddaughter this past year was much like learning a foreign language; one I deemed useless. I regularly asked two questions: “Why would I need to learn about the elements on the periodic table? And, how will I ever use chemistry for any practical purposes?”
Toward the end of the school year, we studied nuclear energy including the chemical elements of the sun. The energy produced by the sun occurs because of a nuclear fusion, combining hydrogen elements that produce helium. This fusion causes the temperature of the sun’s surface to be about 10,340 degrees Fahrenheit.
Our sun will continue to fuse helium with other heavier elements until it literally burns itself out or runs out of fuel. When the hydrogen fuel in the core of the sun is used up, the burning will spread outwardly toward the surface of the sun. This will cause the surface temperature of the earth to rise from about 68°F to 167°F and the increased radiation will have a devastating effect. The oceans will evaporate and our planet will become a stark, lifeless desert.
Scientists believe that, so far, the sun has used up about half of its hydrogen fuel, but most think the hydrogen in the sun will last for another 5 billion years. Both creationists and evolutionists agree on the chemical processes of the elements in the sun, although there is major disagreement on the age and longevity of the sun.
Soon after finishing the chemistry unit on nuclear energy, I read these words from 2 Peter in my morning devotional:
“But THE DAY OF THE LORD will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a ROAR; the ELEMENTS will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” (2 Peter 3:10)
Several words and phrases from this verse suddenly had new meaning for me. Chemistry came alive on the pages of my Bible.
The first word that struck me was “elements,” since the elements on the periodic table were very much a part of chemistry class. Simon Peter wrote this epistle sometime between AD 185 and 253. In it, he refers to the “elements.” It was not until 1869 that scientists compiled the periodic table, naming and ordering the elements. Yet 1600 years earlier, Peter wrote about them in this epistle. Except by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, how did Peter understand the chemical elements of nature back in the second century?
Secondly, the phrase “the day of the Lord” caused me to take pause. Here Peter does not specifically name the number of years it will take for the sun to run out of hydrogen and explode. This event is not determined by a scientific timetable of 5 billion years. Scripture tells us it will happen on the “day of the Lord” when God pushes the button. However, both science and the Bible agree that it is definitely going to occur.
Thirdly, Peter states: “the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” These words also agree with science because we know that the earth cannot survive without the sun. However, according to scriptures, there will one day be a new heaven and a new earth.
Finally, Peter states: “The heavens will disappear with a roar.” The King James Bible calls it “a great noise,” which translates in the Greek language as a hissing and a crackling sound. The crackling sound was also confirmed in a scientific experiment when the atomic bomb was tested in the Nevada dessert. Reporters noted that the release of atomic energy made a loud whirling and crackling noise.
Therefore, we see that the Bible establishes from the beginning what humanity learns much later. Throughout the ages, God has consistently revealed to us the truths of His creation. We might be tempted to think that we have discovered scientific knowledge through our own cleaver minds; however, the Spirit of God has already revealed all truth through the Bible.
Now I understand that chemistry is not a useless language after all. Chemistry, created by God, agrees with His Word. What a privilege it is to know intimately the Creator of all things including chemistry!