Faithful Learning in Chemistry
How knowing Chemistry, and teaching it to students, enhances my Faith.
By: Dirk Jasperse (HS Chemistry Teacher)
- Chemistry is beautiful because it is so logical, so orderly, so predictable. This is why chemistry is such a good subject for any student to take, even if they never pursue science any further in education or career. In chemistry, students develop abilities to connect cause and effect, to recognize patterns, and to solve multi-step problems. These are all important aspects of intellectual development. Chemistry is only the vehicle. This same beauty and orderliness that we see in the patterns of chemistry is a testimony of the character of the creator.
- If one can mentally zoom in on atoms and get any idea at all about how tiny and intricate they are, and then zoom out to try to imagine how many atoms there are in the whole, vast universe, that person must feel awe and amazement. Then, think about the God who not only created all this from nothing, but is aware of each atom, controls the working of each atom, and that each atom continues to exist only because God continues to sustain it. When one thinks on the atomic level, as one learns to do in chemistry, he realizes that the number of events that must be affected when God intervenes in even the smallest way in the world is staggering. This is evidence of God’s infinite knowledge, power, and control of all things.
- Chemistry is an exercise in faith because it is a study of the invisible. Accepting atomic theory is an analogy for believing in the existence of God. For an entire year, and then perhaps in further studies in AP Chem or in college, a student studies atoms and molecules, nuclei and electrons, without ever seeing them. Color changes in an acid-base titration, precipitation of a solid, and a bubbling test tube are all evidence of the existence of atoms, but students never see the atoms themselves, only the effect that they produce. Just so, we may seldom, if ever, see God in this life, but only the results of his presence. When I’m tempted to wonder if God is really there because I don’t see him, then I am reminded by chemistry that I believe firmly and thoroughly in atoms, and what science tells us about them, even though I haven’t ever seen them, nor will I. I accept the concept of atoms in the abstract on the strength of trusted teachers I have had, experimental results I have seen, and the whole weight of the scientific community that stands behind it. So it is with Christian faith.