God’s Tiny Particles
by Bob Burridge ©2015
God called the Sun, Moon and stars into existence. He made the Earth with it’s trees, oceans, animals and plants. Each of these is made up of smaller things he called into existence – which are made of still smaller things – which are also made of still smaller things. What then is the smallest building block of the Universe?
What’s it all made of?
About the time of the closing events recorded in the Old Testament (the time of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi) an ancient Greek Philosopher named Democritus proposed that everything was made up of small basic particles called atoms. The word “atom” comes from the Greek word “atomos” (ἄτομος) which means “uncuttable”. Democritus said that these particles could not be divided up into yet smaller pieces. That term was developed into a more scientific idea by John Dalton in the early 1800s when he suggested that each element was made up of unique atoms of a particular size and mass.
Later in the 19th Century it was discovered that the atom was not as undividable as believed up to that time. At first they pictured negatively charged electrons embedded in a positively charged core like a raisin cake. Then it was found that it was more accurate to imagine the electrons orbiting a nucleus made up of positively charged protons and uncharged particles called neutrons. This meant that atoms are mostly made up of empty space. As precision in our observations increased it has become more helpful to speak of the electrons arrayed around the nucleus at various energy levels. Each electron is distributed within those levels relying upon probability equations to describe where each one may be at any particular time.
We also now know that those nuclear particles (protons and neutrons) are not indivisible either. They are made up of various kinds of quarks. The proton has two “up-quarks” and one “down-quark”. The neutron has two “down-quarks” and just one “up-quark”. Along with those basic parts of the atom, we know there are other basic particles in our universe. One of the current modes suggests that there are 6 basic quarks used in making up other types of particles, 6 leptons (one of which is the electron), and 4 basic force carrying particles: the photon (the particle that carries what we call “light’), gluon, Z-boson, and the W-boson.
Today we still say that each element has its own kind of atom. The number of protons in the nucleus determines if something is Oxygen, Carbon, Iron, Uranium, and so on.
As we have learned more we tend to see that there isn’t as much difference between what we think of a “solid matter” and that property we call “energy”. Dr. Einstein proposed that famous equation E=mc2 (The energy in a piece of matter is equal to its mass multiplied by the speed of light squared). This indicates that matter can be transformed into enormous amounts of energy and energy can become matter. We have now observed and measured that transformation in both directions confirming this classic equation. Sometimes light can be measured as particles or sometimes as waves of energy. The photon is thought of as a localized packet of energy with waves of particular wavelengths which determine the “color” of the light.
As light moves through air, water, glass, or the very sparsely populated regions of outer space, it travels at different velocities. It’s speed through a true vacuum has a constant value which renders the behavior of things in the universe somewhat stable. As it moves between stars that light is effected by fields of gravity which curve what we think of as the “space” through which that light is moving.
Without going into more detail we can see the amazing nature of God’s design for the universe. As we discover each new level of smaller and smaller building blocks it opens a whole new theater displaying the Creator’s amazing power and glory.
Underlying all this is the providential hand of God.
Describing the preeminence of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 1:15-16, ” He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”
The entire energy-matter continuum is generated by and upheld by the Creator of it all. He keeps the quarks together by the exchange of gluons. He keeps every photon and neutrino stabilized and on it’s proper path. He is the one we can rest upon when we don’t understand why things go they way they do in our lives. Not one gluon exchange takes place that is not fully under the control of our infinitely wise Creator who knows what’s as circumstances turn the way they do.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:29-30, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” This is a common theme all through Scripture.
Psalm 135:6, “Whatever the LORD pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.”
Nahum 1:3, “… The LORD has His way In the whirlwind and in the storm …”
Matthew 5:45, “… He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
A lump of coal can be broken down into individual atoms of Carbon bound to one another and to atoms of other elements such as Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Oxygen. Each Carbon atom is made up of a nucleus of 6 protons and usually 6 neutrons, and surrounding that is an array of 6 electrons which may be shared by other atoms forming various kinds of bonds. When we look more closely at the nucleus we discover that each proton is made up of those three quarks which exchange a cloud of gluons holding them together.
At each lower level solidity seems to fade away into the fluctuations of packets of energy. The things we call “particles” seem to behave more according to statistical laws than by the kinds of laws of motion and space we deal with in our daily lives.
What then is behind that energy that seems to be the basic reality of everything from galaxies to grains of sand? It’s all sustained and directed by the power of its Creator. As we look at smaller and smaller components of objects, the material nature of them begins to fade away into packets of energy waves and statistical equations. Energy is often localized as tiny particles which flow from point to point as God intends them.
But we have to keep in mind that the physical universe is not God. It is made by God to declare his glory and power in a way that enables intelligent creatures to behold the workings of the One behind it all. We ought to worship the Creator as we reflect upon the wonders of his Creation. To worship the things he created in themselves defies the very purpose for which all things are made.
In the lives of those intelligent and morally responsible creatures, God also displays through this material world his mercy, love, and redeeming grace. The Second Person of the Trinity came to earth with the real body and soul of a human to pay for the sins of his people. When he works faith in their fallen hearts he becomes their Savior and Good Shepherd forever making those redeemed into the children of the Creator himself. May we, as we see and touch those visible things around us, take time to worship and honor the God who holds it all together displaying his amazing power and love.
1 Peter 4:11, “… that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Note: Bible quotations are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.