Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | November 28, 2018

Science in the Bible – Matter

(4 Minute Read)

Did your cup of coffee explode when you stirred it this morning?

You probably did not wonder why your coffee did not explode. However, this article may help you appreciate that lack of excitement.

Why does solid material, like the chair in which you are sitting, hold together — instead of disintegrating or exploding?

These questions are puzzles that have long perplexed scientists.

Rebus puzzles, sometimes called pictograms, are representations of a phrase by a combination of pictures, symbols, and letters. Can you figure out the common phrase, connected with today’s topic, that this puzzle represents? Try to solve the puzzle before you look at the answer below.

Professor Elliott H. Lieb, mathematical physicist at Princeton University, said this:
“When you consider all of the physical forces at work in matter, even in something as simple as a glass of water, it’s sort of miraculous that everything doesn’t just collapse and then, releasing huge amounts of energy, blow up.”
(Quoted by Richard Lipkin in “The stability of matter: why matter neither collapses nor explodes,” Science News, Oct 14, 1995.)

Professor Lieb has spent his research career studying the atomic stability of matter. Yet it is a continuing puzzle to him and other scientists.

Think about the water that Professor Lieb mentioned as an example. A water molecule, H2O, consists of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. The oxygen atom has eight protons tightly packed together in its nucleus with eight electrons in two shells orbiting around it in space. Each hydrogen atom has a single proton in its nucleus and one electron in orbit around it. There is a lot of space between the electrons and nucleus and even more space between the two hydrogen atoms and the oxygen atom. Most of the “volume” of the water molecule is empty space — more than 99.99% is space. Yet water has mass and weight and is extraordinarily stable.

What holds the positively charged protons so closely packed together in the oxygen nucleus? Since like charges repel each other, what keeps the protons from blowing the nucleus apart? Why don’t you set off a nuclear explosion when you stir your cup of coffee? Nobody knows; it’s a mystery.

Earth’s most common element by mass is Iron (chemical symbol Fe). An atom of iron has 26 protons tightly packed together in its nucleus with 26 electrons in four shells orbiting around the nucleus in space. Iron is heavy and strong, yet most of the volume of an iron atom is empty space.

Why don’t you set off explosions when you pound nails with a hammer? Nobody knows; it’s a mystery.

What I have explained here with the examples of water and iron is true of all matter — it is mostly empty space, yet it has weight and bulk and stability. Atoms have positively charged protons bound together in their nuclei, but the atoms do not blow apart even though like charges repel.

Why is this so? Nobody knows. As Professor Lieb said in his quote above, it’s “miraculous.”

Scientists have not been able to figure out the explanation because it is supernatural. The Bible hints at the answer:
For by Him [Jesus Christ] 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. (Colossians 1:16-17)
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

The answer to this material question is actually spiritual. The Great Creator holds matter together. He is directly responsible for the atomic stability of matter. Were it not for His moment by moment sustaining power, the entire universe would disintegrate.

Matter in general is very stable yet full of energy. Someday the Great Creator will disintegrate the structure of matter with the release of tremendous energy. Two thousand years ago, long before nuclear physicists, Scripture portrayed the energy bound up within matter.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)

The next time you drink a cup of coffee or pound a nail, remember why you don’t set off a nuclear explosion with those actions! And thank the Great Creator for His sustaining power that holds the universe together. That’s quite an ongoing feat, considering the size and complexity of the universe!

Science Catches Up to the Bible

Thousands of years before today’s scientists started wondering why matter holds together, the Bible attributed it to the power of the Creator. The mystery of matter cannot be explained by naturalism. It requires the spiritual answer given by the Bible.

Although the Bible is not primarily a science textbook, it does hint at many scientific truths like this one and like those mentioned in this Science in the Bible series, truths that long pre-date their discovery by today’s scientists. This is strong evidence of divine authorship of the Bible and provides good reason to trust what the Bible says that we don’t yet fully understand.

Questions to Ponder

1. Why don’t more scientists glorify the Creator for the astounding stability of matter?
2. What practical reminder can you use to prompt yourself to praise the One in Whom all things hold together?

Share your thoughts on this question in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

Rebus answer: Pumping iron.
(Click Rebus puzzles for links to blog articles with a Rebus puzzle.)

Soli Deo Gloria.

This is the 34th article in the Science in the Bible series of blog posts. While there is much science connected with Creation and Noah’s Flood, this series will mostly focus on lesser known scientific truths that were alluded to in the Bible long before they were known to scientists.
Read the prequels:
1. Science in the Bible – Blood
2. Science in the Bible – Ocean Currents
3. Science in the Bible – Undersea Mountains
4. Science in the Bible – Ocean Reservoirs
5. Science in the Bible – Good Medicine
6. Science in the Bible – Round Earth
7. Science in the Bible – Don’t Marry Kin
8. Science in the Bible – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
9. Science in the Bible – Hanging Earth
10. Science in the Bible – Thermodynamics
11. Science in the Bible – Water Cycle
12. Science in the Bible – Quarantine
13. Science in the Bible – Starry Host
14. Science in the Bible – Turning Earth
15. Science in the Bible – Hygiene
16. Science in the Bible – Seed of Life
17. Science in the Bible – Circumcision
18. Science in the Bible – Expanding Universe
19. Science in the Bible – Visible From Invisible
20. Science in the Bible – The Sun
21. Science in the Bible – Atomic Fission
22. Science in the Bible – Surgery
23. Science in the Bible – Dinosaurs
24. Science in the Bible – Biogenesis
25. Science in the Bible – Pigs with Wings?
26. Science in the Bible – Eating Pigs
27. Science in the Bible – First Aid
28. Science in the Bible – Chicken & Egg Dilemma
29. Science in the Bible – The Beginning
30. Science in the Bible – The End
31. Science in the Bible – Mother Eve
32. Science in the Bible – Father Adam
33. Science in the Bible – Adam’s Rib

Read the sequel:
35. Science in the Bible – Bread

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday November 28, 2018 A.D.

Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)


  1. What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see beautiful eyes, how wonderfully clever you are? Or do you see what a Wonderful creature you are, made by a beautiful Creator? How wonderfully clever God is! God looks on us through Jesus the Christ and sees all that He has made and it is Good!


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