The Chemistry of Life
by Linda Rex
As part of her homeschool program I have been studying chemistry with my daughter. To tell the truth, I’ve figured out for sure I still do not care very much for chemistry—physics and astronomy are the types of sciences I’m more comfortable with. But I am finding there are interesting parallels between the sciences and theology. And I believe God meant it to be this way.
I was first introduced to the idea of science and theology being interrelated by John McKenna during my studies with Grace Communion Seminary. This was when I was first introduced to the works of Thomas F. Torrance, who wrote specifically on this topic in a number of ways. I especially appreciated works such as “Space, Time and Resurrection”, “Divine and Contingent Order”, and “Theological and Natural Science”, as well as his book on theological science. They were heavy reading at first, but once I got my head around what Torrance was trying to say, I was amazed.
Dr. McKenna too helped me to see how over the centuries science impacted theology and theology impacted science. The deeper I went into these studies, the more I could see how God has slowly but surely directed humanity into a deeper understanding of who he is and how we live in relationship with him and one another. I have no doubt this working out of God’s purposes has taken place due to the efforts of Jesus Christ through his Spirit.
And it has taken place in spite of us, for humanity has, over the centuries, shown itself to be much more inclined to destruction, slavery and inhumanity than it has been toward coming to a deeper knowing and loving of God and human beings. And yet there is this spark of life which still permeates our existence. There is a slow working out here and there of an understanding of the value of human beings and their infinite diversity, the reality we do not live just for ourselves, and an appreciation of the beautiful world we have been given to live in.
Today scientists and mathematicians, interestingly enough, are seeing the importance of relationships and interrelatedness in almost every area of science, as they probe deeper into the mysteries of the intricate building blocks of the universe and immensity of the expanse of the cosmos. And I personally feel they should be finding this, because all God has made reflects the wonder and beauty of his being. If God, as Father, Son and Spirit, is relational, intricately intertwined in a perichoretic relationship of mutual indwelling—then it only makes sense these things should show up when we look deeply into all God has made.
I would not consider myself to be a scientist. Nor would I consider myself to be a theologian. But there are times when I am struck by the way those things God has made point us to him.
The other day I was helping again with chemistry, doing some odd experiment with my daughter, and my mind went off on one of its squirrel hunts about water, one of the basic building blocks of life on this planet. I knew water is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (H2O). I’d been reading recently about how scientists have been looking for water on Mars as proof of there being life, or the possibility of life, on the planet. And they finally found some.
Well, off my mind went. Karl Barth in his “Church Dogmatics” points out certain theologians describe the Being of God in such a way that we see the Father loves the Son in the Spirit and the Son loves the Father in the Spirit. The Spirit, being the Ruach (Hebrew) or Breath of God, who proceeds from the Father through the Son (Greek Orthodox) or from the Father and the Son (Western) is the Love of God poured out on humanity, so we can share in this intimate relationship between the Father and the Son.
So, following my squirrel hunt, if the Breath of God, this Ruach, is poured out from the Father and the Son, then this is the living water, which flows from the throne of God (see Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22)—the H2O—the Father, Son and Ruach. Scientists say without water, there cannot be life. But the reality is without the Father, Son and Spirit—there is no life.
It is God who breathes life into us, and it is God who sustains us. The Ruach or divine Oxygen is Who gives us life, and the Father and Son have made God’s Being a part of our being now, because Christ came and took on our humanity. The Life of the Father, Son, and Spirit is connected with us at the core of our existence. We have our life, both physical and spiritual, in the “breathing in and out”, in the Ruach of the Father and Son.
I watched my mother struggle for her last breaths—it was hard to watch. All the medicines in the world, even the oxygen pumped into her nostrils, could not ensure she would keep breathing. And the reason was, God had decided it was her time to die.
Those who work in the health professions, especially in emergency medicine, can tell you, if they are willing, it is impossible to keep someone alive when it is their time to die. And it is impossible for someone to die, when God has determined they are to live. Life and death are not something we have complete control over—even though we spend millions of dollars every year trying to obtain some control over whether or not we live or die.
We do our best. We create incredible medications and medical treatments in an effort to lengthen life or restore good health. This is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself—in many ways it is a participation in God’s efforts to bring health and healing to the suffering. But we must always beware of our tendency to play God. There is only one Water of Life, and it’s not us. We are not ordained to give and take life—God is—for he is Life, he is Breath. He is our H2O.
And he has determined the end of this life is not the final end. He has determined to share eternity with us. Trust in the marvel of Living Water—God has given us himself, in his Son Jesus Christ and in his Spirit—the Breath of God Who breathes real life into us, taking us into the heart of the Father and Son relationship, where we are welcome to live forever. May we trust in Christ and his work, and receive this amazing Gift of Living Water, through Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
I thank you, Heavenly Father, for your gift of life through your Son Jesus Christ and in your Spirit. Breathe into us new life, and a new understanding of Who you are and who we are in you. Grant us the grace to trust fully in your Gift of life, and to allow you to wash us through the Water of your Word, so we may fully reflect your glory. In your Name as Father, Son and Ruach, we pray. Amen.
“You hide Your face, they are dismayed; you take away their spirit, they expire and return to their dust. You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground.” Psalm 104:29–30 NASB
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