I have always enjoyed teaching units in my science classes that explore the design of chemical bonding and how it produces over 5000 naturally-occurring mineral species. We can learn some lessons by comparing chemical bonds and human relationships. Four different kinds of bonds form all those minerals:
IONIC BONDS. An ionic bond forms when two or more elements are held together by the giving and taking of electrons that exist in the outer energy levels of each atom. The classic example is sodium chloride, in which sodium gives up an electron, and chlorine takes on an electron. Both atoms are striving for stability, and they bond by one giving and the other getting. This kind of bond is not very strong. For example, halite, rock salt, is easily dissolved in water. Comparing these chemical bonds and human relationships, we see co-dependency as a similar type of bonding, and it, too, is not very strong.
COVALENT BONDS. Sharing of electrons creates this type of bond. This is the method of carbon bonding, which is the foundation of biochemistry. It is the bonding technique used to create life. In covalent bonding, the nuclei draw closer together, and the bond is very strong. A diamond is a classic example, and the contrast to halite is obvious. In human relationships, covalency is like marriage when both partners are respected and share in the bonding.
METALLIC BONDS. Elements in this bonding method have an outer layer of delocalized electrons that have fluid movement and are not tightly bound to individual atoms. This cloud of electrons gives a charge to the crystal and allows the material to be ductile, malleable, opaque, and a good conductor of heat and electricity. Copper is a classic example of this bonding. Humans with no solid attraction for others can be very singular in nature.
VAN DER WALLS BONDS. Rubbing a balloon on your shirt and sticking it to a wall exemplifies this very complex bonding. This bonding uses both ionic and covalent techniques. It has silicon-oxygen structures in layers with a variety of elements included in the layers. Examples are mica and clay. This layering prevents anything 90 degrees away from the plane of the layers from passing through it. That makes clay extremely useful in agriculture, landfills, and water reservoirs.
We can compare clay to God’s love for us. We see God’s genius as we use an electron microscope to examine clay crystals that are 1/256 mm or less in diameter. We can see the bonding God calls each of us to realize we don’t all bond in the same way. Our bonding with God gives us an understanding of the unique nature He has given us and everything around us. Geologist Jeffrey Greenberg wrote, “We do not worship Nature in Creation, but we worship the Creator and certainly should love the created as He does.”
— John N. Clayton © 2023
Reference: “Bonding” by Dr. Jeffrey Greenberg in God and Nature, Winter 2023