Phase Change :: By Dr. Thomas J. Miranda

One of the early concepts taught in Chemistry is that of phases. That is, an element or compound can exist in a number of phases that exhibit different properties, yet maintain its original structure. We can illustrate this simply by comparing the phase changes of water, the most abundant compound on earth. Water can exist as a solid, liquid or a gas.

Water is an amazing compound, and its three properties are stunning and a function of the absolute temperature:

At temperatures below 0° Centigrade, water exists as a solid. Its density is below 1 gram/cc, and therefore ice floats. Ice demonstrates all the properties of a solid material related to compression, crystal structure and other properties of solids.

Water exists as a liquid above 0° Centigrade and behaves as liquids, i.e. compressibility, ability to conform to its container, viscosity and density. The density of water is different to that of ice.

In the vapor or gas phase, water exists as a gas, having the properties of gases and behavior consistent with the Kinetic Theory of Gases.

The unusual properties of water are due to its molecular structure. Unlike carbon dioxide, which is a linear molecule (O=C=O), water has a bent configuration:




This configuration is responsible for ice to float when it freezes. Had God not designed it this way, the oceans would freeze from the bottom up. The bent configuration also causes distortion of the electron cloud so water that has a molecular weight of 18 a.m.u boils at 100° C, while methane 16 a.m.u. boils at -161° C. The difference is due to hydrogen bonding that does not exist in methane, which is a symmetric molecule.

How can a single molecule behave in such independent ways yet still be a water molecule? There are so many properties of matter that can be traced to the molecular structure. How can this be?

Christians can ask the same question. How can we have a Holy Trinity where we have three separate and individual entities, yet they belong to ONE?

Well, consider the phases we just discussed and see that in the ice case, we can consider the Father, all powerful, solid and unmovable. With Jesus we have an all-encompassing water, the Water of Life that covers every phase of life on earth and elsewhere. The Holy Spirit, invisible, just as water vapor is invisible, is yet all powerful who controls our spiritual well-being and thought processes.

Anyone who might question the existence of God needs only to look at the marvels of nature to see the hand of God in the design of molecules and their impact on nature. In His preaching, Jesus always refers to the ‘water of life,’ pointing out the significance of this important molecule.

What an amazing God we have who towers above all the Universe, yet is still concerned for our well- being and Spiritual Salvation! Reflecting on God’s wonders provides reassurance to Christians of God’s ever presence in our daily lives.