ANTHROPOGENIC (MAN-CAUSED) CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE BIBLE: GENESIS – PART 1

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By examining a variety of conditions a consensus has emerged among our sagacious researchers. The hypothesis propounded by The Men In White declares human activity has caused the climate to change. The climate has changed indeed; this fact everyone agrees.  Our climate has always changed, and will always continue to change. The climate has never, ever, once, stayed the same. To do so now would probably be the most horrendous sign of upcoming cataclysm since the Fall of Man.

That man can trigger climate change we do not dispute; what is contested is the way by which he has set the change in motion. The Men In White believe man-caused climate change is brought about primarily through human CO2 emissions when, in fact, the environment’s most violent and far-reaching changes are a direct judgment upon man’s sinful nature.

Not only is their premise incorrect, but the means by which the Men In White acquire their insights is also defective: the distant prophesies of these 21st Century Magi are ascertained using erroneous computer models. These clairvoyant pronouncements are many times wrong.  Not a single climate model predicted the current cooling phase. If the seer-science were settled, the computer model would have predicted it, which it didn’t. Their charts and graphs or studies of the atmosphere cannot tell us with certainty what the weather will be like next week; but if they make 30-year climate projections their judgments are infallible. Their computer model is akin to cybermancy, a form of data divination dressed in scientific language. If one can employ science in the service of a cause, one can gain certain credibility. Big data, charts, graphs, and statistics are the new scriptures; scientism is the new religion, reverence for the white lab coat having replaced respect for Geneva robes.

Scientists project that the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer of 2013. Not in 2050, but four years from now. John Kerry, Huffington Post, Aug. 31, 2009

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Before considering the theme of this article – biblical evidence for man-caused climate change – we must first take a moment to acknowledge some ordinary influences that transform our climate. These forces have nothing to with humans: 1) the earth’s axial tilt oscillates a span of 2.4 degrees over long periods of time and is currently decreasing; 2) the moon’s distance from the earth increases each year, which would impact ocean tides and increase the length of each day; 3) the sun itself is changing and some scientists believe it is getting smaller; 4) if the Second Law of Thermodynamics is to be believed, we should expect the climate to change.

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What follows is a biblical summary of major climate and environmental changes which were truly caused by man.  Our sinfulness and separation from God has wrought judgment on mankind and our surroundings.

The Fall of Adam (c 4000-3700 B.C.)

The first man-caused climate alteration occurred shortly after the first man, Adam, was created. This incident had the most devastating and far-reaching among all man-caused disasters:

Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”  To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”  Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:9-19

As result of sin God placed a curse on man and on his whole environ­ment. Consequently man now had to recognize the seriousness of his wickedness, as well as his helplessness to save himself and his environment from the self-inflicted destruction. Such a condition should encourage us to a state of contrition toward God and a desire for God to provide deliverance from the evil state upon which man had brought upon himself.

Adam & Eve are driven out of the garden of Eden

By reason of this common curse the history of mankind would be turned into a history of hardship and death. The soil man was to subdue would now subdue him. A shadow would be cast over all man’s earthly existence, making all his labors difficult. Man’s task in the cultivation of the earth would become a wearisome, sweaty toil, and plagued by violent storms, floods, or drought. Under the common curse, humanity was to be troubled by social discord as well as by afflictions in the realm of nature. The common curse would turn human existence on earth into a struggle for survival, a perpetual conflict, a vain history leading to decay and death.

This condition is so universal that it was formalized years ago (by Carnot, Clausius, Kelvin, and other scientists) into a fundamental scientific law, now called the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This principle states that all systems, if left to themselves, tend to become degraded or disordered. It has also been called the “law of morpholysis” (from a Greek word meaning “loosing of structure”). Physical systems, whether watches or suns, eventually wear out. Or­ganisms grow old and die. Hereditary changes in species are caused by gene mutations (sudden random disruptions in their highly ordered genetic systems) which in many cases have resulted in deterioration or annihilation of an entire animal class. Even apart from mutations, the de­terioration of the environment has often led to species extinction. Instead of life and growth, there comes decay and death; instead of evolution, there is degeneration.

This, then, is the true origin of the strange law of disorder and decay, the universally applicable, all-important Second Law of Thermo­dynamics. Herein is the secret of all that’s wrong with the world. Man is a sinner and has brought God’s curse on the earth.

The Great Flood (c 2500 B.C.)

The next major man-caused climate change was brought about by the universal wickedness of man during the time of Noah.

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. “Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. “For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.” The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days. (Genesis 6:5-7:24 selected)

The narrative provides reasons for the worldwide cataclysm. Mankind had become utterly corrupt; the earth was filled with vio­lence; humankind had perverted his way. The universality of human wick­edness and depravity is repeatedly emphasized in the text.

Elsewhere in Scripture God had commanded man to fill the earth. This he had done, but he also filled it with violence. The word for “corrupt” in Hebrew is a very strong term, and is often translated “destroy.” That is to say that to corrupt is to destroy! Instead of following God’s way, all men, like sheep, had turned aside to their own ways (Isaiah 53:6), and thus finally had destroyed themselves.

Sodom and Gomorrah (c 2067 B.C)

In this passage we learn that the sins of men are not hidden from God. Although the wicked will attempt to conceal their evils, the wickedness is known by God and His vengeance supervenes.

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And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. “I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” …Then the two men said to Lot, “Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace… Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived. (Genesis 18:20-19:29 selected)

“The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from out of heaven.” This is the first mention of “fire” in the Bible, and of course speaks clearly of divine judgment on man’s sin. “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving them­selves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7).

Exactly what was this fire that descended from God out of heaven? The word “brimstone” is usually associated with Sulphur, but is also used for any inflammable substance. It has been suggested by others that the catastrophe was actually a volcanic eruption, as there is much evidence of past activity in the area. A more likely possibility is that a great earthquake took place in association with a violent elec­trical storm.

The region at present is one of the most unusual on earth, not only because of its great depth below sea level and the uniquely high salt content of its Dead Sea, but also because of the strange rock forma­tions and unusual geologic structure. At the southwest corner of the sea is a great mountain of rock salt, seven hundred feet high and five miles long, known as Jebel Usdum (meaning, in Arabic, “Mount of Sodom”). Other salt deposits abound in the region. These great beds of rock salt are by no means comparable to the salt deposits actually being formed in the Dead Sea itself. It seems likely a different origin must account for them, and evidence has ac­cumulated in recent years that such deposits have resulted from massive precipitation from magmas and waters ascending from depths below the earth. They are volcanic, not lacustrine, phenomena.

Many other evidences of volcanoes abound there, such as rocks formed from lava and volcanic ash. On the other hand, the results of archaeological investigations do not support the hypothesis that these volcanic phenomena occurred as recently as the time of Abraham and the cities of the plain.

One of the most important lines of volcanic movement evidently took place through this region. The Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba, the Red Sea, all lie along the “Great Rift,” which continues on through the Upper Nile Valley and into southern Africa. This has been a very active region ever since and is still subject to repeated earthquakes. Furthermore, in the volcanoes accompanying the earlier tectonic activity, not only had massive con­centrations of salt been deposited, but also organic materials from the Flood had been converted into oil, asphalt, and natural gas, along with considerable quantities of Sulphur. The reference in Genesis 14:10 to the many asphalt pits in Siddim, as well as the fact that the Jewish historian, Josephus, spoke of the Dead Sea as the “Asphalt Sea,” is further evidence of the remarkably combustible character once possessed by the whole area.

It seems possible, therefore, that God triggered an earthquake along the great fault at this time, which released and exposed to the atmos­phere vast quantities of combustible hydrocarbons and Sulphur. At the same time, God sent “fire from heaven,” which ignited the mixture in a great explosion and devastating fire.

The “fire and brimstone” that fell from heaven possibly refers to the burning gas and Sulphur that were blown into the air in the ex­plosion and then fell back to the earth throughout the region. The most likely naturalistic explanation for the ignition of these materials prob­ably would be that of a simultaneous electrical storm, in which case the lightning itself could also be described as “fire from heaven.” Simi­lar terminology is used in Job 1:16, Ezekiel 38:22, and elsewhere, for what probably are also violent atmospheric phenomena.

Since natural physical phenomena, divinely timed, seem adequate to explain the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, perhaps we should interpret the story in this way. We do not want to exclude the possi­bility, however, that a specially-created divine fire was sent supernaturally from heaven to ignite the region. The Bible does record other such things, as in the days of Gideon (Judges 6:21), Elijah (I Kings 18:38), and others. It is interesting that the word for “brimstone” in the New Testament Greek, θεῖον (theion), literally means “God’s fire.” The per­sonal connection of God and the two angelic messengers with Sodom’s destruction tends to suggest that the “rain of brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven” was actually supernatural. There is certainly no reason for us to question either God’s ability to produce a unique miracle in this situation.

THE FAMINE DURING THE DAYS OF JOSEPH (c 1700 B.C.)

The Famine Stela speaks of a seven-year period of drought and famine in Egypt

The famine in Egypt (1708 BC-1701 BC) was a seven-year period during which no grain grew in Egypt or in nearby territories. The devastation was largely averted by Joseph (the son of Jacob) who foretold the coming of the event and was appointed the Pharaoh’s viceroy. As viceroy, he prepared the country by storing up food during the years that preceded the famine.

 Now in the morning [Pharaoh’s] spirit was troubled, so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh …Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it; and I have heard it said about you, that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”… Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” … “Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt; and after them seven years of famine will come, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt, and the famine will ravage the land. “So the abundance will be unknown in the land because of that subsequent famine; for it will be very severe. When the seven years of plenty which had been in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said, then there was famine in all the lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread (Genesis 41:8-54 selected).

If one reads the entire chapter the context shows what an inflated and brazen race of men these Men In White were, and how lavishly they boasted of their abilities in predicting the future. How did it then happen that they gave the king no answer, seeing they might have otherwise seduced a gullible man? Therefore, no answer was provided in hope the Pharaoh might desist from inquiry; he is not allowed to find what deception or ignorance slouched in his wise men. Unfortunately for the Men In White, by their silence, the anxiety of the king is sharpened: he considers that what has escaped the intelligence of the wise men must be something very serious. The king concludes how frivolous and nuga­tory was the profession of scientific wisdom, in which the Men In White gloried above all others. The Men In White boasted that they possessed a learning which ascended above the heavens.

The passage also vividly shows the wrong approach of the civil magistrate used because he had the erroneous notion that knowledge of the future was open to human art and specially-trained technical skill. The Pharaoh first considers Joseph a scientific special­ist of this kind, yet one who is quite superior to the Men In White because he does not need to exert himself. This error becomes especially touching in Joseph’s response: he decisively rejects this assumption and gives credit to God alone for correctly interpreting the signs of climate change and coming up with a practical solution.

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Works Cited

Holy Bible (1981 New American Standard Translation). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers

Calvin, John (2003). Commentaries on the Book of Genesis. Translated by the Rev. John King, M.A. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

Kline, Meredith (2006). Kingdom Prologue. Eugene, OR: Wpf & Stock Publishers.

Morris, Henry (1976). The Genesis Record. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

von Rad, Gerhard (1972). Genesis. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

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For further reading:

GLOBAL WARMING IS A BLESSING, NOT A THREAT

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