GLOBAL WARMING & THE BIBLE
Ivan L. Burgener
Our subject today is Global Warming and the Bible. Recently the G-8 group of world leaders met in Scotland, and Global Warming was one of the major problems to be considered. The United States President, George Bush, has upset many leaders in this group because he has not agreed to sign the world treaties designed to lessen global warming by reducing "greenhouse gas emissions." Human conduct is judged to be a major cause for increases of harmful gas emissions which, they say, causes Global Warming.
Can the Bible shed light on Global Warming? First we must describe in simple terms what is meant. This term, global warming, describes the gradual increase in temperature of the atmosphere and land of Planet Earth . Changes in weather patterns and the slight gradual increase in average temperatures all over the world do indicate that there is a world-wide warming trend. Does the Bible give information to explain this warming trend, one way or the other?
I will state up front that I believe we are experiencing Global Warming. I am convinced that weather conditions all over the world are slowly and gradually getting warmer. I further believe this trend began a long, long time ago and has continued right up to the present moment. During recent travels to Alaska , I was shown pictures of the size and position of glaciers years ago and then pointed to these same glaciers and how much smaller they are today. Today I will share such evidences as I see in the Bible which support the idea that global warming is real and has been true for a very long time.
The Lord Jesus challenged Nicodemus saying, " If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?" (John 3:12). Our question is: Can we trust our Bible about earthly things?
I hope you will follow along today with your Bible. If I go too fast for you to turn the pages and read each verse, I suggest you write down the verse reference numbers so you can follow up later and be sure I am giving explanations in agreement with their contexts. You need to be sure I am not adding any "spin" of my own.
We have no where else to turn except the Bible to read how to be saved and to be assured of the forgiveness of our sins. Only the Bible gives us joy and peace in believing and the hope of spending eternity with our Savior. In John 3 the Lord was pointing Nicodemus to Ezekiel 36:25 when He spoke about being "born again," or really "born from above." The Lord was talking about the earthly things of Israel's promised kingdom, and how to see and enter it. Those truths had been already covered by Ezekiel in the Old Testament. Nicodemus should have known all about it, yet he could not remember and failed to catch on. Let's try to do better today.
The issue about whether or not we can trust our Bible is very important. We must be careful to "rightly divide the word of truth." Can we trust the Lord Jesus to tell us the truth about heaven and eternity, about salvation and the forgiveness of our sins? If so, then we must also trust Him to tell us about earthly things. I hope you agree that we can trust the Lord and the whole Bible. Whatever it says cannot be wrong or misleading. Whatever the Bible tells us about history or anything else, if we understand it correctly, we can be sure it is true and trustworthy.
The Bible says God cannot lie. God is truth, and in Him is no lie at all of any kind. So what does the Bible say about Global Warming? To answer this question we must first present the Bible's record about how things were from the beginning of creation and throughout the time of its writing. Since the Bible's writings were completed almost 2,000 years ago, we will depend on the records of world history for the time of the Savior to the present time.
Beginning with the Bible's record of creation, anyone can take a few notes and add up the dates and times and find out that God created everything about 4000 years B.C., that is before the time of Christ. Since we are living in A. D. 2005, that makes the total time of human history to be just a little over 6,000 years. This is the same age for the earth, the whole universe, and the human race because the Bible plainly says they were all created in the 6 days of the first week of time, that is, from the beginning of time.
We know there is wide spread teaching about evolution which assumes the universe and our earth are perhaps as old as 20 billion years. It is also obvious that the Bible and evolution cannot be both correct. For our subject of global warming, we are going to focus ONLY on what the Bible says. I believe you will be surprised to see that the Bible's history of the world is not as silly as some suggest. Let's begin with creation and the Garden of Eden.
The Bible records that every circumstance of the original creation was wonderful. It does not give us a weather report for the Garden of Eden, but it does say that "…every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground" (Gen. 2:5-6). A little later it mentions that Adam and eve in the Garden of Eden did not need to wear clothes. They were naked and unashamed. Notice, it does not say they were either too cold or too hot. Even without clothes, everything was just right. We would call that a perfect harmony with a perfect environment.
The weather in the Garden of Eden was nothing like we experience today. It sounds rather humid with a heavy dew or mist watering the ground every day. But when Adam and Even sinned, God put them out of the Garden. To protect and prepare them for their new surroundings, He took the skins of animals and made clothes. This indicates that their environment outside the Garden would not be as nice and comfortable as it had been inside the Garden.
In the passage of time the wickedness of man became great in the earth and God said another big "weather change" was coming. God told Noah He would send a flood to destroy men and beasts, "I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living creature that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth." Later it reads, "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life…were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights." (Gen 7:4, 11-12). This changed everything, including the weather.
Noah, his family, and all the animals spent a little more than a year in the safety of the Ark until the ark landed and the waters receded. God opened the door of the ark and introduced them to the new world. It should be clear that the whole world had suffered a catastrophic weather condition such as the world had never seen before (or since). God promised He would never ever cause such a flood to destroy the world again. He put the rainbow in the sky as a token of His promise.
According to weather reports, the world experiences flooding conditions in some place all the time, and at the same time, other places experience droughts. Such is the world in which we live. But, if God really did bring a world wide flood in Genesis just like the Bible says, such that the tops of the mountains were covered, then you can be sure that He has kept that promise, and the rainbow is our frequent reminder of His faithfulness. Local floods have been many, but never again a global flood! Can we trust the Bible?
And, my friends, the main questions about Noah's flood are not: "How big was the ark?" or, "How many animals could Noah fit inside the Ark ?" The main questions are just two: #1: "Where did all the flood waters come from?" and, #2: "Where did all that water go after the flood?" These are the most important questions regarding Noah's flood and the biblical record of the weather and world history.
"Where did all the water come from? The Bible gives three sources for the flood waters in Genesis 7:11-12, "T he same day were all (#1) the fountains of the great deep broken up, and (#2) the windows of heaven were opened. And (#3) the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights." The "fountains of the great deep" refer to subterranean water reservoirs which discharged geysers of water under great pressure from caverns below the earth's crust. This was on a greater scale, yet much like the hot water geysers of Yellowstone Park today! The "windows of heaven" indicate the collapse of the water canopy mentioned in Genesis 1:6-7, "And God said, 'Let an expanse be in the midst of the waters, and let it separate between waters and waters.' And God made the expanse, and it separated between the waters which are under the expanse, and the waters which are above the expanse: and it was so."
Some people do not realize that the earth, from creation to the flood, had been protected by a water canopy. This water canopy apparently collapsed through heavens windows and thus provided a sizable portion of the flood waters. One can see that with the canopy removed, for the first time ever, rain began and became a common event after the flood. It had never rained before the flood. These sources provided the enormous quantities required to cover the entire planet. Remember the waters covered the tallest mountains. (We suggest that the mountains before the flood were not nearly as tall as those we have today.)
Folks are surprised to learn that fossils of marine animals can be found on the tops of our mountains. Marine animal fossils indicate that surfaces containing them must have been below sea level some time in the past. No one believes sea creatures climbed up the mountains and became fossilized way up there!
The next question is: Where did the flood waters go in order to allow the dry land to reappear? Some have thought it simply evaporated, but that cannot be. The quantity of water required to saturate our entire atmosphere represents only a few inches of the ocean depth. Evaporation cannot explain the removal of any substantial amount of flood waters.
We believe Psalm 104:5-9, gives the answer. It says that God "...laid the foundations of the earth…, You covered it with the deep [water] as with a garment; The waters stood above the mountains [the Genesis flood]. At Your rebuke they fled; At the voice of Your thunder they hastened away. They went up over the mountains; They flowed down into the valleys, To the place which You founded for them. You have set a boundary that they may not pass over, in order that they may not return again to cover the earth" [God's promise.]
Here the Psalmist explained how God had laid the foundations of the earth, then He covered it with waters which stood above the mountains during the flood. Yet, at God's command these same waters fled away into valleys which God prepared for them so they would never flood the earth again. We believe God pushed the mountains and land masses upward to greater elevations. He also made deeper crevasses and valleys in the ocean floors in order to provide a place so these great quantities of water could run off the land. We believe the Bible's answer for our two great questions about Noah's flood waters.
We conclude from these Bible verses that our world, as we know it now, had a special new beginning after the flood. The ark rested, the waters receded, and Noah and his three sons and their wives began anew to repopulate the earth. Everyone listening today has descended from Noah and his three sons.
Weather conditions of the new world would be a good bit different after the flood than compared with its climate before the flood. Let us try to understand some of the weather conditions and changes that must have followed the flood.
AN ICE AGE? Our first question is: "Do you believe there truly was an ice age? If so, when was it?" Even today we still have glaciers and the remnant of the ice caps on both the north and south poles. Ice is still piled several miles in height, that is, mountains of ice, thousands of feet high! But when and how were these ice caps formed? From the Bible we know that such ice caps could not have existed before or during the flood.
The collapse of earth's water canopy during the flood destroyed the earth's "green house" atmosphere which, until then, had been enjoyed all over the world, from pole to pole. In fact the weather at the poles for the very first time became very cold, even well below freezing temperatures! And with oceans of warm water covering three fourths of the earth's surface, this had to be a source for evaporating immense quantities of warm water. Atmospheric air currents carried much of the evaporated moisture to the cold polar regions where it deposited as snow and packed into ice. We know that snow, piled sufficiently high, will pack into ice under the pressure of the overburden. This is how we believe the enormous ice caps were formed on both poles by the gradual evaporative cooling of the warm oceans. We believe that the special weather conditions after the flood are the only time in world history which would support the formation of the glaciers of ice caps on both north and south poles of Planet Earth.
The Bible places the year of Noah's flood approximately 2,350 years before Christ. Genesis 11 tells the story of the tower of Babel which event was about 100 to 150 years after the flood. We believe the ice age was forming during that same time.
The earliest Bible mentioning of snow and ice is found in Job. Job 6:15 -16 reads, "…the streams of the brooks that pass away, Which are dark because of the ice , And into which the snow vanishes." Job mentioned "snow water" in 9:30 and 24:19. Job lived before the time of Abraham so this places the Job as living during Genesis 11.
We need to discuss several important questions to help explain global warming. Let's assume for the moment that water which evaporated from the warm oceans froze into snow and produced ice caps on both north and south poles. Let us also assume that the ice caps extended as far as one or two thousand miles in all directions from the poles, downward toward the equator from the North Pole and upward from the South Pole. This would give the earth an ice free band or belt of habitable surface encircling the earth about 8,000 miles from top to bottom, north to south, between the polar ice caps, centered on the equator. Think of this strip as a wide belt banding the earth around the middle.
Think also about the climate in this habitable zone between the two ice caps. Do you think the average temperature in the area near the equator would be cooler than we experience to day, about the same as today, or warmer than today? A moment's reflection will convince you that the climate would be a good bit cooler with enormous frozen ice caps on its north and south borders.
What changes would have occurred in level of the seas and oceans? Do you believe the level of the oceans would be higher, the same level, or lower than today because of the great quantities of water evaporating from the oceans and depositing as snow on the polar caps. Once again a little reflection will convince you that the sea level would be substantially lowered by the tremendous quantities of water evaporated from the warm oceans and deposited as snow and ice on the polar caps.
A study of maps and ocean depths will also show that if the world's sea level were lowered only 200 feet below today's level, a continuous land bridge would connect all the major land masses of the world. By the simple means of walking, all of mankind and the animals could migrate and spread all over the world according to God's command to Noah. Think of that!
It is also a fact that a large part of these great glaciers of ice have melted over the centuries following the flood. This has caused sea levels to gradually rise and that various land masses would become isolated and their animal populations stranded. There would be no further interaction with other areas.
If the thought of lower sea levels in the past seems strange at first, you have only to learn about the findings of deep sea divers in many places along the ocean shores today. Divers have recently discovered man-made harbor facilities 100 to 200 feet down along many shore lines. This is exactly what we believe was the case following the ice age. We conclude that these harbor facilities of the ancient world were simply submerged as the sea levels raised as the ice caps melted. We believe all these evidences support both logically and biblically the idea of one, and only one, world wide flood of Genesis 6-9.
We suggest that during the centuries from the time of the flood to the present, it can be easily proved that the ice caps have melted in great quantities such that they are not nearly as large as they used to be. All these changes are evident, and the resulting changes in weather and temperature confirm the global warning trend. We believe global warming has continued from the time of the ice age to our present time. We also believe it will continue until the earth finally reaches a condition called "steady state." We could recognize "steady state" as the condition where there would be no further global warming or cooling. Glaciers that melt during the summers would completely refreeze in the winters. Global warming would then be a thing of the past.
Scientists tell us that the sun is slowly burning up and shrinking in size. Be it ever so slow, would not a smaller sun contribute to Global Cooling? Further-more, what keeps the hot molten mass of the earth's core so hot? Who (or what) is fueling or keeping it hot? Must not that source of energy gradually diminish? And if so, would not that situation also tend toward Global Cooling? Indeed it would.
Our thoughts about global warming were gleaned from the Bible. If correct, is it reasonable to believe that the present behavior of the human race has anything to do with Global warming? Can the world governments, if they spent every dollar in their budgets, do anything to cause or stop global warming? We understand that many people pay little or no attention to the Bible, but we know of no better guide. And if we can trust the Bible for our eternal blessing and welfare, can we not also trust God through His book how to live in our present environment? We encourage every listener to trust the Lord and His word, the Bible, without reserve. The Bible tells us of God's love expressed in Christ's death for our sins on Calvary's cross. By our trusting Him as Savior, God bestows on us all His riches and grace of salvation and eternal glory. Amen.