Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Dominion Wisdom

 In the first chapter of Genesis the concept of God granting dominion to humanity in terms of creation care is an important topic. Genesis 1 is a narrative of divine creation activity. It deals with science—the geologic history of Planet Earth and the history of life, including human life—the pinnacle of God’s creative activity. The chapter also deals with theology. God had redemption of humanity in mind before the creation event: I Corinthians 2:7—before time began; 2 Timothy 1:9—before the beginning of time; Titus 1:2—before the beginning of time; and Ephesians 1:4—before the creation of the world (All quotes from the NIV). Even human salvation is an act of divine creation.

In Genesis 1, humanity was granted dominion (authority, influence, jurisdiction, or control) over many types of living things. In verses 2, 6, 7, 9, and 10, water was the focus of attention. Light energy had been created at the first instant of the creation event. However, light did not appear at Earth’s surface until “darkness…over the face of the deep” was dispelled. God established a permanent water cycle. Verses 6-7 describe accurately, but without much detail, the conditions necessary for a stable water cycle.


In just a few verses we are informed of the appearance of light on our planet’s surface, the reality of a stable water cycle, the appearance of swarms of living creatures on creation days five and six, and the creation of humans on day six. The Creator of All Things ultimately gives instructions to mankind to “have dominion” over the broad variety of creatures mentioned in the initial chapter.


Based on the importance of our “water world” planet, we might better understand the Creator’s mandate for human dominion. All life depends on water. Agricultural success depends on an adequate supply of water. Psalm 8:6-8 states “You have given him (man) dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.” (ESV) These verses in the Book of Job 38:25-27 mirror the Genesis mandates for humanity to exercise dominion over Earth’s water resources: “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass?”


Humanity has fallen far short of wise dominion governing the water resources of Planet Earth. Many national jurisdictions are dismantling dams along streams and rivers. In the USA, there are 91,804 dams impounding water along national streams. Many dams are being dismantled because they generated significant environmental problems. Dams have been built ranging from a few feet to hundreds of feet in height. Dams were built for various beneficial purposes—flood control, irrigation, hydroelectric power, and recreation to name a few.


Knowledge of water control infrastructure reveals serious downsides to the presence of dams all over the world. There are over 800,000 dams on Earth, including 60,000 large dams, according to ResearchGate. Dams (1) change the course of rivers (2) block  spawning fish migration (3) trap sediments and waste (4) alter the habitat within impounded reservoirs (5) cause loss of water by evaporation (6) disrupt ecological networks such as food webs (7) impound large quantities of water, the source of some greenhouse gases such as methane and (8) reduce fertile silt on river flood plains.


In the early 19th century very few dams had been constructed across the US. Public works projects consisted mainly of canals. Projects involving dams were unusual or rare. Problems involving dams mentioned in the preceding paragraph were virtually non-existent. The pure waters of the Great Lakes and our historic water resources across the country were not plagued by building of thousands of dams which have frequently produced more problems than benefits.


The Great Lakes are symbols of ancient transformational miracles. Another transformational miracle is described in Genesis 1:7-8—the establishment of Earth’s water cycle. The last glacial episode on Earth ended about 12,000 years ago. The ice sheet bulldozed the basins of the Great Lakes before ir melted away. Present day precipitation accounts for current Great Lakes water fueled by Earth’s well-established water cycle. 

 

Ice Ages are transformational miracles from our Divine Creator. A well-established water cycle is a good example of a transformational miracle. Before the European settlers arrived, Native Americans had occupied the North American continent for thousands of years. Pollution of our water resources was not an issue. But with the rapid world population explosion from one billion souls to eight billion from 1800 to the present day, mankind struggles with water resources. In that light we may better understand the human dilemma concerning the building and removal of dams.


Modern societies must avoid going beyond the divine provisions of transformational miracles to modify the environment in a damaging manner. God’s mandate to exercise dominion wisdom is more clearly understood.


We link this 11-21-2017 post on transformational miracles:


https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2017/11/transformational-creation-miracles.htm


 


  




  




  

  

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Appearing and Disappearing Lakes

 Earth’s lakes are temporary planetary features. In the experience of many Earth residents, lakes appear to be permanent features on our landscape. Who can forget memorable lake house family vacations of our youth? Or swimming, boating, and camping adventures at the lake on a weekend family getaway? Meteorologically, some news reports during recent years may affirm that lakes are geologically temporary. Planet Earth is often described as a water world. How we manage our water resources  including how water is distributed to every section of the planet is linked to humanity’s wise dominion over all the earth.

Lake Tulare in the state of California is an example of the nature of lakes which alternately appear, disappear, and reappear. Its present size is 178 square miles. Beginning in late 2022 the state of California experienced a heavy onslaught of atmospheric rivers. This meteorological term was first proposed barely three decades ago. The phenomenon is a fascinating description initially described by MIT climate scientists. A NOAA article describes these features as “a flowing column of condensed water vapor in the atmosphere responsible for producing significant levels of rain and snow, especially in the western United States.”


In terms of the impact of more well-known climate phenomena such as hurricanes, blizzards, or droughts, atmospheric rivers have the potential to alter physical conditions of entire geographic regions. Readers could agree that the appearance of a large lake where lush farmland existed for decades fits this description. Lake Tulare in California earns many headlines. California’s recent deluge of atmospheric rivers is stealing headlines away from more familiar meteorological events.


In the early 19th century Tulare Lake existed in California as the largest lake west of the Mississippi River. The decades long drought was unusual. In 1861, Californians were praying for relief from a two decades-long drought. The answer came with a vengeance. Thousands of humans and farm animals perished in a 43-day surge of rain. It was an early example of the atmospheric river phenomenon. Sixty-six inches of rain fell in Los Angeles—four times the normal amount. Muddy water formed for miles across California’s central valley. California residents spent much of the late 19th century trying to get rid of a natural feature which had existed for thousands of years.


Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow regions in the atmosphere, like rivers in the sky. Rivers in the sky imagery is appropriate. These rivers transport huge amounts of water  from tropical regions.  The typical atmospheric river carries an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Exceptionally strong atmospheric rivers can transport up to 15 times that amount. They release this water vapor in the form of rain or snow. 


Practices of European explorers and California settlers have not always been characterized by wise “creation care.” The large size of Lake Tulare supplied plentiful food for native Americans populating the area for the past several thousand years. Native Americans have been threatened not only by settlers who wanted to remove the native peoples from their homeland, but also by government actions to drain Lake Tulare in the late 19th century in order to harvest its agricultural bounty. 


The Creator assigned significant authority to humanity to manage our planetary home with wisdom. There are many dimensions to the authority and dominion God transferred to humanity. The dominion extended to management of water and mineral resources, wildlife, and humanity itself. Our focus in this post primarily relates to water resources, but humanity’s authority and dominion is clearly broad-based. 


A familiar Bible passage in the Book of Genesis uses the term dominion in relation to how humanity should manage fish, birds, livestock, andall the earth….” (Genesis 1:27). Dominion is a term Bible commentators have attempted to define. With respect to how humanity should exercise care for God’s creation, we discovered a relevant comment on having dominion over all the earth: “Cruel exploitation is NOT condoned while careful use without abuse is permitted and expected.” (Quote from Biblical Hermeneutics — Stack Exchange) This includes the magnificent water resources by which life is sustained on our “water world planet.”



  











    










  

 


  

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Re-wind of Total Solar Eclipse

  In August 2017 I was privileged to fulfill a life-long bucket list goal of observing a total solar eclipse. The rare event took place a full day’s drive from our home in far Northwest Illinois. The exact date and time of the rare astronomical event in Carbondale, IL had been publicized for several years. We had faith that the weather would cooperate to provide us with ideal conditions on the day of the eclipse. Plans were made to overnight in Springfield IL, halfway between our home and the eclipse venue. Weather in Carbondale was ideal on August 21, 2017.

A total solar eclipse is an event few Earth residents ever witness. Successful observation depends on one’s location in the moon’s umbra. Since the Sun is much larger than the moon, straight line sun rays pass the edge of the lunar body and converge on a very small area on our planet. Observers in a high-altitude airplane would observe a small circular shadow moving across the surface of the earth. Its movement across Earth’s surface is linked to movements of a rotating and revolving  Earth and a revolving moon. Depending on the exact configuration of the Sun, Moon, and Earth on the day of a total solar eclipse, the shadow races across Earth’s surface at 1100 mph or more. Residents outside the umbra see a partial solar eclipse.


On 4/8/2024 North America will be treated to another outstanding total solar eclipse. The narrow path of totality will travel southwest to northeast across the Eastern US from Mexico to Canada. The 2017 event traced a generally west to east swath across the lower 48 US states. The path of totality was 71 miles wide in 2017 but projected to be 122 miles wide in 2024. The two paths of totality cross in the vicinity of Carbondale IL. Residents in this small area will be able to view totality twice in less than seven years. One writer calculated there is less than one chance in 40,000 that any one location could view totality twice in such a short time interval. The timeline for viewing a total solar eclipse is considerably less. On average, the figure is about 375 years. A partial solar eclipse is not particularly rare. Partial solar eclipses can be viewed thousands of miles away from the path of totality. These solar eclipses are more common but far less spectacular than a total solar eclipse.    


Solar and lunar eclipses occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are in line. Solar eclipses occur only at new moon phase; lunar eclipses occur only at full moon. Total lunar eclipses are not especially rare because half of earth residents can view a lunar eclipse when the moon passes into the relatively huge shadow of the earth. The moon is totally eclipsed for up to two hours.


In contrast, a total solar eclipse is visible to observers on Earth for only a few seconds to seven minutes. The 2017 total solar eclipse observed by your blog author lasted two minutes and 37 seconds. The total solar eclipse of 2024 will supply four minutes and eight seconds of totality in Carbondale IL. Thousands of people will converge on that city on April 8 as will many millions of people in cities to the northeast where totality occurs. The 122-mile-wide shadow does not linger over one location very long as it races over earth’s surface at 1100 mph.


Following is a link to our blog post of 8/23/2017 where we recounted our total eclipse experience in Carbondale, IL. The post describes many details of our experience of awe and worship:


https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2017/08/eclipse-everest-experience.html


Many Scripture verses call attention to signs in the Moon, Earth, and Sun—generally, a physical darkening. There have been many solar and lunar eclipses since these words of Scripture were penned. Numerically, there have been well over 2000 of each. Most eclipses are unusual and spectacular. But a quotation from GotQuestions is appropriate: “Trying to calculate the timing of end-times events based on astronomical phenomena is not something the Bible calls us to do.” See Matthew 24, especially culminating with verse 36: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” 


We prefer to highlight the “wonderful repeating clockwork of the God-authored Solar System,” a statement we infer from many articles on astronomy. As we research many statistics on dates, times, and locations of past and future eclipse events, we are overwhelmed by the mathematical expertise of many contemporary astronomers and their ability to communicate knowledge to ordinary laypeople.    

     


 





  


  


 

  


 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Planet Earth: Governed by Cycles

 Cycles are a defining characteristic of all living things. We introduce this post by reminding readers that there is no persuasive evidence that any type of life exists anywhere else in this enormous universe. Given the truth of this statement, we devote this post to one of the defining characteristics of life on Earth—the existence of ubiquitous cycles. 

Our last post highlighted solstices and equinoxes, cyclical astronomical phenomena which allow for changing seasons and create ideal agricultural conditions. These unique conditions are life-friendly. For instance, recurring cyclical seasonal changes together with the well-known water cycle and numerous chemical cycles support the lives of billions of individual humans and millions of animal and plant species. Sustaining miracles described in Genesis Chapter 1 supply hundreds of environmental conditions designed by The Creator of All Things. Cycles are vitally important for our planetary operating system. 

Cycles are sequences of repeating events recurring multiple times in the same order. Cyclical events rule our daily lives even when we are not aware of them. We cite a few examples of cycles by categories:


Physical  Science: energy cycles, chemical cycles


Biological Science: life cycles, agricultural cycles, carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, oxygen cycle, water cycle


Earth Science: astronomy cycles, climate cycles, geological cycles, rock cycles


Without numerous interrelated and interlocking cyclical events the planet as we know it could not function. Knowledge of cyclical events in the natural world is an invaluable apologetic for the existence of the omniscient Creator of All Things, the Divine Designer of our intricately designed planetary home. An interesting phrase is “biogeochemical cycle” which describes interrelationships of many different types of cycles operating on our planetary home. Brittanica defines the term as “any of the natural pathways by which the essential elements of living matter are circulated.” The term is “a contraction of the biological, geological, and chemical aspects of each cycle. Elements within the biogeochemical cycles flow in various forms from the nonliving (abiotic) components of the biosphere to the living (biotic) components and back. 


Human life and the lives of at least 8.7 million animal and plant species known on Earth depend on the operation of multiple cycles. Modern agriculture depends on a number of chemical cycles—the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the oxygen cycle, and the water cycle, to name only a few. Below, we recycle several posts from our 2012 archive. The cycle concept is highlighted in each post:


https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2012/01/jobs-water-cycle-tutorial.html

https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2012/03/oxygen-for-ages.html

https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2012/03/nitrogen-renewal.html

https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2012/03/carbon-sequence.html

https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2012/03/cycles-by-design.html



 

    




 

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Solstices and Equinoxes

 At the Christmas and New Year holiday season Earth residents celebrate significant astronomical milestones.

Annual calendars reference seasons and lesser known events such as solstices and equinoxes. We become aware of environmental phenomena such as seasonal changes resulting in changing temperatures. Each year about December 22, Northern Hemisphere residents experience the winter solstice. Events such as solstices and equinoxes, important topics in the study of astronomy, occur twice per year.  

The winter solstice locates the season of the longest daily period of darkness and the shortest daily period of daylight during the calendar year. At about 40º N latitude, longest darkness translates to approximately fifteen hours of darkness and nine hours of daylight. The solstice also roughly locates the dates on which earliest sunset times pair with latest sunrise times.


We are aware of long and short daylight as well as early sunsets and late sunrises depending on our latitude. On a summer visit to Anchorage, Alaska, we visited stores open for business at 10:30 PM. Farther north we could have experienced “the land of the midnight sun.” Variations in day/night lengths and sunrise/sunset times depend on latitude and the time of year. In the northern hemisphere we experience the winter solstice in December. Our southern hemisphere friends experience their summer solstice in December, because their seasons are reversed.          


Some may not be familiar with the effect of changing angles of sunlight striking the earth’s surface from season to season. Summer’s direct rays provide more heat than winter’s indirect rays. In winter, the same amount of heat energy is spread over a larger area. Diluted heat energy results in lower temperatures. All of these effects contribute to seasonal temperature variation. These temperature phenomena provide topics of conversation for friends and neighbors.


Meteorology and astronomy are innately related. Those sciences provide plentiful opportunities for studying and understanding cause and effect relationships. Astronomy is considered an earth science because what occurs in space affects events on earth. There are fascinating interconnections between the different sciences. For example, the solstices mentioned above are astronomical phenomena, but they significantly relate to weather and climate.  


Teachers of astronomy use a number of devices to clarify astronomical concepts. One device was a celestial sphere consisting of a transparent plastic globe. Inside was a small earth globe students could manually rotate. On the plastic sphere prominent stars and constellations of the sky were imprinted. Students were able to visualize that they were located on the small earth globe inside the large sphere. In real life, earth residents gaze at the night sky and imagine individual stars and groupings of stars called constellations located on an imaginary sphere surrounding our planet. In reality, all celestial objects are located at various distances from our planet—some close, some light years away.


The celestial sphere model helps us understand some of the most important astronomical concepts. On our classroom celestial sphere model there were two great circles. One great circle was the “celestial equator” formed by extending the plane of the earth’s equator out to the plastic sphere. Another great circle was formed by extending the plane of the earth’s orbit out to the celestial sphere. (We cannot visualize the plane of the earth’s orbit from our plastic celestial globe model. But we can see where the plane of earth’s orbit crosses the model’s celestial equator.) The two great circles cross each other twice at an angle of 23.5º because earth’s axis of rotation is tilted 23.5º from the plane of the earth’s equator.


On our celestial sphere model, astronomers have plotted celestial coordinates of two great circles—the celestial equator and the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the great circle formed by the path traced by the position of the sun throughout the year. We link a post from 10/18/2011 which explains the concept of the great circle in our skies called the ecliptic: https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2011/10/bible-zodiac.html  The term “zodiac” helps us understand the concept of the ecliptic.


The ecliptic locates an infinite number of sun positions. It also locates several solar positions EXACTLY ON, at the HIGHEST POINT, and at the LOWEST POINT in relation to the celestial equator. When the sun is located exactly ON the celestial equator we experience an equinox—equal night and day. When the winter solstice occurs, the sun apparently stands still for a few days at its lowest point above the horizon, neither rising nor falling. The sun is close to the horizon and at many latitudes the temperature is COLD. Six months later when the summer solstice occurs, the sun again stands still for a few days at it highest location above the horizon. The sun is highest in the sky and the temperature is WARM.


If the axis of the earth were not tilted there would be no equinoxes, no solstices, and no seasons. We close our discussion of solstices and equinoxes with a link to our 2017 post—Earth Without Seasons. There is much to learn about God’s master plan to provide for the physical welfare of teeming billions of Earth residents. God provides for not only man’s spiritual welfare but also man’s physical welfare.


http://jasscience.blogspot.com/2017/10/earth-without-seasons.html