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: