In recent weeks Earth residents have been reminded of many dynamic planetary events which generated not only wonder, but also discomfort and even tragedy. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes may rank at the top of this spectrum. Not far behind are blizzards (such as a noteworthy blizzard many US states are experiencing as I write), cold waves, heat waves, floods, and droughts. We might ask, “Is Planet Earth a place of tragedy, or a place to thrive?” The range of tragedies is very broad. Degrees of thriving also occur at different levels along a broad spectrum. Humanity may either thrive or experience tragedy depending on how he responds to ever-present natural hazards.
Weather observers on Planet Earth have published references to Hawaiian volcanoes since late November 2022: Mauna Loa had just awakened to activity. Since then, volcanic activity has diminished, but other dynamic earth processes have been active. For example, an earthquake in California recently generated concern for residents of that state. A 6.4 magnitude earthquake rocked a region of Northern California. In late September 2022 powerful Hurricane Ian struck South Florida, crossing the peninsula from west to east. It claimed 146 lives in the state as the strongest hurricane since the 1935 Labor Day hurricane. Florida residents are still in “clean-up” mode. In mid- December the southern US coped with several tornadoes in five states. Our planet has been rocked by similar disasters since Old Testament times and long before.
The Apostle Paul described what was probably a hurricane in Acts 27:14 while his ship was caught in a tempestuous wind while sailing by the island of Crete. Job’s children perished in a “great wind,” probably a tornado, from across the wilderness (Job 1:19). Job 36-37 describes a variety of weather events: whirlwinds, lightning, thunder, mighty downpours, snow, and ice. The OT books of Amos and Zechariah specifically mention a historic earthquake in the days of Uzziah. Of course, even Christ himself referenced the Mesopotamian flood as did the authors of Hebrews and Peter. Verses in Psalm 104:32 and Psalm144:5 suggest “smoking mountains,” probably volcanoes. as works of God. Other Bible passages characterize our Creator as the author of many mighty natural wonders.
What scientific laws governed and still govern these planetary phenomena? Answer: There are at least two laws—the Law of Entropy, and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. The laws are related, but they do not mean exactly the same thing. The 2nd law states that energy only flows from high states of energy to lower states of energy. For instance, a container of hot water left in a cold room will always cool to the temperature of the room—never the other way around. There are many examples from the standpoint of organization or order in physical systems. In this example the Law of Entropy quantifies heat flow in recognizable scientific units to affirm that physical systems always tends toward more, not less disorder. In other words, entropy (disorder) increases. The 2nd Law speaks of the natural tendency of physical systems to run downhill.
In the world of planetary geologic and meteorological phenomena there is a wealth of knowledge where we can apply the principles of entropy and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. The term thermodynamics applies to the relationships between heat and other forms of energy. When God created the Heavens and the Earth (Gen. 1:1) He also established physical laws governing our planet. Such laws control weather, geologic processes, and all physical systems originated by the Creator. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics produces some outcomes that Earth residents find unpleasant. Examples are listed in our first paragraph.
Our Planet Earth has existed for millions of years as a solid celestial body. The history of Planet Earth clearly indicates that geologic and meteorological processes have provided desirable volcanic recycling and beneficial water recycling events still prevalent on Earth to this day. These processes and many others allow life to exist and thrive on our unique planet.
Are these ancient processes in keeping with the will of The Creator? Our response is an unequivocal, “Yes.” According to Genesis 1-2 God pronounced His creation “good or very good” on six different occasions. The 2nd Law is the foundation of a marvelous divine physical operating system. Our Creator designed our planetary operating systems for the ultimate benefit of humanity. Generally, humanity thrives on our planet. This planet, however, is not our permanent, eternal home—a topic more appropriately addressed by theologians.