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:







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.”