First Baptist Church of Rahway, 177 Elm Ave., Rahway, New Jersey 07065 is a multi-cultural congregation that has a Blended English Service on Sunday Mornings, a Latino Service at 12:00, and a Service in Telugu at 3:30PM. For more information, call (732) 388-8626. Or click here to send an email. If you wish to help the Mission and Ministry of First Baptist financially click the Donate Button.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
If Not for Earthquakes, We Wouldn’t Be Here
In this writing I hope that I can give a reasonable answer to the eternal question; why does God cause disasters? A recent article found in Christian Chronicle quotes people asking this question in Japan while cleaning up after the earthquake and tsunami. Lots of theologians have attempted to answer this question, but there is also a geological answer that you may not be aware of. If not for earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis, life on Earth wouldn’t exist. Let me explain.
Earth is located at just the right distance from the Sun to sustain life. Venus is a little too close and so the surface is too hot. Mars is also within the habitable zone and could have abundant life on it as well, but doesn’t. Why not? The answer has to do with Earth’s molten core and the lack of one on Mars.
Earth’s core is mostly iron, and is heated through pressure and radioactivity. We have lots of uranium inside our world, and that keeps the core of our planet good and hot. The heat and pressure causes the molten iron to move around a lot, called convection. When molecules get hot they expand and move away from each other. That movement of massive amounts of metal causes several beneficial occurrences. First, early planetary volcanism filled our atmosphere with carbon dioxide. Being a greenhouse gas it warmed up our world and laid the foundation for plant life to use the carbon as food and spew out the oxygen as a byproduct. We in turn, benefit from the spewed out oxygen. The second outcome of a molten metallic core is our magnetic field. The earth is surrounded by a very large and powerful magnetic field that blocks much of the radiation aimed at our planet from the Sun. Without our magnetic field, the radiation falling on our planet wouldn’t just give us a sun burn, but would be too deadly for any life to eke out a sad little existence. The solar wind that the sun produces would also interact with our atmosphere and push the molecules in it away from our planet. In other words, no more atmosphere. Sadly this is what happened to Mars.
Our red neighbor is much smaller than Earth. As a result, the radioactive elements in its core were not sufficient to keep the core molten. At one time in the distant past, Mars had a molten core, because there are dead volcanoes on the surface. At one time Mars had an atmosphere similar to ours, because there are signs of dead rivers and lakes on the surface. Unfortunately, by the time we came along, the core has cooled down and the magnetic field has disappeared. The atmosphere that sustained flowing water on the surface was blown away by the solar wind and the planet has become the home of deserts, dust storms and NASA rovers.
Since we don’t want to end up as thirsty sun burned Martians, we need our molten metal core to keep producing our protective magnetic field which keeps our life sustaining atmosphere intact. But our life sustaining molten metal core means earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. Shake your fist at God when natural disasters strike, but without the planetary forces that cause these problems, we wouldn’t be here to complain.
Which leaves the question, why did God make it this way in the first place? I will give you my two simple answers for this. First, because it works. The forces of the cosmos are perfectly balanced to allow us to exist on this wonderful world. But the same forces that give us life are also very destructive. So even though we live on the edge of a knife, the system works brilliantly. Second, if you believe in God and if you believe that God has an eternal plan for you, it all makes perfect sense. For those of us with faith, our lives here are just a small part of the eternal universe adventure that God has in store for us. If an earthquake causes my house to fall in on me, I will continue to live on in the ever expanding cosmos. Hopefully someday I will truly see all of the good that comes from the bad, and understand God’s plan more than I can today. In the meantime, I thank God everyday for this incredible creation and the precise design that makes my life and yours possible.
God bless you,
Pastor Bill Whitehead