Archive for May, 2014

Fossils from around the world show that the earth before Noah’s flood was very different from today. Though mainstream science currently rejects the idea that Noah’s flood left most of the fossil record, there is yet basic agreement that the earth’s climate has changed dramatically since the days of the dinosaurs. We shouldn’t overlook this general agreement between the Bible and today’s science (ref. The Story in Stone, and other posts in my November 2012 through February 2013 archives).

If you attempt an internet study of Earth’s atmosphere in dinosaur times, you will find that the mind of science continues to change, and that individual scientists disagree about many details. In this post, I’m not speaking of the climate during the various stages of the ice age which followed Noah’s flood, but of the era when the earth was covered in lush vegetation; the earlier, warmer, world inhabited by the dinosaurs.

When we think of the garden of Eden, we think of a tropical paradise, and fossils show that such a climate prevailed over the ancient earth. There’s a lot of speculation about the causes of the ancient greenhouse effect that allowed a profusion of plants, insects, and other creatures to grow to gigantic sizes. Several ideas, such as the water vapor canopy theory, once held by many creationists, have been abandoned as inadequate, yet the ancient climate must have been accompanied by differences in Earth’s atmosphere.

Interpreters of Genesis 9:9-17 differ as to whether rain, and rainbows, existed before Noah’s flood. God could have used the existing rainbow as a symbol of his covenant with life on the earth. Since the earth’s atmosphere is certain to have been different however, and conditions can be such that a rainbow would not be visible, it’s also possible that this optical phenomenon was not seen before Noah’s flood (suggested research, diffusion of light, polarization, rainbow angle etc.).

It’s also possible to have rain and condensation without a rainbow so I’m not too particular about these Bible verses, but if rainbows were not visible, that could be a clue to ancient atmospheric conditions. Science should take a closer look at the rainbow with that in mind.

Also, scientific explanations for certain aspects of the rainbow and similar optical phenomena seem unnecessarily confusing, and incomplete. Studying the rainbow, moonbow, fogbow, and in particular the Brocken spectre (an observer’s shadow cast within a “glory”), at several scientific internet sources leads to some contradictory sounding information.

The Brocken spectre defies scientific rules that apply to other “lightbows.” It gets its name from a mountain in Germany where a climber reportedly fell to his death after suddenly encountering the phenomenon. After viewing photos of the Brocken spectre on the internet, I see how it could be startling in some situations.

The size and location of water droplets, refracting and reflecting light, are said to affect the color intensity of rainbows, moonbows, and fogbows, but not their form, size, and apparent distance. The size and location of water droplets however, are usually given as a possible reason for the varying size, and apparent distance of the Brocken spectre. Why would they be different?

Science explains that refraction and reflection of light causes rainbows. Diffraction, along with refraction and reflection, is said to cause glories, and of course light from behind the observer casts the shadow of the “spectre.” If “diffraction” answers my previous question, then I must ask; is diffraction operative in the mist of fog but not in rain? That sounds possible, but to verify that answer would require more study, and then there are other questions.

I’ve noted in photographs that the size of a Brocken glory ring is practically always proportional to the size of the shadow within it. In a few photos however, it doesn’t appear to be so, but why not? Science states that a glory is visible to an observer at an angle of 5 to 20 degrees, but that doesn’t seem to explain some photos that I’ve viewed. The primary rainbow, by the way, is only visible to an observer at an angle of 42 degrees from the sun’s rays behind them, and a secondary rainbow a little higher at 51 degrees.

I’ve read that a Brocken spectre sometimes appears to move of its own due to movements of its screen of fog, whereas rainbows appear to remain stationary. These tricks of the light can be fascinating, and frustrating to understand also. The field of atmospheric optics is very complex, but I believe science could offer a more comprehensive explanation for the behavior of the various lightbows, and resolve a few contradictions in the process.

The main point of this post however, is that Genesis 8:22-9:17 is evidence that the writer of this part of the Bible was aware of extreme changes in Earth’s ancient climate. It seems to be addressing concerns that the descendants of Noah will have about Earth’s changing environment.

God now sanctions the hunting of animals, and eating of meat (Genesis 9:3) whereas man’s diet was originally vegetarian (Genesis 1:29-30). This would allow a better chance of survival in the harsh winters of an ice age. Genesis 8:22 assures Noah that, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” I think these words were intended to reassure man during changes in all these things. They are part of God’s promise; his “covenant,” that he seals with the sign of the rainbow (Genesis 9:13).

The Bible predicts further changes in the earth, changes in its relation to the sun and moon, and eventually, the destruction of the earth and heavens as we now know them (Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:12, and 21:1). Science predicts the same thing, except on a different time scale. The Bible also predicts a new heaven and a new earth. The rainbow remains a symbol of hope, and nearly everyone wants to claim the symbol as their own. I think Genesis 9:13 is interesting, because in that verse God claims the rainbow also; he calls it “my bow, … a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”

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