Monday, April 5, 2010

Earthquakes and the foolish virgins

Yesterday's earthquakes in southern California/northern Mexico got me thinking about something: with the hysteria over global warming/climate change, how do earthquakes fit into the picture? They fit into Jesus' description of the signs of His imminent return (read Matthew 24), but while floods, fire, famine and even pestilence fit the global warming/climate change paradigm, where do earthquakes and volcanos?

A check online finds there are at least a couple of scientists who are promoting a theory that some geologic activity is connected to melting glaciers and rising sea levels. This appears to go back to 2006, and resurfaced last September at a conference called "Climate Forcing of Geological Hazards" in London. (You can also find a bit of a review of the evidence in a blog posted just after the Haiti 'quake in January.)

But while the suggestion gives one cause for pause, something that leaps out at me is that even the scientists researching it -- like Patrick Wu at the University of Calgary -- admit that it's "highly speculative". One commentator notes that "no one is seriously suggesting" that any particular earthquake was caused by a melting glacier releasing pressure on tectonic plates (one of the points of the theory). And nowhere (yet) have I seen a suggestion that any human solution like eliminating human production of greenhouse gases would make those geological events any less likely.

You want to see a real connection between global warming/climate change and signs that Jesus foretold, consider that He predicted that "the love of many [would] wax cold". Do you think there isn't a link between our obsession with the environment and homelessness? Vancouver prides itself on being the "greenest" city in North America, yet it's home to "the worst postal code in Canada" for the amount of drug addiction, poverty, homelessness and crime concentrated in about 10 city blocks called the Downtown East Side. It's gotten worse over the past several years -- interestingly, as our obsession with the environment has grown. Is that coincidence? I don't think so. After all, how can you reach out and love someone in sad state if you're too busy gazing at your own navel, trying to "reduce your carbon footprint"?
As we serve the Lord in the way He told us, it follows as the night the day that we will take care of His Creation in the way that He told us, by asserting dominion over it, being fruitful and replenishing the earth and subduing it. But nowhere does He say we're to obsess over that one aspect. We focus on Him: He takes care of the rest.
That will disgust some environmentalists, because it sounds like we're not taking action; but frankly, it's a question of the right action. Remember Peter: all gung-ho to defend Jesus in the ways he thought he was supposed to, but when Jesus really needed a witness, Peter denied him.

To me, it looks like another in a series of sleights-of-hand, designed to keep us from looking at the real connection, which is that these are all signs of Jesus' return. While He said there really wasn't anything we could do about the day or hour that actually happens, He did give us instructions on what we have to do in the mean time: care for one another, heal the sick, share the Gospel; be prepared and help others to get prepared, so that when Jesus does return, we're not caught with no oil in our lamps.

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