SPACEWATCH, SPACEGUARD and the BIBLE
(Investigator 176, 2017 September)
Part 2 (Link to Part
Part 1 of Spacewatch,
Spaceguard and the Bible (#171) showed that:
Earth is at risk of asteroid impacts; a big impact could
eradicate humans and all their cities;
b) 1700 "potentially hazardous"
near-earth-objects were known by 2016;
c) Spacewatch and Spaceguard projects
are established in many countries;
d) The Bible has "enigmatic passages"
that apparently predict an impact from Space.
Part 2 is more theological and analyses pertinent verses in the Bible.
Small asteroids are hitting Earth or Moon, or narrowly missing,
regularly. Adelaide’s Sunday
A meteor slammed into
the moon in March, causing an explosion so bright anyone looking up at
the right moment would have spotted it… About 300 lunar impacts have
been logged over the years… It is understood the space rock, estimated
to be about 40cm and weighing 40kg, left a 20m-wide crater…
(19 May, 2013, p. 15)
On February 15, 2013 a 45-metre-wide asteroid missed Earth by 30,000
km. On the same day another, smaller, asteroid disintegrated above
Chelyabinsk in Russia. Seven thousand buildings in six cities were
damaged and 1500 people injured.
The United Nations has designated June 30th International Asteroid Day
to be observed annually. It remembers the 100-metre-wide asteroid that
exploded above Siberia in 1908 and flattened 2000km2 of
Asteroids have history-changing potential. If the 1908 asteroid had
exploded above London in 1916 then Germany would have won World War I!
British astronomer Edmund Halley (1656-1742) commented on the massive
destruction a comet impact would cause. For the next two centuries most
scientists considered the idea of rocks from Space hitting Earth
nonsense. This changed around 1980 with the discovery that an asteroid
impact wiped out the dinosaurs 65,000,000 years ago.
Hundreds of impact craters are now known on Earth. For example:
35,000,000 years ago the 100-kilometre Popigai crater in Siberia
and the 85-kilometre Chesapeake Bay crater occurred only 10,000 years
apart. Hecht (2004)
• A 480-km-wide structure, discovered
via gravity measurements, beneath Antarctica's ice, is believed to be a
crater created by a 48-km-wide asteroid. (Sunday Mail, June 4, 2006, p.
• Even bigger impacts occurred
earlier, and produced tsunamis that circled the planet! (Genesis 1:2,
GENESIS 19 and BRIMSTONE
|The LORD rained
on Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur
from the LORD out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities… (Genesis
…by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to
ashes he condemned them
to extinction and made them an example of what is coming to the
ungodly… (II Peter 2:4-6)
… the heavens will pass away with a loud noise,
and the elements will
be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it
will be burned up. (II Peter 3:10)
The above quotes are from the NRSV Bible. The King
has "brimstone" rather than "sulphur".
The Hebrew word is gophrith
and occurs 7 times in the Old Testament.
(Genesis 19:24; Deuteronomy 29:23; Job 18:15; Psalm 11:6; Isaiah 30:33;
34:9; Ezekiel 38:22) The corresponding Greek word in the New Testament
is theion which also occurs 7
What is brimstone? Scholars disagree. Young's Analytical Concordance says
bitumen and pitch. Unger's Bible
Dictionary says the gum of a tree and "It was thence transferred
to all flammable substances, especially sulphur." The New Bible Dictionary (1982)
says: "a yellow crystalline solid … in regions of volcanic activity…"
Genesis associates brimstone with fire and says brimstone came from
“heaven” i.e. the sky. Brimstone is something that is “scattered” (Job
18:15) and “rains” down with a “scorching wind”. (Psalm 11:6; Ezekiel
38:22) These clues fit the description of an asteroid breaking up in
the atmosphere like the one in 1908.
THE LORD RAINED…
What does it mean "the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and
fire…"? Is the Bible teaching that God alters or directs nature to
inflict punishment on people?
The book of Job reports that
Job suffered a barrage of calamities including:
Desert raiders killed his servants and stole his oxen and donkeys;
• "Fire from God" burned up his sheep;
• A storm killed Job's sons and
• Job developed "loathsome sores"
from head to foot. (Job 1-2)
Job attributes these calamities to God. (9:17; 10:1-17) However,
Chapters 1-2 explain that God's supernatural opposer "Satan" has asked
God to stop protecting Job and God consented. (1:8-12; 2:4-6) The cause
of evil among humans, therefore, is "Satan" and God's withdrawal of
Another example is the Garden of Eden where God warns Adam "but of the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the
day that you eat you shall die." (Genesis 2:17)
The biblical position appears to be that the natural world is dangerous
and God lets bad events happen although able to prevent them. It is in
that sense — by God not intervening — that God brings evil.
By applying this principal to "the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah
sulphur and fire" it merely means that God let it happen when he could
have prevented it.
Amos wrote in the 8th century BC when Israel experienced prosperity but
suffered from social corruption and injustice. Amos foretold Israel's
destruction if conditions did not improve and emphasized the
impossibility of escape:
Though they dig into
Sheol, from there my hand will take them; though they climb up to
heaven, from there I will bring them down. Though they hide themselves
on the top of Carmel, from there I will search out and take them; and
though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea, there I will
command the serpent, and it shall bite them. (Amos 9:2-3)
In Old Testament times Israel was God's people. (Psalm 135:12; 148:14)
In New Testament times all nations are "ransomed" (or "purchased") for
God by Jesus having died for their sins and therefore all are God's
people. The New Testament says that ancient Israelites were "examples
for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did". (I
10:6-11; Jude 5-7) Therefore ancient Israel — like Sodom and Gomorrah —
is "an example of what is coming to the ungodly…"
In the greater, worldwide, application of Amos' prophecy, the wording
of 9:2-3 reflects escape attempts that are possible today:
Sheol — Deep underground;
• Climb up to heaven — Escape in
• Carmel — High mountains and caves
• The bottom of the sea — Nuclear
The phrase "the serpent…shall bite them" is a figure of speech (Compare
Ecclesiastes 10:8) and means that escape to the bottom of the sea will
There will be signs in the sun, the moon and the stars… (Luke 21:25)
Jesus' description of the future in Mathew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13
appears literal, not symbolic. Jesus' prophecy would guide the Church
for at least 2000 years and therefore had to be easily understood. Sun,
moon and stars therefore mean sun, moon and stars.
What are the "signs"?
"Signs" that indicate Christ's return and worldwide fire probably
include craters. The first person to see craters on the Moon was
Galileo in 1609 using the newly-invented telescope.
The word "stars" includes planets, these being "wandering stars" (Jude
13), and meteors or shooting stars. Beginning in the 1970s close-up
photos of other planets revealed them covered in craters and forced the
realization that the Solar System is like a shooting gallery with
asteroids and comets for bullets.
Stars, by the modern meaning of distant suns, became "signs" with the
discovery that stars originate through the collapse of vast clouds of
dust and debris involving trillions of collisions and impacts.
"Signs in the Sun" could include solar flares. Clark (2013) reports
that colossal blasts of radiation struck Earth in 775, 992 and 1859AD
and were likely triggered by massive asteroids 40-80km diameter hitting
the Sun. The 1859 event: "induced electricity to flow in the world's
telegraph lines, stunning operators unconscious and causing telegraph
offices to burst into flames."
Such events today would wreck the world's power grids and possibly all
Similar chaos to our electronics could come from cosmic rays which
sometimes intensify dramatically — in 1956 by 100 times! Hambling
THE DAY OF THE LORD
|But the day of
the Lord will come like a thief, and
then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements
will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done
on it will be burned up. (II Peter 3:10)
Some religions interpreted this fire symbolically. However, Peter
compares the fire with Noah’s Flood (3:1-7) and it would therefore be
as literal as the Flood.
"Heavens" refers to the sky as viewed from ground or sea level. The sky
would "pass away" after an asteroid or comet impact by getting obscured
with dust, fire, soot, smoke, rocks, and shooting stars.
II Peter says the fire starts with "a loud noise" (3:10). Even a small
event like in 1908 was heard 1000 kilometres away!
The prophet Zephaniah added:
The day of the Lord is
… a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of
clouds and thick darkness… In the fire of his [God’s] jealous
wrath, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full, yea, sudden end he
will make of all the inhabitants of the earth. (2:14-18)
Zephaniah's message, by the same argument given above for Amos 9:2-3,
applies to today's world. We see this also by the phrase "day of the
Lord" used by Zephaniah seven times (1:7, 8, 14, 14, 18; 2:2, 3) and
repeated in II Peter 3:10.
Carl Sagan (1985) wrote of widespread fire from the impact of
asteroids. But the earliest mention I've found of worldwide fire is in the book Comets, Asteroids and Meteorites
(1990). This book describes the impact of a 9-km-wide asteroid
resulting in trillions of glowing rock particles circling the world,
heating the surface to 300oC, and thick layers of soot, dust
and nitrogen oxide smog blocking sunlight and darkening Earth's surface.
Since worldwide fire on the "day of the
Lord" is part of "God's wrath" for human wickedness what should we do
| Since all
these things are to be dissolved in this
way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness
and godliness, waiting for and hastening the day of God, because of
which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements
will melt with fire? (II Peter 3:11-12)
Anonymous, Investigator #62;
Clark, S. Star Burst, New Scientist,
10 August 2013, 46-49
Clark, S. Should We Be Worried About An Asteroid Hitting Earth, Science Focus, February 2017, 60-66
Douglas, J.D. et al 1982 New Bible
Dictionary, Second Edition, Inter-Varsity
Hambling, D. Burnout, New Scientist,
27 September 2014, 42-45
Hecht, J. Dual asteroid strike hits comet theory, New Scientist, July 31, 2004, 8
Marshall, M. Seriously big rocks hit Earth's early life, New Scientist, August 2014, 11
Sagan. C. & Druyan, A. Comet,
Time-Life Books (1990) Comets,
Asteroids and Meteorites, Joseph J. Ward
Unger, F.M. 1983 Unger's Bible
Dictionary, Moody Press
Young, R. 1939 Revised edition, Analytical
Concordance To The Holy Bible, Lutterworth
scienfific discoveries anticipated in the Bible, revealed on this