Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sawtooth Miracle

Recently, I was in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Looking up at one of the towering peaks it was obvious where the mountains got their name. It was a huge, spiked tower of rock rising 2000 feet above me. All down the side of the mountain in front of me was a field of boulders of all sizes.

Sitting on a Toyota-sized boulder embedded in a creek my mind went to work. Either a massive landslide had occurred at some time in the distant past, or gradually, piece by piece, rocks of varying sizes had tumbled down the mountain and into the creek bed where I sat.

“If these rocks are continuously breaking off and rolling down the mountain, then the Sawtooths are getting smaller,” I thought. For every rock that comes down, whether it’s the size of a cantaloupe or the Toyota-sized one I sat on, the cliff-like mountains above diminish. It seemed certain that nothing can be done about it. I scanned the pock-marked cliffs above, worried about the fact that my tent was so close to the slide area.

The Bible says God made the mountains. “… His hands formed the dry land.” (1) But is there any purpose in this seemingly random event, this gradual breaking down of the mountains? In searching for an answer we can consider two facts about the mountains.

We have mountains!

First is the fact that mountains exist at all. Scientists say the mountains formed in the distant past as the result of “plate tectonics.” As superheated magma rose up from the earth’s core, gigantic plates of the earth’s crust moved and volcanic activity took place. These massive chunks of plate were forced downward and others upward resulting in… the Sawtooth mountains! “Then God said… ‘let the dry land appear’; and it was so” . (2)

Earth is the only planet in the Solar System that has mountain ranges formed this way. That is because the Earth alone, among the planets, has a molten core making it “live.” Mars, in contrast, is a “dead” planet with no interior heat. There are no known Sawtooth Mountains, Himalayas, or Rockies elsewhere in the solar system, although there are individual volcanic peaks on Mars (now dormant) and elsewhere. One of the things that make the Earth unique are mountain ranges.

If it’s too hot… turn down the thermostat

Secondly, the mountains exist for more than just the view. The affects of weather on the mountains gradually erodes and breaks them down. That causes the landslides that I saw. This process is called weathering. Scientists believe that as these rocks break down, particularly granite and limestone, that they react chemically with the atmosphere. The result is that the greenhouse gas (CO2) levels are affected. The net result is that the crumbling of the Sawtooth Mountains is part of an enormous thermostat system for the Earth. Two University of Washington scientists say, “Weathering of rocks … (such as granite) plays a crucial part in regulating the planetary thermostat… as a planet warms, … weathering on its surface increases… more carbon dioxide is removed, thus causing cooling. Yet as the planet cools, … weathering decreases, and the CO2 content of the atmosphere begins to rise, causing warming to occur.”(3) So every boulder that falls off the Sawtooth Mountains is part of a massive stabilizing effect in keeping the Earth’s temperature conducive to life.

Even something we take for granted like the existence of mountains or rocks falling off cliffs has a purpose in God’s creation. It is awe-inspiring to consider how brilliant God is in all He has made. So sleep tight tonight… but not too close to a mountain, God just might adjust the temperature.

(1) Psalm 95:5, New American Standard Bible (NASB)
(2) Genesis 1:9, New American Standard Bible (NASB)
(3) Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee, “Rare Earth,” (New York: Copernicus Books, 2000), 210

Quotes of Note ... The Invisible World

“Spiritual warfare is learning to recognize the strategies, refusing to cooperate with them, and aggressively cutting off the schemes of the devil in Jesus’ name.” Dean Sherman

“those who protest that God cannot exist because there is too much evil evident in life… Evil exists; therefore, the Creator does not. That is categorically stated… If evil exists, one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendingly true at all times, regardless of whether I believed it or not.” Ravi Zacharias

“But the Devil is no big threat to God’s purposes; he is not even remotely comparable in power. He has been given a limited time before his final judgment to try to prove his case, just as all other moral beings who have chosen to live in rebellion against heaven.” W.A. Pratney

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I've served as a life-long missionary in Samoa, the Pacific region, India, and now in Pennsylvania. The Christian faith is reasonable and works in real life. It is true to the facts. Hope you enjoy some of the thoughts. I appreciate feedback.

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