The Bible and Hydrology
Hydrology is “a science dealing with the properties, distribution, and circulation of water on and below the earth’s surface and in the atmosphere” (m-w.com). There are many branches of hydrology, such as oceanography and meteorology. Oceanography is “a science that deals with the oceans and includes the delimitation of their extent and depth” (Ibid.). Meteorology is “a science that deals with the atmosphere and with weather” (Ibid.). There are many references to water in the Bible which reveal a scientifically accurate and modern perspective, such that it is unexplainable apart from divine revelation.
The Water-Vapor Cycle
The most important and fundamental principle of modern hydrology and meteorology is the water-vapor cycle. This cycle refers to the movement of water vapor which is condensed and precipitated as rain, sleet or snow, then drained off through the groundwater and river system into the ocean. From the ocean it is raised into the skies by evaporation and carried back over the continents by great atmospheric wind circulations. In 320 BC, Aristotle comprehended the water-vapor cycle, but it did not become an accepted fact of science until the 1840’s. The Bible records it through inspired writers who lived in 1000 and 2000 BC: “All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; to the place from which the rivers come, there they return again” (Ecclesiastes 1:7). “Behold, God is great…For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man. Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunder of His canopy?” (Job 36:26-29).
Think of how incredible it is that water vapor can condense into liquid water in the form of clouds, how these clouds can be suspended against the forces of gravity, and then moved inland to drop the water or snow over the earth. All of this is exceptional evidence of the skill and wisdom of the Creator. It was a very fitting question that Elihu asked Job 4,000 years ago: “Do you know how the clouds are balanced, those wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge?” (Job 37:16). Even with all the knowledge of modern science the answer to that question is still far from complete.
Lighting, Thunder and Rain
God “…binds up the water in the clouds, yet the clouds are not broken under it” (Job 26:8) until “with moisture He saturates the thick clouds” (Job 37:11); from a scientific standpoint, the conditions become right and the small particles of water in the clouds combine with other particles and they become heavy enough to fall to the earth. Solomon observed: “If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth…” (Ecclesiastes 11:3).
Job affirmed that God “…looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heavens, to establish a weight for the wind, and apportion the waters by measure. When He made a law for the rain, and a path for the thunderbolt…” (Job 28:24-26). Early concepts considered lighting to be a display of God’s anger, and later ideas considered it an isolated marvel of nature. In 1942 AD, the invention of radar and other research tools made possible a surprising discovery: lightning causes it to rain. 1965 AD, a laboratory simulated rainstorm occurred only when electrical energy was added, which convinced meteorologists that electricity might have something to do with water droplets forming drops large enough to fall as rain.
God said over 4,000 years ago in His series of scientific questions meant to humble Job: “Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water, or a path for the thunderbolt, to cause it to rain on a land where there is no one, a wilderness in which there is no man; to satisfy the desolate waste, and cause to spring forth the growth of tender grass?” “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that an abundance of water may cover you? Can you send out lightnings, that they may go, and say to you, ‘Here we are!’?” (Job 38:25-27, 34-35). The Psalmist said of God: “He causes the vapors (NKJV footnote: water vapor) to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries” (Psa.135:7). The important emphasis in these passages is that there is a necessary relationship between rain and electricity, there is some kind of connection between rain and lightning.
The Oceans and Seas
From ancient times man conceived the ocean floor, from shore to shore, as merely an extension of our sandy beaches. Only in recent decades have scientists discovered that the ocean floor is lined with deep channels and canyons. Great canyons practically circling the globe have been discovered in the ocean floor; some trenches are eight miles deep. Centuries in advance of modern science’s discoveries, the Bible recorded an accurate perspective of the magnitude and complexity of “the great and wide seas” (Psa.104:25). “Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep” (Psalm 107:23-24). “Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places” (Psalm 135:6). There are many “deep places” in the oceans; Jonah speaks of mountains in the oceans: “The waters surrounded me…the deep closed around me…I went down to the moorings of the mountains” (Jonah 2:5-6)
In 1873 AD, the British ship, “Challenger,” in its first deep-sea exploration discovered a 5 ½ mile deep trench in the Pacific. In 1960 AD, Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh in the Bathyscaph “Trieste” reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, 35,800 feet deep. Man descended into the recesses of the deep which God spoke about nearly 4,000 years before. Oceanographers have confirmed that the sea-floor is far more rugged than on land, with gigantic mountains and great numbers of volcanoes. There are also many springs of water, flowing with great amounts of rich, warm, fresh waters from deep in the earth’s interior. God asked Job over 4,000 years ago: “Have you entered the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in search of the depths?” (Job 38:16).
The Bible spoke of “paths of the sea” (Psalm 8:8) before recent scientists discovered them. In the 1840-50’s, Matthew Fontaine Maury concluded that since the Bible says there are “paths of the sea,” he was going to find them. In Richmond, VA there is a monument of Matthew Maury, with a Bible beside him and a chart of the oceans in one hand; the inscription at the base of his statue reads: “Pathfinder of the Seas.” He is known as “the Father of Oceanography” because he discovered the cause and effect relations between the air circulation systems on the earth and the circulations in the oceans, and then was able to chart the most effective routes for sea travel, taking advantage of the regular current systems. He is the author of “The Physical Geography of the Sea” (1855).
It is instructive to note that none of the 2,000 plus references to the “waters” of the earth have turned out to be incorrect in the light of modern science; many of them contained allusions to modern facts of science 1000’s of years before they were confirmed by scientific research.