The unbiblical lie promoted by Big Media, Big Government and Big Entertainment during the Cold War was that “Man was going to blow himself up with atomic weapons!” This theme was featured in millions of TV scripts, newscasts, songs lyrics, interviews, movies, etc.
It was all a lie. The Bible explains how this age will end and it doesn’t end with “Man blowing himself up with nuclear weapons.” Even in his own supposed destruction, the arrogance of man tried to supplant what was God’s role at Armageddon.
God has long ago declared how it will all end and His declarations are verified every day by events happening on earth–and God’s Word says nothing of a nuclear holocaust. But Satan has always tried to undermine the Word of God whenever and wherever he can.
To this end, he will use deceived men–even deceived nuclear scientists.
So, then if not in the nuclear holocaust popularly portrayed by the media and entertainment for the last 70 years, how will this age end?
To answer these questions, we need to look a bit deeper into what the risks posed by nuclear weapons are today. How do they work? What can they do? What can’t they do? And what would happen if nuclear war did break out? In answering these questions, we’re going to set aside questions of politics, ideology, the morality of nuclear arms and the dubious wisdom of possessing or using nuclear weapons at all. Instead, we’ll be concentrating on the science, engineering, and strategy of nuclear arms and their effects.
The nuclear football — a black briefcase containing an illustrated menu of doomsday scenarios — follows President Trump everywhere he goes. Like every U.S. commander-in-chief since John F. Kennedy, Trump has the sole authority to empty the American nuclear arsenal on any target, at any time, for any reason. James Mattis, his secretary of defense, must authenticate the order before it reaches the Pentagon, but should Mattis refuse to do so in an attempt to prevent missiles from launching, Trump can simply fire him on the spot and replace him with someone who will carry the order out. “There is no procedural or institutional mechanism that can stop a president from giving an order to use nuclear weapons,” said Stephen Schwartz, editor and co-author of “Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940.”
You can exhale, though: Most nuclear security experts I spoke to are not particularly worried by this aspect of the Trump presidency. They said that the risk of civilian-targeted nuclear weapon use has ticked up since 2015, but the causal pathway is a bit subtler than itchy fingers on the metaphorical red button. “I don’t know how this plays out,” said Rachel Bronson, executive director and publisher of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. “But he’s moving us into a much more uncertain time.”
The trouble is, nuclear risks are hard to measure quantitatively. The small sample size (two bombs dropped, ever) and rapidly changing technological and diplomatic contexts don’t exactly lend themselves to simple mathematical modeling. While such models do exist, they are “mainly an exercise in structuring one’s thinking, not something that would provide a ‘right’ answer,” according to Matthew Bunn, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School.
But just because we can’t model our way to an exact answer doesn’t mean we should throw up our hands and move on. Since so many lives are at stake, even a tiny increase in the probability that nuclear weapons will be used is a really big deal, and that remains true even if our best predictions are somewhat imprecise.
Academics and diplomats who spend their careers studying nuclear weapons have a pretty good conception of the nature and magnitude of the risks — their back-of-the-envelope estimates are as good an answer as we have. And while some experts disagreed on the details, everyone I spoke to painted the same general picture.
In short, a nuclear strike on a civilian target could realistically happen in one of two ways: Either
tensions between two nuclear states rise to the point where a single miscommunication or technical failure could trigger a launch; or,
a terrorist organization could acquire nuclear weapons capabilities.