Does God approve of our intent to use nuclear weapons? I don’t believe so. Moreover, I do not believe God approves of even the possession of nuclear weapons.
The danger of world suicide through nuclear war “compels us to undertake an evaluation of war with an entirely new attitude,” Vatican II said. Einstein puts it this way: “When we released the energy from the atom, everything changed except our way of thinking. Because of that we drift towards unparalleled disaster.” Something of what Einstein means is this: we still look upon war as a conflict between two armies. The armies try to break through each other’s front line to reach the civilian population. When they do, the suffering is so great that the war is ended. However, war with nuclear weapons will reach the civilian immediately. Nuclear missiles take only 24 minutes to travel between Moscow and Washington. Both the speed and total penetrability are so different from war in the past that the word “war” should not be used. Something like “mutual suicide,” “doomsday,” or “apocalypse” would be more accurate.
What can a nuclear weapon do? In his book, Nuclear Disaster, Dr. Tom Stonier of Manhattan College, describes what would happen if a 20 megaton nuclear weapon was detonated in the center of New York City:
The first result would be death. Ten times as many deaths as all the battle deaths that occurred in all the wars of American history--from the Revolution up to and including the 55,000 battle deaths in the Vietnam War. Seven million people would die from blast, firestorm, and radiation. The blast would cover a radius of ten miles. It would dig a crater 650 feet deep and a mile and a half across even if it was dropped in solid rock. All living things, even in the subways, would die. Trucks and automobiles would be hurled about like giant Molotov cocktails spewing gasoline and fire. Most of the victims would be killed by falling buildings.