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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Scientists: Parting of the Red Sea "has basis in physical laws"



It just so happens that I stumbled upon another article mentioning an event from the Old Testament. In this case, it pertained to moses and the parting of the Red Sea...

"A strong east wind, blowing overnight, could have swept water off a bend where an ancient river is believed to have merged with a coastal lagoon along the Mediterranean Sea, said study team member Carl Drews of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. While archaeologists and Egyptologists have found little evidence that any events described in Exodus actually happened, the study outlines a perfect storm that could have led to the 3,000-year-old escape.

"People have always been fascinated by this Exodus story, wondering if it comes from historical facts," Drews said. "What this study shows is that the description of the waters parting indeed has a basis in physical laws."

Drew and his colleagues used models that showed that a wind of 63 mph (101 kph), lasting for 12 hours, would have pushed back waters estimated to be 6 feet (1.8 meters) deep. This would have exposed mud flats for four hours, creating a dry passage about 2 to 2.5 miles (3.2 to 4 kilometers) long and 3 miles (4.8 km) wide.

To match the account in the Bible, the water would have to be pushed back into both the lake and the channel of the river, creating barriers of water on both sides of newly exposed mud flats, which is exactly what the models show could have happened.

As soon as the winds stopped, the waters would come rushing back. Anyone still on the mud flats would be at risk of drowning."
Of course the real miracle in all of this would be the timing of the incident with the Isrealites retreating and the Egyptians were in hot in pursuit. So once again we see an event described in the Bible as being quite plausible when examined by scientists.

9 comments:

GentleSkeptic said...

Forgive the pun, but for heaven's sake, JD.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/09/inventing_excuses_for_a_bible.php

GentleSkeptic said...

Are you suggesting that it wasn't really a miracle, but a coincidental natural event?

Oh ye of little faith…

Froggie said...

Precisely, GS. I could never figure out why bible lieralists must present all kinds of pseudoscience and absurd explanations for what is described in the bible as a miracle.
Supernatural events would certainly take place outside of the natural realm; outside the laws of nature and physics.

Even more, there is not one iota of evidence, archaelogical or other wise for the Exodus myth. It never happened as described in the bible.

SmartLX said...

I don't see that the article has improved the case for this event as a miracle.

A miracle is something which 1. is impossible or at least implausible by natural means, and 2. happened nevertheless. Drews has apparently established the parting of shallow water as more plausible by natural means, thus weakening the applicability of #1 to some extent. Brett Israel avoids #2, after briefly citing lack of evidence.

In other words, if the specific event happened, it was more likely to be miraculous before a natural mechanism was found. That's why evangelicals fight evolution tooth and nail: it's a natural mechanism which competes with the claim of divine action. The last thing they want is another one of those.

Anyone involved in this research who's a believer has shot him/herself in the foot. It would have been better to find evidence that it happened around the right time, without explaining how in natural terms. That would have left #1 alone, but strengthened #2.

JD Curtis said...

Again, I will reiterate...

"Of course the real miracle in all of this would be the timing of the incident with the Isrealites retreating and the Egyptians were in hot in pursuit."

That such a rare event occurred at such a time in human history is a miracle IMO.

SmartLX said...

As I was saying, better for your purposes to find evidence that it did happen than to explain it away before it's pinned down.

photogr said...

Logically the incident with Moses could have happened.

As fas as winds lets consider hurricanes. They do seem to bring in high tidal surges even in category 1 (85 plus MPH) hurricanes as I have experienced over the years. It is also plausable to do the opposite if the winds are blowing out to sea direction.

Tsunamis always seem to pull the water back from the shore line before the high waves hit. In conclusion this incident may well have happened not as a miracle but as a natural occurence. These are just plausable possibilities that seemed to be a miracle from God to the Israelites.

Not being there with our technical back ground, we have no way to tell what really happened and have to depend on the stories from people 3 thousand years ago.

The question remains how did Moses know exactly when this would happen?

GentleSkeptic said...

Of course the real miracle in all of this would be the timing of the incident with the Isrealites retreating and the Egyptians were in hot in pursuit.

So, the Awesome Power of Jehovah is reduced to… good timing.

Color me still unimpressed. Especially in the light of total lack of evidence that the Jews were ever in Egypt.

Not being there with our technical back ground, we have no way to tell what really happened and have to depend on the stories from people 3 thousand years ago.

No, we really don't. We can say, "that's much more likely to be a legend than a factual accounting." Like the Flood.

The Catholic Apologist said...

Hi JC,

Actually the notion of the article is not really new. It has been around for some time. Perhaps the notion was simply confirmed by Science, or shown to be possible.