The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Does Science Explain Everything? (Part 2)

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The Popular Mechanics’ version of Moses parting the Red Sea is inventive but not very original. Liberals have been pushing the strong-wind view for decades. It goes like this: “Because of the peculiar geography of the northern end of the Red Sea, a moderate wind blowing constantly for about 10 hours could have caused the sea to recede about a mile and the water level to drop 10 ft., leaving dry land for a period of time before crashing back when the winds died down.”[1] A few questions immediately come to mind. First, has anyone observed such a phenomenon happening since the time of Moses? Second, is it possible that the sea bottom would be dry enough for the Israelites to pass through in such a short period of time? The mud would have been at least a foot thick, and ten hours of wind would not be enough to dry the ground. Ten days would not have been enough time to fulfill the biblical requirement that “the sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on dry land” (Ex. 14:22). Third, how did Moses know that this unique phenomenon, never witnessed before and never to be repeated again, would take place at this precise time?

Lazarus is Raised from the Dead

Was Lazarus really dead or was he in a coma? Dr. Gerald A. Larue, former professor of biblical history and archeology at the University of Southern California and president of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, a secular humanist organization, says it is possible Lazarus was either in a coma or a catatonic state. Again, citing a pre-scientific bias toward medical ignorance, Dr. Larue surmises that those who placed Lazarus in the tomb probably buried him alive. Since, according to the good doctor, “hearing is often the last sense lost,” Lazarus heard Jesus’ loud voice telling him to “come forth” (John 11:43). Hearing Jesus’ voice supposedly shocked him right out of the coma.

Hogwash. A sick man, four days without food and water, and bound from head to toe would have little chance of survival in a rock tomb. Jesus states emphatically that Lazarus was dead (11:14). How coincidental that Jesus arrives in the nick of time to shout his friend out of his coma. Another miracle of extraordinary timing. In addition, Lazarus’s body would have been handled to make it ready for burial. They would have noticed that the body was still warm, a sure sign of life.

A Plague of Locusts

How do we explain plagues of locusts? Some insect plagues could be explained in terms of environmental changes: “The locusts followed unseasonable rains that fell in the form of hail in the seventh plague on Egypt.[2] But how would Moses know that the locusts would fly just when he gave the command? PM finally acknowledges that timing is the key element in all their mechanistic scenarios. “There remains, however, this mystery. Most of the plagues were produced at Moses’s command, in one case at a time set by the Pharaoh himself, and ceased at his prayer.”[3] There was no Farmer's Almanac in Moses’s day that predicted a locust plague at a particular time.

Moses and the Burning Bush

Did Moses mistake “the angel of the Lord” for “a natural gas seep that was ignited by lightning”?[4] Once again we are forced to believe that Moses was an ignorant and superstitious Bedouin who did not have the sense to check out what PM maintains was a common occurrence in the desert. Do such phenomena happen today? The Bible tells us that Moses, taking on the role of a scientist, walked around the bush: “I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up” (Ex. 3:3). Moses was looking for a rational, scientific explanation. He did not immediately assume that the event was miraculous. Moses spent forty years in the wilderness. Are we to assume that he was not familiar with desert phenomena?

PM has added nothing new to skeptical analysis. Others have attempted to explain away the miraculous. Consider the following:

[A]mong the commentators who think that a natural explanation can be found, some think that the phenomenon of the bush that “burned with fire” and yet “was not consumed” can be explained as a variety of the gas plant or Fraxinella, the Dictamnus Albus L. This is the plant with a strong growth about three feet in height with clusters of purple blossoms. The whole bush is covered with tiny oil glands. This oil is so volatile that it is constantly escaping and if approached with a naked light bursts suddenly into flames.[5]

Another writer attempts to explain the flames as “the crimson blossoms of mistletoe twigs . . . which grow on various prickly Acacia bushes. . . When this mistletoe is in full bloom, the bush becomes a mass of brilliant flaming color and looks as if it is on fire.”[6] Here’s one that would suit the people at PM: “Electrical energy of an extremely high voltage would readily produce the phenomenon which Moses witnessed as fire burning without consuming it.”[7] In all of these explanations, Moses is a dupe who had not learned anything about his desert environment in the forty years he spent there.


[1] Mike Fillon, “Science Solves Ancient Mysteries of the Bible,” Popular Mechanics (December 1996),  41–42.
[2] Fillon, “Science Solves Ancient Mysteries of the Bible,” 42.
[3] Fillon, “Science Solves Ancient Mysteries of the Bible,” 42.
[4] Fillon, “Science Solves Ancient Mysteries of the Bible,” 43.
[5] Werner Keller, quoting Harold N. Moldenke, in The Bible as History (New York: William Morrow, 1956), 131.
[6] Smith quoted by Werner Keller in The Bible as History, 131.[7] Howard B. Rand,Primogenesis (Haverhill, MA: Destiny Publishers, 1953), 142.

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