The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

The Discovery Channel Challenges the Bible

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Have you seen the Wrath of God advertisement? It’s a one-page ad that has been appearing in big-market, big-name magazines like Time. There are no pictures, just a one-line web address: www.wrathofgod.info. At the bottom of the ad, the reader is dared to check it out. When you do, you will find a slick video presentation depicting the ten plagues on Egypt. The Flash video ends with these questions: "Do you dare question what is in the Bible? . . . Is it right? . . . Rameses: The Wrath of God or Man?"

On December 5, 2004, the Discovery Channel will, I believe, attempt to explain away the miracles of Exodus. Call me cynical, but I don’t trust skeptics with the Bible. I could be wrong, but history is on my side. In the December 1996 issue of Popular Mechanics (PM), an attempt was made to use science to explain a number of biblical miracles. The editors wrote: "Technology and a better understanding of natural processes may explain how these seemingly impossible events occurred."

The folks at PM do not come out and say it, but the Bible is assumed to be a compilation of myths and superstitions that are naturally a part of the pre-scientific ancient era. There are staggering theological consequences for those who follow this operating presupposition. If the biblical writers do not give an accurate assessment of historical events, then their judgment in all matters must be considered suspect. There is no neutrality on this issue. PM concludes that the biblical authors could not tell the difference between a miracle and a phenomenon of nature.[1]

For example, the PM 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."[2]

A few questions immediately come to mind. First, has anyone observed such a phenomenon happening again since the time of Moses? Second, is it possible that the sea bottom would be dry enough for the Israelites to pass through? 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?

Then there’s Moses and the burning bush. Did Moses mistake "the angel of the Lord" for "a natural gas seep that was ignited by lightning"?[3] 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?



In all of PM‘s explanations, Moses is a dupe who had not learned anything about his desert environment in the forty years he spent there. How will the Discovery Channel deal with these biblical accounts and the ten plagues? I’m hopeful but not encouraged. I’ll report to you on December 6th. Maybe I’ll have to eat my words.

For more information on this topic, see chapter 13 of Gary DeMar’s Thinking Straight in a Crooked World.

Endnotes:

[1] Mike Fillon, "Science Solves Ancient Mysteries of the Bible," Popular Mechanics (December 1996), 40.
[2] Fillon, "Science Solves Ancient Mysteries of the Bible," 41-42.
[3] Fillon, "Science Solves Ancient Mysteries of the Bible," 43.

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