The website “Our Amazing Planet” published an article stating “Mother Earth could have parted the Red Sea, hatching the great escape described in the biblical book of Exodus, a new study finds. . . . 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.”
Liberals have been pushing the strong-wind view for decades. A similar interpretive explanation appeared in the December 1996 issue of Popular Mechanics (PM). 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? 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? Christians don’t have a problem with God using His created order to perform various miraculous signs. It’s when, how, and why He does them that makes them miracles and theologically significant (1 Cor. 10:1).
Popular Mechanics weighed in the story of Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt. The biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were located in the Dead Sea region. Scientists theorize that the twin cities of depravity were “destroyed by an earthquake that toppled buildings and liquefied the rocks and soil underneath the cities.” Other cities have been lost through liquification: the town of Helice in ancient Greece in 37 B.C., thousands of miles of area in China in 1921, and most recently, a section of Valdez, Alaska, in the 1950s. In a similar way, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, probably through volcanic activity which liquified the surrounding salt and bitumen (asphalt) mines.
Did Lot’s wife turn into a pillar of salt? The text does not demand that Lot’s wife be transformed into salt through and through as those who looked at the snaked-haired Medusa were turned to stone. When Lot’s wife “looked back,” thus slowing her exodus from the twin cities, she got caught in the spray of molten salt and was encased in the mixture, “and she became a pillar of salt” (Gen. 19:26). Henry Morris writes:
One possibility is that the explosions in the region threw great quantities of its salt deposits into the air, and that some of these fell on her and buried her under a great pile of salt. Another is that she was buried by volcanic ash or other materials and that, gradually, over the following years, her body became petrified, “becoming salt” in fashion similar to that experienced by the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum when they were buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.2
The miracle was that God did it at the time He said He would and used the forces of His creation to bring it to pass. PM dismisses the notion of divine intervention, offering no explanation as to how only Lot and his family knew to escape the impending destruction.
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. 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.” There was no Farmer’s Almanac in Moses’s day that predicted a locust plague at a particular time.
Did Moses mistake “the angel of the Lord” for “a natural gas seep that was ignited by lightning”? 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?
The miracles that Jesus performed have never been duplicated. Today’s magicians require numerous assistants, tens of thousands of dollars worth of special equipment, and days of preparation time to perform their elaborate tricks, and walking on water would have been an elaborate piece of prestidigitation. Imagine the type of gear Jesus would have needed to convince His disciples that He was actually walking on water during a violent storm in the middle of a large lake where their boat was “battered by the waves” (Matt. 14:24). Here’s how Christian magician André Kole describes the impossibility of a walk-on-water trick:
On several occasions I have been asked to perform before magicians’ conventions. One time a convention host asked me to perform on the beach before 700 magicians from around the world. He wanted me to create an illusion in which I would get out of a boat and walk on the water a short distance to land.
After spending many weeks trying to formulate all the methods we could use for such an illusion, it was finally scrapped. It was impossible to create any type of effect that would convince anyone I was really walking on water. This experience showed me that, even with all our modern technology, we can’t come close to duplicating many of the things Jesus did nearly 20 centuries ago.3
Keep in mind that Jesus walked on water during a storm “many stadia away from the land” (Matt. 14:24). A stadium is approximately 600 feet. The conditions in first-century Israel were far from optimal for such an elaborate trick, especially during a time when engineering knowledge was minimal.
The Bible anticipates modern-day skeptics. All the criteria for determining if a miracle has taken place are evident in the biblical text. The miracles have not been duplicated under identical circumstances by any modern magician. None of these miracles could have been accomplished either by mechanical or magical means, either then or now. The miracles of the Bible are unique because Jesus is unique.
- Mike Fillon, “Science Solves Ancient Mysteries of the Bible,” Popular Mechanics (December 1996), 41–42 [↩]
- Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976), 356. [↩]
- André Kole and Al Janssen, Miracles or Magic? (Eugene, OR: Harvest House,  1987), 110. [↩]