Who is better at miracles? Jesus or scientists? Can you be an atheist and at the same time believe in biblical miracles? Do you accept the story of creation, the ten plagues of the Exodus, and Jesus’ supernatural abilities as genuine miracles, or do you doubt them? If you are uncertain about the answers to those question, then you should probably know that scientists and even theologists have been trying for decades to demythologize the Old and New Testament by “cutting off” the miraculous.
To begin, the Bible was written in times when many natural phenomena, such as earthquakes, thunder, etc. were accredited to divine powers. From modern point of view, however, most of the extraordinary events in the Holy Bible can be explained as having natural causes. After the flood, a rainbow appeared as a sign of God. Nowadays, even fifth graders know that rainbows are caused by the refraction of light through drops of water. However, other events are impossible to be explained scientifically, like the stick turning into a snake, or the resurrection of Jesus after 36 hours in a sealed tomb.
There is nothing wrong with believing in miracles. In fact, by accepting the existence of an almighty creator, one should be able to affirm that miracles are the logical way for Him to reveal Himself to humans. Yet, if we pause our faith for a moment and look at the Bible through the unfeeling eyes of science, we will realize that there are plausible scientific explanations behind some of the most unbelievable biblical stories. Here are 15 of them…
15. Natural Phenomenon Of “Wind Set-Down” Could Explain The Parting Of The Red Sea
God gives Moses the power to part the Red Sea, thus enabling the Israelites to escape from Egypt. U.S. scientists believe that the parting of the sea could have been caused by a natural phenomenon known as ‘wind set-down’. This type of wind is strong enough to push back big masses of water and reveal a dry strip of land, allowing people to cross the sea safely. Because the scientists didn’t want to be taken as pretentious clap-trappers, talking nonsense, they created a simulation of the event and applied it to the river Nile in Africa. Their discovery was indeed mind-blowing. An eastern wind blowing at 60 mph for 12 hours would have pushed back the Red Sea for four solid hours – long enough for the Israelites to cross over and save themselves from the Pharaoh’s wrath.
14. Goliath The Giant Suffered From Bad Vision And Acromegaly
Goliath of Gath is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable Old Testament characters. He is described as an invincible Philistine warrior, who, however, was defeated by David despite his young age and poor physique. Actually, David stepped into battle armed with nothing but a stick and a sling. He flung a pebble, which hit Goliath right between the eyes, killing him. How could this be possible, though? It’s very likely that Goliath couldn’t see well. His poor vision was a result of an enlarged pituitary gland – an indication that he suffered from acromegaly. This diagnosis can be further supported by the fact that when standing against David, he mocks him that he has come to fight him with sticks. While David had only ONE stick! Double vision is another side effect of the disorder.
13. Patches Of Spring Ice Allowed Jesus To Walk On Water
There is no way a magician wouldn’t impress his audience with such a spectacular trick. Let’s remember how the biblical story goes. After a tiring day of producing miracles (among which feeding the crowd with two fish and a few loaves of bread), Jesus retreats to the mountains to rest. In the meantime, his disciples decide to cross the Sea of Galilee, but during their passage, а fierce storm arises, threatening to kill them all. But just like we’ve seen on Baywatch, when things got really bad, Jesus comes to their rescue, confidently walking on the surface of the water. Here comes the scientific explanation. The salty springs near the site where the event is believed to have taken place provide the perfect conditions for the formation of the so-called spring ice. Those patches of ice under the surface of the sea would be impossible to discern by someone standing in the distance. So, in practice, Jesus DID walk on water. Only it was frozen.
12. Study Provides Support That Living Organisms Originate From Clay
Not only the Bible but also the Quran and Greek mythology maintain that life on Earth came from clay. God shapes man out of clay and breathes life into him through his nostrils. It sounds ridiculous, and even small children would take the story with disbelief, but science says otherwise. A recent study comes in support to this story. Clay has the quality to absorb molecules and chemicals like a sponge and “breeds” them until they become more complex organisms. Of course, the process takes millions of years, during which time the chemicals react with each other to form proteins, DNA, and finally living cells. Biological scientists from Cornell University are almost one hundred percent certain that life on Earth originates in clay. So, the line from Genesis “From dust you have come and to dust thou shalt return” doesn’t sound so unreasonable, after all.
11. The Burning Bush “Didn’t Burn Up” Because It’s A Form Of Natural Charcoal
Moses is perhaps the second best working miracle-machine, after Jesus. He could produce no less impressive wonders than the Savior himself – he could part seas, collect water from stones, etc. One of the most memorable stories about Moses is to be found in the Book of Exodus where God is speaking to him out of a burning bush on Mount Horeb. At this location, Moses received instructions by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and lead them into Canaan. The special thing about this bush – besides the fact that he was receiving a message through it – is that it didn’t disintegrate. Theologists will argue that God chose to appear in that form as an image of His glory and holiness. Physicists, however, speculate that the bush – most likely an acacia bush – was growing over a volcanic vent. The escaping heat caused it to burst into flames and given that acacia is similar to charcoal when it burns, it stays virtually intact. Norwegian physicist Dag Kristian Dysthe has studied profoundly the spontaneous combustion of organic material in West Africa and concluded that such a phenomenon is not uncommon in the natural world.
10. Moses Hearing The Voice Of God Is Due To A Psychoactive Substance In The Acacia Plant
This is an easy one, although we should instantly reject the possibility of Moses having a mental disorder. After all, the man has shown much common sense and stamina in all his doings. Moses hearing God talking to him was most probably due to the fact that in the dry lands of the Sinai peninsula grows the acacia tree, which happens to contain psychoactive substances. Cognitive psychologists suggest that Moses got high on such a substance similar to ayahuasca (or iowaska) – an Amazonian plant mixture that induces altered states of consciousness, usually 4 to 8 hours after taking it. If you think this is absurd, you should probably read your Bible more thoroughly. Then you’ll be surprised to find out that potions made from the bark of the acacia tree are mentioned very often.
9. The Tower Of Babel Might Be Real
Probably because people have always wondered how languages appeared and why they differ so much, the story of the Tower of Babel is one of the most iconic ones in Genesis. Only nine lines long, it tells how the arrogant humans decided to build a tower so high that it would poke God up in heaven. But God, of course, was not quite happy with this, and he struck back by messing up their languages, so that they wouldn’t be able to understand each other anymore. As a result, the whole project failed and the highest building in the Middle East so far is Burj Khalifa, which, with its 828 m, is far from the ambitious undertaking of the Tower of Babel.
Is it possible, however, that the Tower did exist? A few years ago, archeologists found a very ancient cuneiform script, believed to be 2,500 years old. It contained a description of a giant ziggurat, i.e. a rectangular stepped tower, built by the then Babylonian king. What is even more curious is the fact that one of the engravings described how the king gathered “all the people of the world” to work on the building site. To which, we say “Wow!”
8. Noah’s Ark And The Flood Was Actually Glaciers Melting
Very often in the Old Testament, God gets mad at the human race and every now and then he’s thinking of wiping it off from the face of the earth. However, in the Book of Genesis, we see Him especially enraged by the corruption of human nature and this time He decides to punish His own creation for real. He goes for a Hollywood-like scenario, i.e. flooding the earth to the point of total annihilation. However, he chooses one person as relatively decent and trustworthy – Noah. He instructs him to build an ark to save his family and a pair of each animal species.
Scientists believe that around 5600 B.C., Earth’s temperature raised enormously. This caused the melting of glaciers, which resulted in overflowing of salt water from the Mediterranean. The wave cascaded over Bosporus to the Black Sea, transforming it from a freshwater lake into a saltwater inlet. More than 60,000 square miles of land were flooded and the lake’s level rose by hundreds of feet, thus triggering mass animal migration all across Europe.
7. The Star Of Bethlehem Was Actually Jupiter, Saturn, And The Sun All Lining Up
Ahhh, Christmas! The most miraculous time of the year. However, the very first Christmas in the history of humanity is wrapped in mystery. Jesus’ birth was announced by angels (of course!) and attended by three wise men. In the background, we have some farm animals, a bearded husband and a virgin mother, but the star of the evening is an actual star which is acting as a GPS navigator leading to the newborn king.
We are not told much about the three wise men. What we know though, is that they were kind of astronomers. But not much of professionals, as they misinterpreted the facts, turning a common astronomical event into an omen. In 6-7 B.C., Jupiter and Saturn lined up with Earth and the Sun. This occurrence might have looked like a single bright star. The story goes that the star led them to Jesus. But what the three Magi most probably were following the whole time was not one single mysterious star, but the same astronomical event occurring over and over again, only in different places.
6. The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah Was Caused By Meteor Showers
They say God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of fornication and homosexuality. The two towns embodying the pits of sin and immorality were razed to the ground when they were firebombed by the infuriated God. But were they? Most probably God had nothing to do with it. According to one of the many theories trying to explain the destruction of the two cities, every 2,500 years the Earth passes through a cloud of meteorites. We know for sure that around 2200 B.C. forty cities underwent catastrophes possibly caused by meteors, so it all adds up.
Another theory suggests that an asteroid hit our planet around 3123 B.C. And although the impact took place in Europe, the angle at which it occurred produced a superheated cloud of air. The cloud spread over the Mediterranean and literally set the sky above Sinai and Northern Egypt on fire. This would have certainly turned every city below to ashes. Including Sodom and Gomorrah.
5. The Story Of Cain And Abel Represents The Extermination Of Neanderthals By Homo Sapiens
The story about brothers Cain and Abel teaches us how jealousy and anger can destroy us. We know how the tale goes. God favors the offerings of the herdsman Abel over those of the farmer Cain, so the latter kills his brother in a fit of rage. Although it seems like a very simple scenario, some anthropologists claim the context behind it is much deeper, and the story can be linked to the first genocide humanity experienced. Some tens of thousands of years ago, our species was living on the planet together with Neanderthals. This seemingly peaceful cohabitation ended abruptly with the disappearance of the Neanderthals. The most plausible theory about what might have happened is that Homo sapiens slaughtered (or even ate?) the other species. Like Abel, the Neanderthals represent Abel the herdsman, and the humans were farmers, like Cain.
4. Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity Lends Support To God Creating The Universe In Six Days
The Bible says the universe was created in six days. The scientists come with another number – 13.8 billion years. Have you ever wondered who’s right?
If we take into consideration Einstein’s theory of general relativity, according to which the faster things go, the slower time moves, we will be able to see the creation of the universe from a totally new perspective. This point of view changes the meaning of the tale about the six days in which God completed his divine deed. Actually, these six days account for six 24-trillion-hour days, which is a little over 14 billion years – a reasonable amount of time, during which any possible universe can be created. This theory was proposed by Gerald Schreoder – an Orthodox Jewish physicist, whose work is focused on the relationship between science and spirituality. He believes that, at the moment of the creation of the universe, time moved a trillion times slower, due to the so-called ‘stretching factor’ proposed by the Einstein’s equations. In other words, it is very possible that the universe WAS created in just six days. Only that time is different for us than it is for the Creator.
3. The Ten Plagues Caused By Drastic Climate Change
Besides the parting of the Red Sea, our old friend Moses witnessed another event of spectacular proportions. Egypt was afflicted by ten disastrous plagues – water turning into blood, frogs, biting insects and wild animals, fiery hail, eternal darkness… You can’t but doubt whether scientists could come up with a plausible explanation to this one. And yet, there is a theory saying that the plagues could have been caused by a drastic climate change.
For many decades, Egypt was enjoying a favorable climate of rain and good weather all the year round. But then a sudden shift to extremely dry climate occurred causing chaos and devastation in the whole country. The Nile went stale, and this triggered a chain of horrible events, among which an outbreak of blood-red algae across the river and hordes of gigantic mosquitoes. The first plagues – the diseases, the boils and the frogs – could have been caused by the stagnated river, and the later ones – by a distant volcanic eruption. There is evidence that 3,500 years ago the volcanic island of Thera erupted. Ash was floating in the stratosphere, turning the day into night, and causing hail storms.
2. Limestone Is Usually Filled With Water, That’s The Rock Moses Hit
Moses did have some hard time leading his people from Egypt to the Promised Land. Thirst came in addition to the numerous hardships they had to endure. After wandering for some time around Rephidim, a place where modern-day Sharm el-Sheikh is located, the Israelites got awfully thirsty and asked their leader for water. According to the tale, Moses possessed a magic stick, with which he struck a rock and water came out of it. However, being the resourceful guy as he was, and also a bit of a geologist, he instantly recognized the soft porous limestone which usually contains plenty of water. He made a sharp crack into the outer crust and let the life-giving liquid out. What comes as a supporting fact to this hypothesis is that the area where Rephidim was believed to be, is abundant in porous limestone rock.
1. Manna Falling From Heaven Could Be A Form Of “Shrooms”
We already mentioned that Moses was a skillful wonder-maker and one of his most impressive tricks was “squeezing” water out of a stone. However, when Passover came to an end and his people were short of provisions, Moses was not able to pull another miracle. So, he had to ask God for a favor. God heard his request and manna in the form of “a fine, flake-like thing like the frost on the ground” (as described in Exodus) came from heaven. The ritual of the food being delivered from above lasted for forty years!
We already called Moses a druggie, but check this out. Judging by the description, ethnomycologists trying to unravel the mystery about this gift of God’s, pretty much believe that what fell from the sky is closer to a certain psychedelic type of mushroom rather than real food. The mushroom in question is known by the common name of ‘shrooms’, or ‘golden tops’. What we are trying to say here is that God decided to feed the starving people of Israel not apples or lamb chops, but something that will keep them high for forty years.