Miracles “Explained”

An unbelieving teacher told her class there were no real miracles in the Bible. She said, “Take for instance, the crossing of the Red Sea. We know this body of water was only about six inches deep.” A boy toward the back of the room shouted, “Praise God for the miracle!” The irritated teacher asked, “What miracle?” “God drowned the whole Egyptian army in just six inches of water,” said the boy. “That had to be a miracle!”

The cover story for the 1996 December addition of Popular Mechanics was titled: “Science Solves The Ancient Mysteries of the Bible”. It was authored by Mike Fillon. He wrote, “Technology and a better understanding of natural processes may explain how these seemingly impossible events occurred. …Now – with the help of high-tech methods including radar imaging, computer simulation and chemical analysis – scientists are becoming convinced that there may be another dimension to these miraculous tales. What the Bible’s authors interpreted as miracles may have been phenomena of nature. … Popular Mechanics reports these latest scientific explanations of some of the most awe-inspiring miracles of the Bible” (39-40).

The article goes on to explain, by use of the laws of nature, the various miracles of the Bible. Hence, they are called “mysteries” because before now mankind had no way of explaining their occurrences. However, an “explained miracle” is an oxymoron. If you can explain a mysterious event by means of natural laws, it is no longer a supernatural occurrence.

Lot’s Wife

Many Bible students are familiar with the story of the demise of Lot’s wife. As Lot’s family fled Sodom, she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:15,17,24,26). The mysterious event has now been explained.

“Writing in Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology, geologists Graham Harris and Anthony Beardow….believe that Sodom and Gomorrah were located near the southeast corner of the North Basin because it was rich in both salt from the Dead Sea and bitumen, or asphalt, which was mined nearby. According to their theory, the bitumen could have ignited during an earthquake and the resulting fire would have helped to destroy the cities. The earthquake and liquefaction of the vast area under the cities were also likely to have created a tidal wave in the Dead Sea. …The geologists believe she may have drowned as she fled when the tidal wave swept across the Dead Sea. They also speculate that what Lot saw when he looked aback from the safety of the mountain was not his wife transformed into a pillar of salt, but a woman-sized block of salt on the newly formed beach” (941)

Moses and the Burning Bush

God spoke to Moses via a burning bush that was not consumed. “And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed” (Ex. 3:2). The article explains away the miraculous. “One later theory about this miracle proposes that the burning bush was a desert plant named fraxinella. This plant contains an oil so volatile that it can be ignited by the sun. the oil quickly burns off, and the bush itself is not damaged” (72). Another argument is that a hole emitting gas caught fire behind the bush making it appear the bush was aflame but not consumed.

Moses Parts the Red Sea

One of the greatest of miracles was that of the crossing of the Red Sea on dry land by the Israelites when they were fleeing Egyptian bondage (Ex. 14:15,16,21). After thirty-five hundred years the mysterious event has been “solved.”

“For nearly a century, there has been speculation that the Red Sea mentioned in Exodus is not the huge 100-mile-wide expanse as it is known today, but the western “finger” of the Red Sea – which is now called the Gulf of Suez- that extends to the border areas of Egypt. This notion stems from the fact that the original Hebrew phrase for Red Sea was ‘yam suph,’ which actually means ‘Reed Sea.’ …According to a Bulletin Of The American Meteorological Society account, computer calculations indicate that because of the peculiar geography of the northern end of the Red Sea, a moderate wind blowing 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” (42).

God used a “strong east wind” to dry up the sea (Ex. 14:21). The waters “stood up as a heap” making a perpendicular “wall on either side” (15:8; 14:22). Even if this could have happened apart from God’s intervention, the miraculous element of the perfect timing cannot be answered. That the waters should part just as the Israelites reached the shore and should close upon the Egyptians as they were in hot pursuit and after every Israelite was safely on dry land. This clearly proves the miraculous intervention of God.

Lazarus’ Resurrection from the Dead

When Jesus’ friend Lazarus was ill, the family sent for Jesus. Jesus delayed his trip to Bethany till Lazarus was dead. By the time He arrived Lazarus’ body had been in the grave for four days. However, he arose at the word of Jesus. “He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Loose him, and let him go’” (Jn. 11:43,44). Today, this event is now explained away like the other miracles mentioned above.

“Dr. Gerald A. Larue, professor emeritus of biblical history and archeology at the University of Southern California and president of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion (CSER), a secular humanist organization, says it’s possible Lazarus was either in a coma or a catatonic state. …Obviously, in biblical times the practice of medicine was not nearly as sophisticated as it is today. Even as recent as the Victorian era, to ensure that no one suffering from catatonia would be buried alive, people were buried in special types of coffins that had tubes running to the surface with bells on top. …Larue says that a person in a catatonic state shows few signs of a heartbeat or breathing. The biblical account leads him to suspect Lazarus was actually in a coma, since in this condition hearing is often the last sense lost. “Assuming Jesus had a loud voice, and he called out ‘Lazarus,’ the man may have heard him and come out of the coma,’ Larue says” (42).

Lazarus’ death was certain. He had been in the grave four days (11:17,39); he had on graveclothes (11:44); and decay had begun (11:39). The Biblical apologist C.S. Lewis wrote, “The resuscitation of Lazarus, so far as we can see, is simple reversal: a series of changes working in the direction opposite to that we have always experienced. At death, matter which has been organic begins to flow away into the inorganic, to be finally scattered and used (some of it) by other organisms.” Even the enemies of Jesus had to acknowledge this miracle (vv. 47; 12:10-11). Lazarus’ resurrection would result in many believing on the Lord,

All such attempts to explain away the great miracles of the Bible are in vain. “The Resurrection, for example, was no more than recovery from apparent death; then the feeding of the multitude is erroneously set down as if it implied a marvel, whereas the real facts were much more simply-the crowd following the lead of Jesus and the disciples, took provisions out of their pocket and handed them around. At the transfiguration, an unknown friend of Jesus, hidden in the morning mists, called out in the hearing of the apostolic three ‘this is my beloved Son'” (H.R. Mackintosh, Types of Modern Theology, p. 16).

– Daniel R. Vess


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