Friday, September 24, 2010

The parting of the Red Sea

A couple of days ago, research was featured in several news stories offering a scientific explanation as to how the waters in the Red Sea could have been parted for Moses. Some concluded that therefore the miracle of the waters parting was not down to the intervention of God, but merely fluid dynamics.

The fact that the waters could have parted at all is no surprise to bible believing Christians. If in the first case one believes in God then His ability to perform the miraculous is a given and so does not present a problem. If however, one struggles with the concept of an miracle-working God, then this research may be of interest, in as far as it appears that what happened is indeed feasible, thus adding weight to the accuracy of biblical account.

So was it an act of God or a freak of nature? If it was a freak of nature we would have to rewrite the account as follows:
After the Israelites had been allowed to leave Egypt, they reached the red sea. However, Pharaoh had second thoughts about releasing his workforce and gave chase. Thankfully, as chance would have it, when Moses stretched out his hand (as directed by the voices is in head), the wind began to blow in just the right direction and at just the right time to open up the sea to allow them to cross on dry land. As the Israelites finished crossing, the Egyptians came to the red sea, saw their chance and followed. Thankfully for the Israelites (and unluckily for the Egyptians) the wind ceased and so the waters came crashing back and removed the threat of an Egyptian attack, thus saving the fleeing Israelites. 
I don't know about you, but the story without God leads to an account which seems more incredible than actual history that the bible claims to record. Furthermore, if the researchers had read Exodus, they could have saved themselves all their efforts into how it happened.

Exodus 14:21: 'Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land.' And if they had read Exodus 15:8 they would have found that it was 'by the blast of your [God's] nostrils the waters piled up' and in verse 10: 'But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them.'

So I conclude that either the whole story is false, in which case the research is interesting, but of limited relevance in relation to religion. Alternatively, if we believe the biblical account, but ascribe the events to natural causes, we have to accept an awful lot of chance, coincidence and good luck for it to have happened without God. So my view is that God did indeed use the wind – but it wasn't a freak of nature, it was God intervening to save his people – just as we have known and believed for centuries.

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