RE: Physics of a Mesopotamian Flood--miracles

Sweitzer, Dennis (
Mon, 13 May 96 12:16:00 EST

>>>>.... Few of us have ever witnessed a bona fide, God-ordained miracle
that absolutely
violated any of our commonly-recognized scientific laws......Yet the Bible
is replete with them. I have heard "scientific" explanations as to how the
Red Sea was parted, and how all the plagues
that fell upon Egypt leading to the Exodus were due to naturally
occurring phenomena, such as a volcanic eruption. Okay, then how did
Moses turn his staff into a snake? What's the scientific explanation for

And how did the magicians in Pharoh's court turn their staffs into snakes?
And if it was a common trick among magicians (ala David Copperfield & co.),
why would God either: have Moses perform a common trick, or have Moses
mediate a genuine miracle, which was indistinguishable from a common trick.
Prehaps it has something to do with gradually demonstrating God's
superiority over Pharoh's court. (?)

>We could list miracles to which the Bible attests as long as
your arm. Jesus ....did it to prove his credentials, that God and the Son
of God prescribed those very laws
that govern our lives, but they are God and are not so governed.

I propose: We can array miracles between two "extremes": (1) temporary
suspention of the laws of physics and math. (2) Divine coincidences.

The resurrection is an example of the first. Or Balaams talking donkey. In
these cases, there is no physical explaination.

The Israelites crossing into the Promised land could be an example of the
second--where the water was dammed upstream, a phenomena which has been
observed due to regional earth quakes collapsing river banks into the rivers
and damming them up. This may seem to take the miraculous out of it, but
it's still miraculous that a natural phenomena could be so precisely timed
(it also implies that God gradually & gently rigged the circumstances far in
advance--no problem for God).

Some miracles fit the spectrum in between. I can't think of any good

>You're familiar with the story of Shadrack and his friends who were
tossed into the fiery furnace? What a miracle that was! How do you
make a furnace seven times hotter than it ought to be? We all know
how furnaces operate. I couldn't take a furnace and figure out any
way to double the heat, let alone multiply it seven times. And that
was done by Nebuchadnezzer. Tackle that one with physics and math.

Tackle it with linguistics. I'd bet that the "seven times hotter" was by a
subjective measure--not an objective measument of temperature (they didn't
even have thermometers). In ancient thinking, 7 was the number of
completeness. Nebuchandnezzer may have only been saying make is as hot as
possible--well beyond the design temperature, regardless of the consequences
(which they did, and some people died).

On the other hand, the survival of Shadrack & co. could only be regarded as
a temporary suspension of physics.

>The point is that you and I both have made every attempt to take the
biblical account of Genesis and remove all elements of God's interaction
that do not fall within the boundaries of scientific explanation. I know
why I do it. Scientists have an absolute disdain for any explanatory powers
of miracles. If we wish to invoke a miracle for everything we can't explain
it impedes all inquiry to find what may be simple natural causes. And that
is a valid complaint.

The concept of "divine coincidence" does seem to beg the question. But it
is more honest than insisting on suspensions of physics in cases when it's
clear to a non-beleiver that natural phenomena could have produced the
result. Such an insistence forces us to fight a losing battle. Honestly
admiting a natural mechanism--where reasonable--let's us get to the point of
God's work on earth (rather than sidetracking on mechanism).

>So maybe we can't understand the physics of a 2900 BC flood. Remember, it
was called down by God as a penalty for sin. It was God's decree.

Under Glenn's theory and the above frame work, placing ancient man in the
Mediteranean basin was the perfect set up for the flood that God foreknew
would be necessary. A spectacular divine coincidence, carefully planned &
set up by God in advance (i.e., decreed by he who is outside of the
time-space continuum).

>Do we require that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was by entirely
natural causes? What is the scientific explanation of Lot's wife turning
into a pillar of salt?

I thought the area was volcanically active, hence a catastophy waiting to
happen. Could Lot's wife have been miraculously hit by a big splatter of
molten salt (partly because she didn't run for cover fast enough)?

>Did Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10) die of natural causes?

An autopsy may have revealed perfectly natural causes (say, heart attacks,
aneurisms, etc.). Again, miraculous timing.

>I honestly believe the explanation I have offered for a local, recent and
historic flood fits every jot and tittle of Scripture. It may not havebeen
an event, however, totally deprived of God's assistance. If, and I
only say if, that is the case you might expect that some of what transpired
may be unexplainable by entirely scientific methods.

Under Glenn's theory, wouldn't only Noah's fore knowledge of the flood need
to be miraculous. (?)

Question for Glenn: Why didn't God just have Noah & co. climb out of the
Med. basin? Too steep? Too many animals? ??? That's a question for Dick
too: Why didn't Noah just leave the flood plain, driving the animals before

As someone said to a skeptical friend, "When I pray, coincidences happen.
When I don't pray, coincidences don't happen".

In Brotherly love & inquiry,

Dennis Sweitzer