From: bivalve (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu May 15 2003 - 10:55:27 EDT
Bob wrote: >So, could God have stopped the rotation of the earth without tidal forces tearing it and us apart<
As Bob and others have noted, could and did are separate questions.
The number and extent of natural laws set aside is no constraint on God's ability, but in light of His general style, it seems as though He minimizes such actions. In this case there are more options besides stopping the earth's rotation and figurative interpretation. There is also the possibility that the miracle in question was achieved by some other means. I have seen the suggestion that changing the inclination of the earth (i.e., making the Arctic Circle much closer to Palestine) would avoid the problems of stopping the earth. This certainly does not eliminate the question of conservation of momentum, though it might mitigate it somewhat (not having attempted the calculations).
I believe that exceptionally good weather is a possible interpretation of the description in Joshua (and later references back to it), given its brevity. In particular, I think I have encountered the claim that the sun "stopping" is more normally read as being cut off (i.e., getting shade during the battle) rather than ceasing motion. More in keeping with the popular interpretation of extraordinary duration of sunlight would be some more local cause, e.g. assuming simply a miraculous floodlight, possibly in the guise of some atmospheric phenomenon.
Dr. David Campbell
University of Alabama
Biodiversity & Systematics
Dept. Biological Sciences
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0345 USA
That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at Droitgate Spa
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