April 12, 2012 —
It would seem that use of the lunar calendar has its advantages. Rather than attempting to fit holidays into the school schedule, or playing fast and loose with historical dates simply to create a three-day weekend, staying true to Biblical reference can be equally convenient. This year, both Easter and Passover occurred at the same time, which had more to do with the phases of the moon than man’s interference.
With folks from all denominations simultaneously celebrating across the Upper Delaware Valley, my events calendar slowed down for a minute and I had time to pause and ponder the apparent absence of miraculous phenomena that seemed almost commonplace in the old days.
Sometimes I think life was far more interesting before we came up with sensible explanations for what was then considered “divine intervention.” I’m not sure that I need the history channel (www.history.com ) using computer simulations to explain the story of Passover, including the parting of the Red Sea. Carl Drews, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (www.ucar.edu ) is rather insistent that “the simulations match fairly closely with the account in Exodus” and that “the parting of the waters can be understood through fluid dynamics.”
Cambridge University professor Colin Humphreys, who wrote “The Miracles of Exodus” (www.amazon.com ) agrees, and claims simply that the waters were “blown by the wind.” Leaving a supreme being out of the equation altogether, his book goes on to claim that “if a strong wind was to suddenly stop, you could get a huge wall of water which would explain how the Egyptians (who were chasing the Israelites) were drowned.” Hmmm.
While Humphreys’ rather simplistic explanation for Moses and his flock surviving the onslaught seems lacking, he is not alone in attempting to explain what occurred thousands of years ago, before Internet chat rooms reigned supreme. Zillions of web sites devoted to scientific explanations for biblical miracles abound and the dizzying array of theories confound and confuse even the most discerning researcher.
In “ A Skeptic’s Guide to Passover” (www.slate.com ), author Michael David Lukas examines everyday explanations for each of the 10 Biblical plagues, citing epidemiologist John Marr’s “domino theory,” which claims in part that “water borne organisms turned the Nile red, killing the frog-eating fish, which in turn caused a population explosion among frogs.” The abundance of lice, flies and even the deaths of “first-born sons” can also apparently be explained, according to Marr’s theory. Leaving no stone unturned, even the infamous “burning bush” fails to make the miracle list (spontaneous combustion), once the story has been dissected by these “scholars.”
Hebrew University psychology professor Benny Shannon’s claims that Moses was “hallucinating” as a result from ingesting drugs (www.haaretz.com ) has it’s place (I suppose) in theory, but attains new heights in absurdity and (IMHO), is to many, just plain sacrilegious. It’s my belief that miracles still occur, although they may be less dramatic than those depicted in the Bible. I have to agree with author Humphreys’ conclusion that “a natural explanation of the events of the Exodus doesn’t, to my mind, make them any less miraculous.” Timing, after all, is everything.