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Do the miracles of the Bible have natural explanations?

wikipedia.org/the Providence Lithograph Company 1907 crossing-red-sea
Israel’s Escape from Egypt

Kyle, L., United States, wrote:

Dear CMI, your articles are wonderful gifts, and they have changed my mind on Evolution. While I was never an Atheist, I strongly considered it after being taught Evolution in college. Now, as a former Evolutionist, I can say that your website is an eye opener that I could not have been more thankful for.

However, there is one article that provides scientific links that question the validity of the Bible itself, and as a man of science, they baffle me, though I am not so easily swayed from my faith, I still can’t answer them. I have searched for an article on your website that answers these, but I have found no answers yet. (Here is the address to the website, I still don’t know how to provide links: [URL removed as per feedback rules—Ed.]

There’s some rough language in the article, but it isn’t overwhelming.

If these questions have been asked and answered on this website already, I sincerely apologize.

, CMI-US, responds:

I know that when I want solid Bible scholarship, I go to the popular humor website Cracked! Seriously though, the level of argumentation is about what you would expect given some of the other subject matter covered there. But to answer the naturalistic explanations in the order given:

6) “Manna from Heaven was probably beetle cocoons.”

Problems with this are: The manna didn’t appear until the people cried out for food (Exodus 16:1–4). The manna evaporated in the heat (Exodus 16:21). The manna wasn’t there on the Sabbath. They could keep the manna overnight on Friday, but only Friday (Exodus 16:22–26). The manna appeared on schedule without fail for 40 years until the very first day the people ate the fruit from the land of Canaan (Joshua 5:12). Sure, there may be a type of beetle with a sweet, edible cocoon, but that doesn’t explain the numerous specific details given in the text about manna. Plus, I don’t know the nutritional makeup of these beetle cocoons, but they probably wouldn’t suffice as an entire nation’s sole food source for 40 years—few foods would.

5) “The burning bush was an acacia bush sitting over a volcanic vent—and psychoactive plant matter was burning too explaining the vision.”

Seriously? Seriously? That’s the best they can come up with? Before I actually answer this, I want to take a moment to point and laugh at the inanities unbelievers are driven to by their refusal to believe the text. If Moses had stumbled off the mountain and failed to do anything that Yahweh told him to do—free the slaves from the most powerful country of the day, doing a series of miraculous signs in the process, sure, we might laugh. But Moses saw a vision—and then took out the most powerful country of the day.

4) “The star of Bethlehem was probably a triple planetary conjunction.”

Because triple planetary conjunctions can lead someone to a specific house (Matthew 2:9–11). Nor did Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn ever come close enough around that time to be called a single ‘star’ rather than three distinct objects. Even if it was an astronomical event, however, there are Christians who take that interpretation, too, so it’s not a point for atheists.

3) “The reversal of Hezekiah’s sundial may have been down to overcast skies and refraction.”

Crazy timing and precision would be required for the sundial to turn back exactly the degree indicated and exactly the time Hezekiah asked for it. And it was significant enough to be a sign, so it can’t have been something that happened all the time (ancient people weren’t stupid).

2) “Fire from heaven was anvil lightning”

Sure, ‘fire from heaven’ may refer to lightning. But it’s another instance of crazy timing, because it wasn’t happening when the priests of Baal were putting on their show, or when Elijah was having the water carted up to pour over the altar, or at any point before Elijah prayed and requested it. The God who created lightning can certainly control when to send it.

1) “Moses’ parting of the Red Sea might be possible with strong winds”:

Not strong enough to form a corridor wide enough for all of Israel to pass through on dry land. And another miracle with crazy timing, because it closed up after the last Israelite made it across, and when the entire Egyptian army was present, was completely destroyed, by a ‘strong wind’ immediately letting way?

What about all the other miracles? I want to know the naturalistic explanation for how Jesus walked on water, or how He multiplied the loaves and the fishes, or how He raised Lazarus from the dead after he had begun to stink from decomposition. How about how Paul was bitten by a poisonous adder and lived? What about the floating axe head? What Cracked has done is put together a little list of attempts to answer various miracles from a skeptical position. It’s even kind of cute how they end the article on a note of realizing that they have ignored “the larger theological question of whether or not these things truly happened, much less if there was an intelligent God behind them guiding the wind, lightning, and other natural phenomenon [sic]”.

We are encouraged that our information has made an impact on your faith. Keep digging for the truth.

Published: 30 July 2016

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