Six more items about Bible miracles appear below:




MORE EXPLANATION WANTED

(Investigator 168, 2016 May)


Hello again, I would like to ask as to how one would explain the miracles of the following.


Moses speaks to a Rock for Water
Numbers 20:8
Aaron's rod budded Kadesh Numbers 17
The widow's oil multiplied
2 Kings 4:2-7
Jeroboam's hand withered Bethel 1 Kings 13:4, 5
Shadrach, Meshach, etc. delivered Babylon Daniel 3:19-27
The Writing on the Wall Babylon Daniel 5

                
As usual Anonymous does a great job in showing how these miracles may very well be probable historical events, so I would wonder how these cases of miracles in the Bible could be possible in the natural world.

Tyrese Biggums





MORE MIRACLES

Anonymous

(Investigator 169, 2016 July)


Six more miracles


Tyrese Biggums (Investigator 168) lists a further six "miracles" in the Old Testament and wants natural explanations for them.


In previous editions of Investigator I interpreted about 30 miracles as being in part natural occurrences which happened at the right time to achieve religious goals or motivate faith.

I rely on science and history and therefore cannot go faster than the information is discovered.

To discover explanations for the thirty or so "miracles" took science thousands of years! To find natural or partly natural explanations for all the other "miracles" might require thousands more years!


More "miracles" supported

However, two of the six "miracles" Biggums listed, already have possible explanations. First, the water from the rock:

Numbers 20 reports that the Israelites feared they would die in the desert from lack of water. The account continues:

7 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

8Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, and you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall bring water out of the rock for them; thus you shall provide drink for all the congregation and their livestock.

9 So Moses took the staff from before the LORD, as he had commanded him.

10 Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, "Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?"

11 Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank. (Numbers 20:1-13; Exodus 17:1-7)
 



Werner Keller (1974) writes:

Moses is said to have taken his rod and produced water by striking a rock Ex.176) an action which has been regarded, and not only by skeptics, as quite incomprehensible, although the Bible is merely once more recording a perfectly natural occurrence.

Major C. S. Jarvis, who was British Governor of Sinai in the thirties, has seen it happen himself. He writes: “Moses striking the rock at Rephidim and the water gushing out sounds like a genuine miracle, but the writer has actually seen this happen. Several men of the Sinai Camel Corps had halted in a dry wadi and were in the process of digging about in the rough sand that had accumulated at the foot of a rock face. They were trying to get at the water that was trickling slowly out of the limestone rock. The men were taking their time about it and Bash Shawish, the coloured sergeant, said: ‘Here, give it to me!’ He took the spade of one of the men and began digging furiously in the manner of N.C.O.'s the world over who want to show their men how to do things but have no intention of keeping it up for more than a couple of minutes. One of his violent blows hit the rock by mistake. The smooth hard crust which always forms on weathered limestone split open and fell away. The soft stone underneath was thereby exposed and out of its apertures shot a powerful stream of water.

George M. Lamsa (translator of the Lamsa Bible) writes:

In Arabia and other arid lands where water is scarce, wells and other sources of water are hidden in order to discourage roaming tribes from encamping, grazing the area, and using the scanty water supplies. Then again, in all parts of the Near East wells are covered to prevent animals and men from falling into them and to keep the drinking water clean. Large stones are placed upon the mouths of the wells and water sources, and are then covered with earth. Therefore, hidden wells are not easy to locate. God told Moses where to strike, and when he struck the rock or uncovered the mouth of the well, he found abundant water for the people to drink and for the herds and flocks also.


Writing on the Wall

The "Writing on the wall" incident is narrated in Daniel 5.

It was the last night of Babylon's independence before its conquest by Persians and Medes.

Apparently only King Belshazzar saw a hand write on the wall — "The king was watching the hand as it wrote." (5:5) Others saw the words but no-one could read them. (5:8) It required Daniel to identify the four words and read them out. (5:24-28)

Laurie Eddie (1996) writing on "Simulacra" says:

Adelaide has been agog recently with reports of a miraculous event taking place in the small southern township of Yankalilla [south of Adelaide]. The faithful have been witness to the manifestation of the Madonna and Child appearing on the rear wall of the small local Anglican Christ Church, an appearance which many claim is a great miracle…

Well, sorry to disappoint the believers, but the "apparition" at Yankalilla appears to be nothing more than a common type of visual illusion, what is called a simulacrum, an abstract pattern which produces the impression to people viewing it of some recognizable shape…

Simulacra are quite common and can be "seen" in a diverse range of locations, such as patterned dies or wallpaper, in clouds, on hillsides, or in rock formations. Another very common location is amongst trees and rocks. Some examples … have been elfin faces, a sleeping puppy, and the Madonna. One can even see the simulacrum of a running man in the opening screen of Windows '95.

Daniel 5:5 mentions the "plaster on the wall" and it's known that one source of "simulacra" is damaged or bubbled plaster. The writing happened "next to the lampstand" — therefore lighting and shadows played a part. King Belshazzar was "under the influence of the wine" (1:2) as was everyone at the banquet. (1:3) And with Babylon besieged by enemies (5:28-31) the situation was highly tense and everyone therefore impressionable.

A natural explanation, given these circumstances, is that shadows produced by flickering light were interpreted by the intoxicated King as a finger and hand, whereupon he interpreted damaged plaster on the wall as unreadable writing. After one person sees a "simulacrum", especially an important person such as the King, others will likely see what he sees, or at least agree. Since only Daniel could read the words, nobody was in a position to disagree with Daniel.

The "miraculous" aspect that remains is the timing.

Banquets, flickering light, shadows and intoxication happened all the time. It is only on this one night, the night before Babylon was conquered, that the King saw a hand write words on the wall, words which Daniel interpreted as predicting the King's imminent death and loss of his kingdom.



The logic

For decades I've argued that we can examine the Bible's statements on "miracles" or astronomy or history or zoology or genetics or pediatrics or geography or futurology or ethics, etc, and in every area we find statements supported by science.

Based on such results I claim that the Bible is trustworthy even in matters we cannot yet confirm or test. It is simply a matter of extending the observed trend i.e. extrapolating.

This is actually the logic — called "inductive logic" or "inductive reasoning" — that everyone uses all the time. If we need surgery we have to select a surgeon based on his past performance since we cannot see his future performance. If all pigeons so far observed are white we expect the next pigeon we see to be white also. If the laws governing sunrise have been consistent in the past we expect the Sun to rise tomorrow. And so on. If someone argues "I won't believe the Sun will rise tomorrow unless you show me tomorrow's sunrise today" we cannot satisfy him, nor can science.

History and science can presently explain or confirm only some of the "miracles" Biggums listed in #164 and #168. I’ve seen no natural explanation yet of how the three Jews survived Nebuchaddnezzar’s furnace.

What I do when pertinent discoveries come to my attention, is show that more of the Bible is getting proved, and critics disproved, as time passes. Anyone who observes this trend has a rational basis for faith.


References:

Eddie, L. Simulacra: It's All in the Eye of the Beholder, Investigator Magazine #50, September 1996

Keller, W. 1974 The Bible As History, Hodder & Stoughton

Lamsa, G.M. 1964/1978 Old Testament Light, Aramaic Bible Society (1964), A.H. Holman edition (1978)





THREE MORE MIRACLES

(Investigator 170, 2016 September)


Here are some other miracles Anonymous may have interest in finding scientific understanding for:

The widow's oil multiplied                         2 Kings 4:2-7
Aaron's rod budded                                  Numbers 17:1-9
Sacrifice consumed on Mount Carmel     1 Kings 18:30-38

Tyrese Biggums





REGARDING THREE MORE MIRACLES

Anonymous

(Investigator 171, 2016 November)


Tyrese Biggums (#170) listed three more Bible miracles and requests scientific understanding for them.

I've come across suggested explanations for all three including the sacrifice consumed on Mount Carmel, but do not personally find them convincing. 

As stated before, when I investigate the Bible I rely on science and history and therefore cannot go faster than the information is discovered and comes to my attention.

Of approximately 3000 people named in the Bible, 100 at most are so far archaeologically or historically corroborated — i.e. about 3% of the total. Of approximately 1000 geographical locations named, possibly up to 500 are confirmed — i.e. about 50%. Theologians and students have produced lists of "miracles" reported in the Bible but disagree regarding which biblical stories to include or exclude. If 200 is a rough and ready estimate of the number of "miracles" that the Bible suggests had human observers, then about 15% were natural events or partly natural and have some support in science.

We can also estimate percentages of statements confirmed in other areas of research such as astronomy, botany, ethics, history and zoology and again find that scientific confirmation is incomplete but increasing.

This is the current state of the scientific evidence available to people who want to “prove the Bible”.





AARON'S ROD BUDDING

(Investigator 174, 2017 May)

Hey there, just wanted to ask anonymous one additional question concerning miracles. What exactly is his understanding of Aaron's rod budding almonds in Numbers 17? Is there any scientific evidence that shows how nuts/fruit can grow independently from a tree?

Tyrese Biggums

 


REPLY TO TYRESE BIGGUMS REGARDING AARON'S ROD

      (Investigator 175, 2017 July)

In Bible times rods or staffs were used for self-defense, infliction of punishment, and for threshing, harvesting olives, and managing sheep. The staff sometimes symbolizes oppression but more commonly authority.

Numbers 17 records that 12 staffs belonging to 12 leaders of Israel were left overnight in the Tabernacle for God to designate which ancestral house would become the priesthood. Aaron's staff alone, "Put forth buds, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds." (17:8) I checked Wikipedia and found no natural explanation for this. Some miracles reported in the Bible include details that current science confirms but others do not.

Anonymous


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