EDITORIAL: For Exodus, science enters

The waters don’t always part between faith and nature

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The Lord, according to an old saying, acts in mysterious ways. Sometimes science helps explain the mystery.

Every few years, a new study using modern scientific techniques confirms the possibility that seemingly miraculous biblical events actually occurred. The latest example was reported yesterday in OurAmazingPlanet. According to a study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, it’s feasible that a “strong east wind” created a temporary passage through the Red Sea for Israelites to escape Egypt on a strip of land near a now-defunct branch of the Nile River.

“The simulations match fairly closely with the account in Exodus,” explained project leader Carl Drews. “The parting of the waters can be understood through fluid dynamics. The wind moves the water in a way that’s in accordance with physical laws, creating a safe passage with water on two sides and then abruptly allowing the water to rush back in.”

This proves nothing definitive, of course. Nor was the Israelites’ escape account proved in 2004 when Cambridge University scientist Colin Humphreys described this phenomenon of “wind setdown” in his book “The Miracles of Exodus.” Nor was it dispositive when “Avatar” filmmaker James Cameron produced a 2006 documentary about a theoretical reaction to a volcanic eruption that could have led to the 10 plagues of Egypt and a tsunamilike event matching the Bible’s tale of the sea’s great parting.

To some, it’s a stretch to assert that a force called God acts within the laws of a natural system He created, but that’s where faith comes into play. According to the New and Old Testaments, God speaks in parables and teaches and acts through symbols so we can more easily understand truth. In a brutish age when doubt of all received wisdom, including that of faith, is the reigning orthodoxy, it’s a welcome consolation for many when science buttresses faith - even against prevailing winds.

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