Proving God

I recently viewed a DVD from the History Channel entitled Proving God. It looked at the possibilities of reconciling science with faith, and whether or not science might one day be able to prove (or disprove) the existence of God. It talks about the possible discovery of the Theory of Everything (TOE), where some hope to find "the God Particle" to explain gravity, nuclear forces, chemical interactions, electro-magnetism, quantum mechanics, and life itself.

It explained the science behind the proton collision of the Large Hedron Collider (LHC), and the possibility of being able to explain the Big Bang Theory, and what was before the Big Bang. Some hope to be able to either replace God with science or produce evidence of God. To many, evolution offers the best scientific explanation of life. Still there's much debate about whether or not everything happened by chance, or by necessity. Stephen Hawking as said, "... the universe can and will create itself." We don't need God. Others favor the Theory of the Fine-Tuned Universe, with God is the architect.

Of course, science cannot prove God, but He is certainly suggested. So, how does one go about trying to find quantifiable proof of a Creator? Is there tangible evidence of God on earth? Can we use science to prove that God exists and that the Bible is the literal Word of God? One suggestion was to find the lost Ark of the Covenant. It was a central treasure to the Jewish religion, and therefore to Judeo-Christian truth. Some believe that it's locked away in an obscure part of Ethiopia, and they are even trying to do DNA testing on people there to try to trace them back to the nation of Israel. Of course, even discovering the Ark of the Covenant would not constitute enough evidence for some people to see the physical proof of God.

Well, this video sets out to use scientific investigation to prove whether or not certain miracles of the Bible could have occurred. Although we will examine this further below, we first need to discuss the concept of a miracle. What is a miracle? The dictionary defines a miracle as being an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.

There are two Hebrew words in the Old Testament that are translated as "miracle." The first one is "pala," and we believe that the meaning of this word is: miracle, surpassing, extraordinary, difficult, special, wonderful, marvelous, monstrous, or "show your power." The second word is "mopheth," meaning: miracle, wonder, sign, portent, marvel, symbol, or token. The Greek word for "miracle" in the New Testament is "dunamis," meaning: miracle, power, might, or strength.

So, most theologians believe that a miracle is something that defies the normal physical laws of the universe. It is supernatural because its purpose is that God can show his power and strength, beyond the laws of nature and science. Perhaps the best example of this is 2 Kings 6:5-7. A man was cutting down a tree when his iron axe head fell into the water. Elisha cut a stick and threw it in the water, and the iron axe head floated to the top of the water so that the man was able to retrieve it. This was a miracle that defied the very nature of gravity. The purpose of the miracle was to show God's power so that everyone would know that Elisha was indeed a prophet of the true God.

Of course, there is much debate as to whether or not miracles still occur today. Some attest to medical miracles, such as the complete remission of cancer, unexplained by oncologists. Others just write these things off as the "placebo effect"--physiological and psychological effect upon the immune system.

So, I'm not so sure that we will ever be able to explain miracles. If they are above the natural laws of the universe, then science will probably never be able to understand them. If, on the other hand, God acted upon and within the natural laws of the universe, then science might be able to learn more about them. This is the approach taken in the Proving God DVD in order to explore one particular biblical miracle in depth--the parting of the Red Sea in the book of Exodus.

How could the Red Sea have been parted to allow the Israelites to cross it, and then have it smash down upon the Egyptian army? This seems impossible based upon scientific understanding of physics and fluid dynamics. The Red Sea is up to 200 miles wide and 1600 feet deep. Well, we have discovered that there is one particular spot that makes this event seem much more likely--the Strait of Tiran at the Gulf of Aqaba. At that spot, the Red Sea is reduced to an 8-mile channel which is only 30 feet deep.

On certain occasions, scientists have observed a phenomenon called wind setdown, where vast amounts of water have indeed been displaced, and then the water has violently returned to its original place in what scientists called bore waves. The conclusion in the DVD is that it would indeed be possible for this to cause a parting of the Red Sea the Strait of Tiran. If a northeast wind were to blow all night long, it could force the water there to back up as far as one mile, allowing for the crossing of a large group of people, although they say that such a perfect storm as this would only occur once every 2,400 years. Incidentally, such a wind could have also dried the sea bottom so that the people could pass "on dry ground" as noted in Exodus 14:22.

However, they cite a problem with the number of Israelites that crossed the Red Sea in a limited amount of time. Exodus 12:37 says, "There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children." This means that there would have been about 2 million people crossing. In this perfect storm, scientists believe that the waters could have stayed parted for only about four hours which would not be enough time for 2 million Israelites to cross through the mile-wide parting. This, they surmise, could be a matter of translation and interpretation. The Hebrew word for "thousand" could be translated as "group" or "troop," which sometimes consist of only ten men. So, instead of 600,000 men (over the age of 20), perhaps there were only 5,000 men, with the total group including women and children numbering only about 15,000. This, they say, would have been possible--that 15,000 people could have crossed the 8-mile long and one-mile wide parting in four hours. Then, after these people had safely crossed, the winds could have stopped, and the returning water in the resulting bore wave could have destroyed the Egyptian army.

So, it seems that one of four possibilities exists:

1) This is just a myth. It never really happened. While some people are claiming to find evidence of ancient chariot wheels and other chariot parts on the floor of the Red Sea, others are just writing it off as natural coral. Many scientists wouldn't even bother studying this event because they don't believe that it every occurred.

2) Moses was extremely lucky in happening to time this crossing. He hit the one night in 2,400 years when a scientifically explained weather phenomenon occurred.

3) God had a direct hand in this (though not a "miracle") by planning this timing so that the Israelites would indeed make their escape on this certain night which science can explain. The DVD suggests that, in this way, science provided the "how," while faith provided the "why."

4) This was a miracle. When Moses stretched out his hand, God defied gravity and science by supernaturally parting the Red Sea, whether at the Strait of Tiran or a different location.

As a believer, I think that the latter offers the best explanation. The Bible is absolutely and literally true, this crossing occurred, and it was made possible by a miracle so that God could show His power.

Owen Weber 2012