Red Sea Parted “Naturally”?

on September 25, 2010

USA Today: “Study seeks to explain the parting of the Red Sea A recently reported study by meteorologist Carl Drews has suggested a way in which the waters of the Red Sea could have parted “naturally,” enabling the children of Israel, led by Moses, to cross as pharaoh’s army pursued (Exodus 14). Such an explanation might leave God with credit for the timing of the event, but little else.

Drews has proposed that a 63 mph wind blowing for 12 hours could have pushed back a wall of water.

The courses of rivers and the locations of shorelines do change over time, and using satellite imagery to suggest a site where a branch in the Nile River delta once drained into a coastal lagoon, Drews has proposed that a 63 mph wind blowing for 12 hours could have pushed back a wall of water, exposed a land bridge, and held it for the crossing. This effect, called wind setdown, is sort of the opposite of storm surge. On the one hand, the wind setdown concept is somewhat more refreshing than the popular claim that the Israelites waded through a “reed sea,” inevitably leading to the joke about a little boy being amazed that God could drown the Egyptian army in six inches of water. The wind setdown idea is not inconsistent with the biblical fact ( Exodus 14:21-22 ) that God caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night—after all, God created the wind and the water and can command them to behave as He chooses. However, the existence of a physical explanation for a miraculous phenomenon is not necessary and the demand for one prior to believing a biblical miracle is foolhardy.

Asked to comment on the study, Ken Ham, President and CEO of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, states the following:

The end of the storm was a natural event miraculously obeying a supernatural God.

The parting of the Red Sea was a miracle. It was an extraordinary act of God (Exodus 14). Yet, God used a force of nature—wind—to bring about this miracle. But there is no need to come up with a naturalistic explanation of a supernatural event.

This current research involving computer modeling is based on the assumption that such an event has a naturalistic explanation, and that nothing supernatural was involved. Regardless of whatever results are found and ideas that are proposed, the researchers have accepted one part of the account in the Bible—that the Red Sea crossing by the Israelites really occurred—but they have already ruled out the rest of the account: that it was the result of a supernatural event. Besides, any such research can never ultimately prove or disprove what happened, and the only way we could know for sure is if there was an eyewitness account. The Bible gives us a record from the ultimate Eyewitness, the God of Creation.

When, as recorded in the New Testament, Jesus calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee, His disciples were amazed that the winds and the sea obeyed him ( Luke 8:24–25 and Matthew 8:26–27). The end of the storm was a natural event miraculously obeying a supernatural God. Yet just a few years later, Jesus arose from the grave. These same disciples were eyewitnesses to the evidence of that miraculous event, an event for which there is no possible naturalistic explanation. We must be careful to avoid limiting our faith to only those acts of God that we can explain according to the laws of the physical world. He miraculously created those physical laws, and He can miraculously use them or override them as He chooses.


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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.