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September 21st, 2010
02:52 PM ET

The science behind Moses and the parting of the sea


An illustration based on new research shows how wind could have moved and
split waters from two ancient basins.

The parting of the waters described in the book of Exodus that enabled Moses and the Israelites to escape the pharaoh's army is possible, computer simulations run by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado at Boulder show.

To test the theory that the biblical account may have depicted actual events, the researchers studied maps of the region, archaeological records and satellite measurements to find a topographical feature where such an event might have been possible. They settled on an area south of the Mediterranean Sea where some oceanographers say a branch of the Nile River drained into what was called the Lake of Tanis, a coastal lagoon 3,000 years ago.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Culture & Science • Moses • Science

soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. believer

    It takes more faith to believe in this science falsely so called than God. And how does an entire army drown in 6 feet of water?....

    October 3, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
  2. Muneef

    many miracles that could be found just as those found here:http://www.quranmiracles.com/?gclid=CJz9p8HBo6QCFUWQzAodpWdE6A

    September 28, 2010 at 12:33 am |
  3. Muneef

    With all respect to comment to your views on Larry King to Interview Stephen Hawking about the form of God?? The form of God in the Quran as says to be of Light more like of the moon light since, says Alqamar Nora. God Allah has given his form of being in Quran Sura 24:35 puzzle of which I challenge Mr.Stephen Hawking or NASA to decode it and if they did they would not declare it because Quran is a challenge to science and I am sure if this guy is intelligent enough through understanding the miracals of the Quran would be able to decode many miracles that could be found.

    September 27, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
  4. yinmtsaadia81

    A miracle is something exceptional – why does science have to prove it?

    September 22, 2010 at 11:41 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Find and read my post on this, just before the Youtube "Call to Prayer") video.

      You are right about this.

      September 23, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  5. Frogist

    I find the kind of comments on this article to be very interesting. Some say this is proof supporting christians while others say it's proof condemning christians. It's all very odd. If you're a christian who cares what science thinks, you can say, "There! Science says our miraculous story ocurred." If you're an atheist who cares about the validity of the bible you can say, "There! Science says your story wasn't a miracle." But you would both be wrong. This article does not condemn or support anyone. Science offered proof that the Moses story is possible. Atheists, just because science said it is possible, does not put the entire idea of god to rest. God could have sent the wind. Christians, just because science says it's possible, does not prove this event actually happened. The report does not say god sent the wind. It all sounds like so much egotistical bickering sometimes. It's almost like neither of you want to see the other side of things sometimes.

    September 22, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
    • David Johnson

      I'm sorry Frogist. Science cannot speak to the supernatural. See my comment to kate, above.

      September 22, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  6. David Johnson

    @Mike

    Note that the Nova program, does agree with the facts in Realities post. So, there are multiple sources.

    September 22, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  7. David Johnson

    I found this in Wikipedia. It was taken from: "The Bible's Buried Secrets" the t itle of a NOVA program. Its first airing was on PBS, on November 18, 2008.

    It was very interesting. I thought I would share.

    On the Origins of Israel
    There is no archaeological evidence to corroborate the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah's flood and Abraham.
    There is no evidence to support the mass exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, although some now believe that a small group did escape from Egypt; however, they were not Israelites but, rather, Canaanite slaves. On their journey back to Canaan they pass through Midian, where they are inspired by stories of the Shasu's god, Yhw.

    The Land of Canaan (called the Promised Land in the Hebrew Bible) was not taken over by conquest as described in the Book of Joshua – rather, the Israelites actually might have been Canaanites who migrated into the highlands and created a new ident ity for themselves. Of the 31 sites the Bible says that Joshua conquered, few showed any signs of war. "Joshua really didn't fight the Battle of Jericho," Dever said.

    Some events of the Israelite kingdom given in the Book of Kings is more or less accurate as history.

    On the development of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh
    The Bible's first books have been traced back to multiple authors writing over a span of centuries.(see Doc umentary hypothesis)
    The early books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Samuel and Kings, reached almost their present form during the Babylonian exile of the 6th century BCE.

    On the development of monotheism in Israel
    The Israelite religion was not exclusively monotheistic from the beginning as suggested in the Hebrew Bible, rather, the archaeological evidence indicates that before the Babylonian exile in the 6th centry BCE, the early Israelites were polytheistic and worshipped the local god Yahweh alongside his "wife," a fertility goddess named Asherah.
    The emergence of monotheism and the belief in the universality of Yahweh was a response to the tragic experience of the Babylonian exile of the Israelites in the 6th century BCE. According to Dever, " It's out of this that comes the reflection that polytheism was our[Israelites] downfall"

    September 22, 2010 at 10:57 am |
    • Kate

      @David Johnson

      Nice catch!

      Then again, everything I know about Asherah I learned from Neal Stephenson's fantastic classic Snow Crash

      I kind of prefer his version :)

      Just readin'

      September 22, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  8. Doc Vestibule

    I've always though the story allegorical.
    I could see how a mass of people fleeing with nothing but the rags on their backs could manage to cross a body of water while their persuers, laden with weapons, armor, chariots, etc. would be unable to follow.

    September 22, 2010 at 8:36 am |
    • David Johnson

      The bottom of the newly uncovered lake bed would have had sediment and mud and plants.

      Wouldn't they have at least gotten their sandals muddy?

      September 22, 2010 at 10:20 am |
    • David Johnson

      I agree with you. I've always thought the entire bible was allegorical.

      Does allegorical mean B.S.?

      September 22, 2010 at 10:21 am |
    • Kate

      @David Johnson

      I could never tell the difference between Allegory and Crocodilly

      Just sayin'

      September 22, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  9. Xavier Xaela daXanadu

    MORTALS! Do not attempt to undermine my authority. I am emperor Xavier. Only I can control the weather! As long my followers and I remain in control of the high pressure systems in our area, no hurricane will touch our city of Jacksonville. We will continue raising surface albedo with bright white particulates and blanket the area with hydrophobic ashes ... Until a tremendous drought takes hold of the southeast U. S. Like Moses, I hate water, wind, and earth ... Fire, ice, and lightning are my elements. Angie and Rex, you two need to go somewhere else for you are a mere gas to thine radioman. Thou wilt find doom up yonder. I AM GOD! I AM NEITHER ALPHA NOR OMEGA FOR I AM THE INFINITY. I Am the universe and my glory will not be denied by the lights of you. Jesus may be real, but your Gods are a traitor. My son Jesus and I will shread this miserable world asunder. All your riches and vanity will crush you all like the red sea drowned the egyptians. Ha ha ha! Welcome to your doom, mortals! Ha ha ha!

    September 22, 2010 at 4:41 am |
    • Kate

      @Xavier

      You're a bloody nutter is what you are :P

      Just sayin'

      September 22, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  10. Critter

    Didn't this theory come out in the 80's? Because it has been around a LONG time...maybe even as far back as that "Chariots of the Gods" movie...the Ark in Turkey, UFOs, Aliens needing Nazca lines to land, the wind upon the bit of seafloor so Moses could act like Charleton Heston...I can't remember all of that loony-bin stuff.
    But why would anyone want to?

    September 22, 2010 at 12:50 am |
    • Kate

      @Critter

      More a case that the Nazca lines are the remains of markings/boundaries for them to land on, than them needing them as navigation points.

      My theory as to why the aliens all departed afterwards is the spaceflight industry started nickle and dimeing its passengers – fees for checked luggage, waking you up from suspended animation from your trip, a pod with curtains, oxygen extra, connecting flights to mars, lost luggage (the images of figures were really drawn by irate passengers), the withdrawal of peanuts for any flight under 50,000 light years, an in-flight movie that was 10,000 years old even way back then, and flight attendants who quit by jumping out in escape pods.

      Just sayin'

      September 22, 2010 at 9:14 am |
    • Critter

      @Kate

      Yay! You have returned! The prodigal returns! Let there be feasting throughout the land!
      (we've been suffering withdrawal symptoms, you see)

      "And the word went forth that Kate had returned to them...and there was much rejoicing." (yay!)

      September 22, 2010 at 9:18 am |
    • Kate

      @Critter

      Aren't you supposed to slaughter the fatted Reality for the feast?

      Just hopin'

      September 22, 2010 at 11:39 am |
    • Critter

      @Kate

      I would invite Reality to the feasting, but not as the main course! Besides, he wants to talk to you about a speeding ticket or something like that. He says he's got a bunch of statistics to prove that you forged his name....

      ...ohh, you're gonna get it!

      September 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
    • Kate

      @Critter

      I'm safe, it's a genuine signature – copied and pasted it myself :)

      Just crackin' up

      September 22, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  11. Reality

    Hmmm, apparently the following note was deleted for some strange reason. Once again what 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis have concluded about Abraham, Moses, and the Book of Exodus:

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

    The original note also took Jehovah to task for not preventing the Holocaust whereas said singularity saved the Jewish people fleeing Egypt. Not preventing the Holocaust simply adds more rationale that there never was an opening of the Red Sea and the whole Exodus story line was all fiction.

    September 21, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
    • Mike

      You really have to stop cutting and pasting this article just because two guys who ignore the evidence (mostly of the drawings on pottery found in the region) to get there books publish and make the news, after all it's not news if you tell people what is already know, does not make it fact.

      Question if Moses never existed who wrote the torah?

      September 22, 2010 at 8:14 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Mike

      http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_tora1.htm

      It has been known for some time, that Moses was not at best, the sole author of the first 5 books of the bible. Why? Some of the stuff that was written about, occurred after Moses was dead. German scholars first wrote of this.

      I have included a site that has more information on this. Go there and read up on it.

      I don't wish to discuss it. I merely want to bring enlightenment to you.

      September 22, 2010 at 10:15 am |
  12. Angela Biships

    I think the surge and electrimagneto (what rex said) theories sound reasonable. Moses didn't part the sea, God did it. Also one might approach the story from a metephoric point of view. Liken the sea to a crowd of chaotic people. Just raise your hand and call upon God. Then the chaos parts and if God wills, the sea of people will step aside. They will drown in there own chaos.

    September 21, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.