Thursday, April 06, 2006

Of Faith & Floating Ice

A basilisk lizard, or Jesus lizard, runs across water during an experiment. These lizards can run across water for up to 15 feet (4.5 meters). Photograph courtesy PNAS

Excerpts from the Washington Post -

Floating Ice May Explain How Jesus Walked on Water, Researchers Say
By Alan Cooperman - Washington Post Staff Writer - Thursday, April 6, 2006; Page A03

Combining evidence of a cold snap 2,000 years ago with sophisticated mapping of the Sea of Galilee, Israeli and U.S. scientists have come up with a scientific explanation of how Jesus could have walked on water.

Their answer: It was actually floating ice.

The scientists acknowledge that the Sea of Galilee, in what is now northern Israel, has never frozen in modern times. But they say geological core samples suggest that average temperatures were lower in Jesus's day, and that there were at least two protracted cold spells in the region 1,500 to 2,500 years ago.

In addition to chilly weather, their explanation depends on a rare physical property of the Sea of Galilee, known to modern-day Israelis as Lake Kinneret. It is fed by salty springs along its western shore that produce plumes of dense water, thermally isolating areas that could freeze even if the entire lake did not, they assert.

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This is not the first time that Nof, 61, has attempted to debunk a biblical miracle. In 1992, he and Nathan Paldor, an atmospheric scientist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, wrote a scientific article proposing that strong winds across the narrow, shallow Gulf of Suez could have lowered the Red Sea by 10 feet, allowing the Israelites to cross to safety and then swallowing up an Egyptian army within a few minutes when the wind stopped, just as the book of Exodus says.

Nof, who described himself as a nonreligious Jew, said he hopes that critics will realize that he is an "equal opportunity miracle buster" who has taken on both Moses and Jesus.

"This isn't going to convince a believer not to believe, and nobody's trying to do that. At least, I'm not trying to do that," he said. "I personally believe that all these biblical stories are based on some truth."

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Wendy Cotter, professor of scripture at Loyola University Chicago, a Roman Catholic school, wrote her doctoral dissertation 15 years ago on biblical accounts of Jesus's stilling the wind and walking on the sea. When she heard about Nof's theory, she said, her first thought was: "Anything's possible -- but that's not what the writer means."

To the Romans, she said, the sea was "the ultimate force of nature, which was why the Caesars always claimed control over it." Jews in the time of Jesus also feared the sea and, moreover, were familiar with the Book of Job, in which God is described as the one who can "walk on the sea," she said.

In attributing to Jesus the power to walk across the waves, "Christians were using the imagery that had previously been used by both the Romans and the Jews to show that a person has been given authority by God," Cotter said. "Water, or ice, is not the point."

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I think MAXINE would rather "Aim At Heaven ...". It is time to read today's "My Utmost For His Highest" by Oswald Chambers - Prayer Edition.

Today's reading is titled - The Collision Of GOD And Sin ... and the prayer is ... O, Lord, I would praise Thee for Thy mighty Redemption at the heart of all our problems. By Thy great power raise us up to newness of life.

Good Day!

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