As we are concluding the holidays of Passover and Easter, it’s fitting to address the issue of miracles. This is an excerpt from my new book, “No Regrets Living – 7 Keys to a Life of Wonder and Contentment.” The book deals extensively with Science vs. Faith, from my perspective as a career clinician-scientist, and a person of faith.
Did the Red Sea (the proper translation is actually the Sea of Reeds) really split for the ancient Hebrews following a great wind, on Moses’s command, as it says in the book of Exodus in the Old Testament? Or was there a natural phenomenon that occurred just as they arrived at the shore, making their timing the true miracle? Or did it happen at all? In 2014, the Washington Post published a piece on a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the top US research center for atmospheric science in the United States. This scientist had developed and published (in a highly respected, peer-reviewed journal) a computer model proving the feasibility of the Sea of Reeds splitting during a dramatic windstorm, the type of windstorm that actually occurs in certain parts of the world like the Middle East (and Lake Erie!). Here’s what his study found:
What atmospheric phenomenon could make this occur? The (published) paper describes a coastal effect called a “wind setdown,” in which strong winds—a little over 60 miles per hour—create a “push” on coastal water which, in one location, creates a storm surge. But in the location from which the wind pushes—in this case, the east—the water moves away. Such occurrences have been observed in the past in Lake Erie, among other places—and . . . also in the Nile Delta itself in the year 1882. “Wind setdown happens just as often as storm surge, but hardly ever hurts people, it just blows a harbor completely dry,” says Drews. “So this water sloshes from one side of the body to the other and leaves a dry place.”[i]