Using Science To Explain Stories In The Bible

In 2005, there was a miniseries on television called Revelations. The show followed the journey of an astrophysicist and a nun who team up together to stave off the End of Days. I watched it obsessively. Then I bought it on DVD. So, one of the things that struck me from the very beginning was the astrophysicist’s lecture that explained the biblical phenomenon through history with science. The only way it could have been made more interesting was if Giorgio Tsoukalos was the next speaker with the ancient alien theories. So, since fundamentalist Christians are all too eager to claim something a miracle, let’s explain the science behind the stories in the Bible.

1. The Tower Of Babel


Biblical Story

In a nutshell, men on Earth were getting too big for their britches and wanted to build a massive tower or something. So, God didn’t like it and put them back in their place by mixing their languages up and dividing them creating a multitude of nations.

Scientific Explanation

Tablets found and translated point to the theory that the Tower of Babel is inspired by the construction of a ziggurat by King Nebuchadnezzar II. Ziggurats were gargantuan pyramidlike towers in Mesopotamia built 2,500 years ago. A clue that strongly promotes this theory is this passage from the story of King Nebuchadnezzar’s massive undertaking.

“I mobilized [all] countries everywhere, [each and] every ruler [who] had been raised to prominence over all the people of the world [as one] loved by Marduk…”

2. Moses Parted the Red Sea


Biblical Story

Moses was a paramount player throughout the Old Testament. He’s the guy that freed the Israelites from the evil Pharaoh, who enslaved them. Part of the biblical tale is that as they came to the Red Sea, Moses held his arms up, and the sea parted before him allowing the Israelites to cross and escape as the Red Sea closed in on their pursuers.

Scientific Explanation

So, apparently this same phenomenon occurred in recent history in 1882. In northeastern Egypt, Lake Manzala just one day parted, and a land bridge was formed. However, scientists explained this as wind-setdown, which means the wind blew fast enough at the precise angle in which to create a temporary land bridge.

Furthermore, they found that if an easterly wind blew at 63 mph for 12 hours a land bridge would form in the ancient Nile River, which would have allowed the Israelites to escape. Since the Hebrew Bible says the Israelites crossed the “reed” sea, it is highly possible they were talking about the Nile River if a storm blew in.

3. Sodom And Gomorrah’s Demise


Biblical Story

Since we’re seeing plenty of fundamentalist Christians going berserk over the recent SCOTUS decision making gay marriage legal, let’s talk about Sodom and Gomorrah.

So, God got mad because… gay people. So, with great vengeance and furious anger, he destroyed the cities with fire and brimstone.

I really don’t have to tell this tale. We all know it and have heard it plenty the past few weeks.

Scientific Explanation

There are two scientifically explained theories behind the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Thanks to another handy dandy notebook… tablet, experts have theorized that the destruction was caused by a meteor impact in 3123 BC in Austria. Yes, Austria. Due to the trajectory and size of the asteroid, it is theorized that a mushroom cloud of fire would have covered Levant, Sinai, and Northern Egypt. Since the cloud was super-heated, it is possible that the ground underneath was set on fire.

Another theory theorizes that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed when the Earth passed through a cloud of meteors. It is estimated the Earth passes through a meteor storm every 2,500 years or so. The last two would have been in 2200-2000 BC and 400-600 AD. The timeline and the fact that, yes, several ancient cities were destroyed around this time leads some to believe this serves as the inspiration of Sodom and Gomorrah’s tale.

4. The Apocalypse


Biblical Story

The Apocalypse is the tale and warning to nonbelievers that they will be judged when Jesus comes back. Jesus is supposed to open a book of seals. Each seal brings about a judgment. Then the seventh seal brings seven angels with seven trumpets with more judgments. When they blow the sixth trumpet, one-third of the global population will be killed. The catch is the one-third are the lucky ones. The rest on Earth are the ones who don’t believe.

So, seven more angels bring seven bowls of plagues to Earth. Mankind gets pissed and blasphemes God. Then, the antichrist and the false prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire. One thousand years later, Satan gets thrown into the Lake of Fire too.

Afterward, there is a new heaven and a new Earth, and everybody is happy. The End.

Scientific Explanation

K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid.

Easy peasy lemon greasy. The Apocalypse is the result of giving some guy whose done mushrooms something to write with. Basically, an acid, shroom (whatever poison is your choice) trip is the basis of the story of the Apocalypse.

Since scientists have found links between religious experiences and the use of psychedelic drugs it seems pretty logical.

5. Cain And Abel


Biblical Story

The two sons of Adam and Eve both decide to offer a sacrifice to God. God likes Abel’s sacrifice better than Cain’s sacrifice. So Cain gets pissed and kills his brother.

Scientific Explanation

This theory is really interesting and thought-provoking. Some believe that the story of Cain and Abel is a story about the first genocide in human history. Why?

Well, at one point, Neanderthals existed among Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens were gatherers (Cain). Neanderthals were herdsmen (Abel). What if the Biblical tale of Cain and Abel is really the tale of Homo sapiens overtaking the Neanderthals?

Also, due to the finding of a Neanderthal jawbone butchered the way Homo sapiens would butcher deer in the early Stone Age, it has also been theorized that Homo sapiens cannibalized the Neanderthals. Do you think they had fava beans and chianti back then?

6. Egypt’s 10 Plagues


Biblical Story

Remember that Moses guy? Well, before he parted the Red Sea, he brought about the 10 plagues of Egypt because the Pharaoh would not free the Israelites. The ten plagues were as follows:

  • Water turned to blood.
  • Gnats or lice.
  • Flies.
  • Boils.
  • Thunder and hail.
  • Locusts.
  • Darkness.
  • Death of the firstborn.

Scientific Explanation

For some reason, I find this hilarious. Scientists believe the plagues were caused by climate change and environmental disasters happening around the area.

After determining the weather pattern, they found that the reign of Ramses was during a warm, wet climate. However, there was a switch to a dry period. So everybody was happy and doing well during Ramses reign until the climate change came about. Due to the dry period and rising temperatures, the Nile would have dried up and turned into stagnant muddy slow-moving water. This would have made the perfect conditions for the growth of a toxic fresh water algae called Burgundy Blood algae. Guess what it does when it dies. It turns the water red.

Due to the algae bloom, frogs would be forced to move to dry land. Because they were under stress, the tadpoles would have grown quickly because their hormones speed up their development when under stress.

Because the frogs were displaced and then died off quickly, mosquitoes, flies, and other nasty bugs would have flourished. Now, we all know what comes with mosquitoes, flies, and other nasty creepy crawlies. The livestock would then become diseased and have boils. Think about what bot flies do. They deposit eggs on a warm mammal. The heat causes the egg to hatch. The fly burrows into the skin and causes lesions which can then become infected causing an animal to die within 3 to 11 months. Since humans are also warm mammals, this infestation by the parasitic larvae is possible.

Also tagging along with the insects would be diseases like malaria that could cause epidemics. Therefore, humans would become sick.

Due to the volcanic eruption of Thera in the Mediterranean islands of Santorini, volcanic ash could have been the reason for hail storms over Egypt as it mixed with thunderstorms above. The ash would have also caused the locusts because of higher humidity and higher precipitations. Also, the volcanic ash could have blocked out sunlight. Since scientists have also found pumice stones in Egypt traced back to the Santorini volcano, there is physical evidence that the fallout did reach Egypt.

As for the last plague (death of the firstborn), scientists have theorized it could have been caused by a fungus poisoning the grain supplies of which the first male born would have received first.

7. The Garden Of Eden


Biblical Story

God created Earth in seven days. He created man (Adam). Then man was lonely. So, God created woman (Eve). So then, Eve, being an evil and morally inferior being, was convinced by the serpent to eat from the forbidden tree of wisdom. Then she convinced Adam to eat from the one damn tree they weren’t allowed to eat from. Once they ate from it, they gained wisdom and became hipsters. God got mad and kicked them out of the Garden of Eden.

Scientific Explanation

Our ancestors were originally hunter-gatherers constantly moving from place to place. During the Neolithic Revolution, our ancestors began farming in one spot which then lead to the “creation of society, cities, civilization, and eventually the modern world.” That would all be gravy and biscuits; however, farming brought on the growth of the population, protein and vitamin deficiency, new diseases, and deforestation. According to the Economist article, we shrunk six inches and agriculture was actually the “worst mistake in the history of the human race.” On top of this, the act of hunting and gathering was much easier than working a field trying to make a crop grow. The diseases the farmer acquired included “measles from cattle, flu from ducks, plague from rats, and worms from using their own excrement as fertilizer.”

With all this said, some believe the story of the Garden of Eden is actually an imprinted memory upon humans that is retold as a metaphorical tale to describe the evolution from hunting and gathering to farming.

8. Noah’s Ark And The Great Flood



Biblical Story

God was unhappy with the corruption of man. He found one good man called Noah and wanted to save him and his family to repopulate the world. So, he commanded Noah to build a huge boat, take two of every animal, and board the boat with them to survive a great flood of 40 days.

Scientific Explanation

It is generally accepted that at one point in history, the world was covered in a layer of ice, and there was an Ice Age. However, one day temperatures began to rise. The ice began to melt and rush toward the world’s oceans according to Robert Ballard. According to some, there was a great flood in the Black Sea region. Water from the Mediterranean Sea flooded and destroyed everything. Scientists have found an ancient shoreline 400 feet below the surface of the Black Sea. Carbon dating of seashells along this shoreline show that the flood was around 5,000 BC. People in this area would have definitely felt that this was some sort of judgment by God’s hand. So, some believe that the story of Noah and The Ark is really an oral history of the Black Sea region which eventually became the story of Noah.

9.Moses’ Burning Bush


Biblical Story

Before Moses became the Old Testament superstar that he was, he was tending a flock of sheep. When he came upon a bush, an angel appeared to him in the flames of a fire burning the bush. However, the bush did not turn to ash. God then lets Moses know he’s his man and God commands him to free the Israelites from Egypt.

Scientific Explanation

Physicist Colin Humphreys from Cambridge University has theorized that the burning bush was not created by God or an angel, but was merely an acacia bush that grew over a volcanic vent that spontaneously burst into flames. Acacia bushes make really good charcoal, so it is feasible for the bush to appear as if it was on fire but not burn up.

10. Jesus Walked On Water


Biblical Story

I’m sure all people, despite personal beliefs, can tell you about Jesus walking on water. It’s a major story. Jesus sends his disciples out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a huge storm hits. At dawn, Jesus walked on the water out to the disciples in the storm. Peter (one of the disciples) asks to walk out to Jesus. Peter walks out until he loses faith and becomes fearful. He then sinks and Jesus saves him.

Scientific Explanation

According to US and Israeli scientists, a cold spell covered parts of a lake with ice, and that could be the basis of the Jesus walking on water story. To create the appearance that Jesus walked upon water, a phenomenon called “springs ice” would be the culprit. Springs ice is formed when “warm, salty springs flow into freshwater lakes and prevents the lake from freezing entirely.” Basically, Jesus had a small platform of ice he could walk upon while the disciples were still floating in water.