back to article Moses' parting of the Red Sea: New sim explains whole thing

Computer-modelling scientists say that there may be a factual basis for the passage in the Bible where God parts the Red Sea in order to allow through Moses and the Israelites and then allows the waters back again to drown the pursuing forces of Pharaoh. According to top boffins based at the US National Centre for …

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  1. jake Silver badge

    This old saw?

    I think I first heard this particular proposal in the late 1960s or early '70s ... Regardless, it ranks right up there with proposing likely "real life" scenarios for Jack's beanstalk & Alice's rabbit hole.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Why this method?

      If God wanted them across, he could have done ANYTHING to get them across. Surely the most efficient manner would be to just have them find themselves on the other side. No walking required. Maybe include some free risen bread as a thoughtful bonus. Maybe a fish too. Esp as making extra bread and fish was a speciality of the Lord.

      Why waste time with 12h+ of winds and then keeping an eye on them for their crossing and then taking out the opposition in such a haphazard manner when, if magic and divine power were in play, it could all happen in an instant and the Lord could be on to his next good work in time for a divine breakfast!

      If YOU were God, you would get this little job done a whole lot faster!

      So who really believes this is the best a "real" God could do...

      Roll on the argument of the mysterious ways from Religious Apologetics 1:0:1.

      And then, if you think He spent this time on protection from the Egyptians. Where was He in 1939-45!?

      Lunch break?

      That REALLY is mysterious. Must prove He exists. Lol.

  2. PastyFace

    Another Explanation?

    What of the theory that it was a tsunami, the receding waters allowing the Israelites through then the big wave bit swooshing away the Pharaoh baddies?

  3. Andy H

    Sounds plausible

    This seems quite likely, it had probably happened before. Moses had seen it happen and so when the wind got up he decided to leave, knowing what would happen.

  4. Big Al
    Troll

    Er, so...?

    "in fact the Israelites were not the favoured of God - just really, really lucky with the weather."

    Miraculously so, perhaps?

    1. Gav Silver badge
      Boffin

      Miraculously small

      "for those disinclined to believe in divine aid but inclined to take the Old Testament as an accurate record,"

      Just how big a cross-section of people are we talking about here??

  5. The BigYin
    Troll

    So...

    ...science proves that the Bible is true?

    Next week: Jesus ponies.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (no title)

    Just because something can be calculated to possibly happen, doesn't mean it has. But there again if it did, at just the time it was needed, then wouldn't triggering natural phenomena be just the way a deity might chose to get the job done ?

  7. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    Speaking as a christian...

    ... surely the biggest miracle in this scenario is that several hundred thousand people would be able to walk across a mud-flat in "only" 65 mph winds given that they're "only" the same wind-speeds you'd find in a category 1 hurricane.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coffee/keyboard

      Windbreakers of doom.

      I suspect that they would have had some brightly coloured (amazing technicoloured per chance..) windbreaks with them if they we're at the coast. This may explain how they survived the hurricane like condidtions for the walk

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Um...

      Am I the only one who read this as:

      "Shit, science is agreeing with us, quick, say something contradictory!"

      ?

    3. Roger Varley
      FAIL

      Speaking as a Christain

      Nope sorry - that's a very stiff breeze. You don't even make it to Hurricane Force 1 untill you get wind speeds of 75-95 mph.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge
        Boffin

        To the wiki!

        Roger, though I'm sure relying in wikipedia is seen in the same vein as having a faith around here, I did check before I posted. 65 mph is within the range of a category 1 hurricane for the north atlantic according to the wiki page on the subject. Now maybe they got the table wrong but, nevertheless, "only" 65mph (or 63 - me make typo) is more than a "stiff breeze". It's the sort of wind that pulls trees out of the ground. You'd have trouble walking down the road in it, never mind across a recently exposed mudpit in a river delta, carrying all your wordly posessions while egyptians on chariots chase you.

        And @ac: no, don't be silly. If science could prove a biblical account christians the world over would rejoice in it and call it a new era of understanding as two factions finally find common ground.

        Actually science and faith don't have to be opposed to each other. All the greatest scientists of the past were deists at the very least, an usually quite prominent in their particular faith and it's only the whole evolution thing that has really created a problem - but that's due to a historical fluke, of certain people in the generation prior to Darwin time seeing what was then the nascent theory of evolution as a means to abolish all sorts of established social mores, not just limited to faith. Darwin, a christian himself when he began writing the Origin of the Species, was shocked at the ferocity of the rejection of his ideas by the church and gave up his faith, but that rejection came because the church couldn't see past the actions of other, earlier proto-evolutionists who had used the idea of evolution as a weapon to attack the church; christians believed he was going to do the same thing and rejected him outright. Without that, christianity could easily have come to an accommodation with evolutionary theory because, at the base of things, it doesn't actually rule out the existence of God but merely changes and expands our understanding of how stuff happened.

        1. Paul C. Hartley
          Flame

          Just a point of note...

          has nobody noticed that regardless of how strong the wind was blowing, it was traveling in the same direction that they were traveling so they would not be fighting against it or trying to keep upright. It would be at their backs pushing them forward.

          On the point that science and faith dont have to be opposed to each other then it just depends upon which arguments faith is going to conceed.

          Faith says flood - science says no flood

          Faith says world 6000yrs old - science says 4billion yrs

          Faith says world flat - science says spherical

          Faith says sun goes round the earth - science says earth goes round the sun

          Faith says man is created - science says man evolved

          Science can proove all that it contends however the tricky thing about faith, and its very deffinition is that it is something that is believed with the absence of or dispite of any form of evidence.

          All the greatest scientists were not deists by any definition. Quite a lot of them were by todays standards fundimantialists of their particular religion. Edward Jenner, the guy who came up with genetics was a christian monk to give just one example and Newton - the guy with the apple was most definately what we would call a fundimentalist christian.

          The areas that these great scientists are famous for are often quite specific. Take Newton as the example. The major works that he is remembered for were in optics and gravity however the majority of his publications and writings are about the occult and the bible and other batshit insane crap that nobody really wants to remeber him for because it was all twaddle and completely wrong.

          As for evolution, Darwin did NOT come up with evolution. not by a very long stretch of the imagination. The idea had been around since the ancient greeks and it was very popular long before Darwin ever set foot on the Beagle. What Darwin did was come up with the key. The one thing that allowed evolution to happen without divine intervention and that was natural selection.

          It is for this reason that we refer to his theory as Darwinian evolution or evolution by means of natural selection.

          The reaction was quite muted and unassumed when darwin first published his theory. It was only when he published Origins that the shit hit the fan because it was more widely available to read and it was probably the first tme that people not familiar with science had heard of the concept of evolution and so he is eroniously credited with it especially when they didnt read the book but were told what was in it by someone else as is so often the case.

          Christianity can not reconcile withe evolution especially fundimental christianity. If man was not created in the garden of eden and Adam did not sin by eating the apple there is nothing for Jesus to be crucified for as a means of paying the price for that original sin and so his death was meaningless and not a sacrifice, doubly so if jesus already knew that he would rise from the dead a couple of days later his wounds healed but most of all alive.

          Its like giving someone your last rolo, making them feel guilty about it, but knowing full well that its not really your last rolo because you have another packet that they dont know about

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Christianity doesn't have any problem with Evolution

          Some crackpots who call themselves Christians (while rejecting many of the values that made Christ appealing) reject Evolution, but as far as I'm aware, neither the Catholic Church or the Anglican Churches have any problem with evolution.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Paris Hilton

          Accommodating truth.

          "Darwin....earlier proto-evolutionists ... had used the idea of evolution as a weapon to attack the church; christians believed he was going to do the same thing and rejected him outright. Without that, christianity could easily have come to an accommodation with evolutionary theory..."

          Accommodating the truth?

          That would be generous!

          But, when a business model is founded on shall we say myth, truth cannot suit that model.

          It will be resisted.

          Religion has persistently resisted science and other advances in human knowledge and expression including art and music. The Catholics even fought against polyphony!

          Obviously denying Galileo and Darwin etc was much more serious, but consider how your MP3 collection might sound...

          And then there was interference in art and the counter-reformation.

          It`s all a bit much. Hard to see them changing now. They must believe this is the only effective strategy or they wouldn`t have stuck to it for so many centuries.

          They are now painted into a corner. They cannot just say - OK it mostly just stories - now.

          Esp when so many people have died. Often good people. Often in horrible circs.

          Might be hard to retain tax-exempt status if it transpired that it was just a business like any other. Well, maybe with higher aspirations or more aggressive marketing.

          I am sure other comps - from M$ to Facebook intend to change the world too though!

          They have not burned anyone yet. Well, not literally anyway! Lol.

          And you do not have to go through any rituals to join facebook. Other than the ritual rejection of privacy and common sense.

    4. Chris 2

      rungishd fhdiah

      My thoughts exactly.

    5. Sir Sham Cad

      Scenario

      OK, let's play this game. Let's assume that the action played out as laid down in Exodus and wasn't actually an allegory written up many hundreds of years later with prior knowledge of a similar, witnessed, meteorological event. Or just plain made up "Dad? Why is the sky blue?" "Erm.. God made it that way." "Oh, teacher told me it was due to the nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere." "Er... Shut up and colour in your picture of Jesus."

      Let's assume Moses and the Israelites actually did walk across a temporary land bridge (possibly caused by the same effect modelled in this article, or maybe the divine creator of the entire universe fancied showing off to a few humans).

      Dude, they're being chased by Pharaoh's frickin' Host, probably with frickin' laser beams on their heads! Pharaoh has not sent all his elite troops after Moses and his chums on the lam to have tea and biscuits with them. 65 MPH winds and a shonky mud flat are the least of their troubles at this point. People go out gathering shellfish in worse for a few quid. these guys were legging it from a sharp and pointy death, if they were lucky! I know which I'd take my chances with.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Dead Vulture

      Hurricane

      65mph is not hurricane strength. And is no prob to walk in - esp if your life depended on it. Unless you are 2-dimensional. And some would content that this may be the case.

      But as a Christian (fellow bible consumer- and separately also intriguingly in the mistaken about figures camp), why are you undermining an argument that lends credence...

      Surely this explanation is as close to a gift from God that has been seen in about 2010years (or 6000, 4.5Bn, or 13.75Bn - whatever we are currenly going with as the time frame since temporary divine manipulation of physics).

      It is interesting though cos usually religion moves to fit w science* not the other way around.

      *Whenever the game is up on another myth.

      I am not sure that the explanation is reasonable. As if this penomenon happened every time there was a strong east wind for half a day, in the space of a few thousand years, others would have seen it whilst they were not being chased by 600 chariots and without them waiving their hands causing them to say something along the lines of: Hold on! The wind just blew the water away!

      And 6 feet of water is not going to kill every man and every horse of an entire army - even if it came back like a 'tidal bore', or a tsunami. 600 chariots would not be all stacked on top of each other at the same point in space, and if they were, and able to balance that well, then a lot of them would be high and dry anyway.

      Horses can swim fine and most could keep their nose above the surface of water 6 feet deep.

      Has anyone done any metal detecting in the area? There would surely be some bits of 600 chariots, weapons, armour, jewellery, tack etc etc left at the location stuck in the mud. The Egyptians loved a bit of gold. Some must still be around. I heard it sinks due to being denser than water - whatever that witchcraft means. Things like swords would sink immediately even in a powerful current. Even if the blades later corroded, parts of the hilts, scabbards etc would survive.

      I wonder what Galileo would make of all this. I imagine he would be pleased to see the progress science has made. Perhaps equally pleased to see the progress religion has made. Tic.

      1. Lucas 1
        Thumb Up

        Actually, there has been research showing Chariot wheels

        There was a fascinating video made by the Discovery Channel some years back by an archeologist who, without permission, dived on what he felt was the site of the Exodus crossing in the Red Sea. What he found was really quite stunning, though the Egyptian government would not allow any artifacts to be moved. Here's one part of that show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLLhB-LLMGA

        1. Anonymous Coward
          WTF?

          Damning

          Well if your guy dived in the Red Sea and found the site (and I'm not going to watch anything on YT as evidence), then not only does it directly contradict this new theory that says the crossing must have happened somewhere else; but it begs the Q how come these monkeys did not know about it or just go and pick up some chariot wheels themselves.

          The first guy prob just made up a pile of BS to get attention and then so did the next lot.

          I believe they (nutters) also find Noah's Ark every other year dont they?

          And a brief flood thousands of meters deep is entirely plausible!

          Even though there is not enough water on earth...

          Maybe Mar's water got intelligent, flew to earth, caused a flood deep enough to land a boatload of all the animals that had not been discovered yet on top of a freakin mountain, and then buggered off again!

    7. FreeTard

      Hardly a miracle mate

      Walking is easy, we used to go skating whenever the stoms brewed up when we were nippers.

      Great craic altogether.

    8. Retired Geek
      Happy

      Cat 1? Piece of cake!

      Really, here in Key West we go out in Cat 1 hurricanes all the time; it's not significantly worse than a tropical storm and the tourists are off to the mainland.

      It takes time for wind to push water out of the way. We lived on a bay that was blown dry by Hurricane Georges and if you've seen it happen, it's no big trick to figure it will happen again.

      If you're a slave and your leader says, "We leave for freedom, tomorrow!", a little wind won't stop you. It would also explain the hurry that justifies Matzoh, the bread they could not let take time to rise.

    9. amehaye

      Re: @Graham

      The wind died when they passed. No wind, no problem to pass. It takes a while for the water to come back, right in time to flush the pursuing army.

      I still don't think that this actually happened, but it is a nice theory non the less.

    10. dylan 4
      FAIL

      wind was theoretically at their backs

      With the wind at your back like in this scenario, a 65MPH gale would help rather than hinder.

      Still don't believe it happened;-P

  8. jai

    first Stephen Hawking and now this

    it's a big one-two attack from Science. first Stephen Hawkin kicks God off the Big Bang credits list and now God's pushed back on the ropes as it turns out he wasn't necessary for one of the big action show pieces of the old testament.

    any truth in the rumours that the fight's a fix and God is going to go down in the forth round?

    1. fatchap

      It is a fix!

      These are just a couple of no balls being bowled by God to help out some Far Eastern chums. He will come back and win the series don't you worry!

  9. Ivor 1
    FAIL

    Oh that's just super-rigorous innit

    Amazing how strict the scientific community can be when pressing for proof of God but so lax with their own debunking. Either the Old Testament story is a crock, or it was a divine event - what it was NOT was " rather a lucky break". Claiming that the waters may have been parted by a freak wind event is so mental I don't know where to start. Did Moses have advanced weather forecasting skills and realise such a freak wind event was in the offing and think "That's handy, being as we're being pursued by enemy forces and all - we'll just whip across the river bed and hope the wind dies down only once we are across but the enemy is still crossing?" That level of prescience would be pretty crazy on its own, and his willingness to risk his life and the lives of his people is rather a bold move? Finally, even if it was a "lucky break", just how lucky we talking? Surely we are looking at an event that ranks in the order of millions-to-1 odds? But that's scientific enough to be considered an acceptably rigorous explanation is it? Every time I look round it seems science is becoming more and more like a cult, with Richard Dawkins as the high priest. By all means have faith, but don't masquerade as science while you do.

    RANT OVER.

    1. Cameron Colley

      What the hell are you on about?

      Some scientists put forth a mechanism which could explain, requiring some luck, how a legendary event took place. Do you have a problem when some scientists suggest that fire-breathing dragon legends could be explained by burping animals with flint in their stomachs to aid digestion?

      I don't think anyone has said "right, that's it, we now know how it the parting happened, end of story." -- people are just doing some research to see what could have happened, or not. If more and more evidence were to come to light suggesting that this happened it may become an accepted scientific theory, right until someone finds something to disprove it.

      That's the thing with science, things are not accepted until lots of evidence has mounted up and even then, as with man-made climate change, they may not be accepted by all and opinion may swing another way.

      Oh, and: science!=atheism

      1. Ivor 1

        Eh?

        So with science "things are not accepted until lots of evidence has mounted up.."?

        Yet science = atheism?

        But my understanding is that atheism is a belief that there is NO God.

        Which unless you have scientific proof that God DOESN'T exist seems to itself be a statement of faith?

        Did you mean science=agnosticism?

        1. Cameron Colley

          @Ivor 1

          Apologies, I was using the symbol for not equal to.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: science!=atheism

        I really have a problem with being classed as an atheist, i.e. someone w/o theism. Well in my world theism has no significance (other than the fact that they keep trying to influence my world w. it) and in my world I consider myself a rational person (Rationalist?) so I could, in theory, class all religious types as " irrational ". They can try to rationalize their beliefs with whatever strategies but the facts still remain the same

        I would state science!=rational

        and the logical consequence of that is:

        religion=irrational

        Can't there be a law to prevent theists from indoctrinating and brainwashing the children of this world, Mike later on down this list) has a point with his comment:

        " Other deities may (or may not) exist. Your belief structure may be incompatible with the known structure of reality. Please do not attempt to install faith in small children. Your faith is a personal matter and should not be imposed on others. Belief in God 2.0 or any other competing product is not essential in order to be a decent human being. "

        We should be stigmatizing religion and forcing it to the privacy of their own home in exactly the same way that theists stigmatize sex and force their moral values on the rest of the world.

        In this day and age the human race should be getting over this historical "Male only Club", stop supporting this fallacy and moving on to live their one and only life in peace with each other, free from religious dogmas and fear of damnation.

    2. Sir Sham Cad

      At risk of repeating myself

      >>That level of prescience would be pretty crazy on its own, and his willingness to risk his life and the lives of his people is rather a bold move? <<

      His life and the lives of his people were forfeit anyway (assuming we consider the story as true).

      A 65mph easterly is not such a freak occurrence that nobody would have seen it before, or have at least heard of the phenomena.

      Also you seem to have utterly and wilfully misunderstood the reason for this computer model. It's not been done to bash religionists or even to make any claim whatsoever for the truthfulness or otherwise of the Bible. It is simply an exercise in weather modelling to see if it is possible to create the effect described in Exodus with natural phenomena. The maths says it is. Good. Nothing has been debunked by this.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speaking as a non-idiot...

    Which is more likely - that events in a several thousand year-old book of transcribed oral tales from the middle east occurred as described due to a combination of factors each incredibly unlikely - or - that events in Exodus, like most folk stories passed down by people throughout history, didn't actually happen? Even in a world where facts can be confirmed or denied by a Google search, people regularly fabricate and spread lies and urban legends. How could this be less prevalent then?

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Two things....

      Most myth has a grain of truth in it somewhere.

      The epic of Gilgamesh may not be true, but the flood story was inspired by massive flooding on a scale that is extremely rare, but that has been shown to have happened from geographical and archeological evidence. There are even those who suggest that the Noah story was founded on the same floods, perhaps even as a corruption of the same story as Gilgamesh.

      Therefore finding the mechanism described in the Bible -- a wind that parts the waters across a hidden land-bridge -- does not say that Moses crossed the landbridge. It merely says that someone may have at one time witnessed the phenomenon, and it may have later become incorporated into myth (a theory which could be corroborated by finding Egyptian, Palestinian or Jordanian folk tales incorporating a similar parting-of-the-waters scenario).

      Finding a natural mechanism in the physical world that can do what the Bible does not prove that the Exodus (which is a recognised historical event) happened as described in the Bible. And neither does it prove that if it did happen, [g|G]od was not involved. Because as others have said, to be that lucky would be downright miraculous.

      But even though it proves nothing, it's still a valid piece of research.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: speaking as a non-idots

      surely a bridge, which was biblical set alight/destroyed by some sneaky ne'er do wells is an awful lot more probable, Chinese whispers could have warped this story beyond any reasonable explanation. Or, there is the possibility "Tales of The Sky Fairy (and Friends)" is a work of pure fiction, with a rabid fanbase who believe it to be the truth and speak to them (much like Twilight and it's fans...)

    3. Ivor 1

      I think you spoke too soon

      You assume the world is the way you think it is before examing the problem, rather than examining the problem from both your view and the opposing view.

      If there is no God then you are correct - it's just a bunch of fairy tales.

      If there IS a God then keeping a bunch of scribes from making up bits as they went along should be well within his abilities?

      1. Liam Johnson

        Which begs the question..

        Why didn't he bother while they were writing the bible???

        Or did god really decide to go from smiting, eye-for-an-eye, pillars of fire stuff and get in touch with his feminine side over a few thousand years?

  11. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    FAIL

    OK...

    I get the bit where science might try to explain how this might happen.

    Lets just not lose sight of the fact that the Bible is a work of fiction and no different in proveable truth than either The Lord of the Rings or the Arabian knights.

    1. The old man from scene 24

      "the fact that the Bible is a work of fiction"?

      Is that a "fact" like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden is a "fact"? And do you mean that all 66 books of the Bible written at different times by different people with different world-views and different intentions, some of them explicitly claiming to be historical truth are fiction, or just some bits? I know people argue that Jonah, or Job for example, are historical fiction but would you claim that the bits attested to by archaeology (like Pontius Pilate, to pick a random example) are fiction? And what do you mean by "fiction", anyway? If a story demonstrates a true principle or moral, but isn't actually a historical record is it fact or fiction?

      Just asking.

  12. Jad

    Red sea ...

    Not that anyone cares, but "Red sea" was a bad translation/spelling mistake of "reed sea", many years ago, which is a lot flatter and basically full of reeds ...

    look on a map and you'll find it as well.

    In fact modern Bibles use the "reed sea" translation after it's discovery in the original untranslated scripts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Stinking REEEEDS?!

      I hope I am just slow to get the joke.

      But, I am pretty sure that no divine assistance would be required to part reeds. Unless you are calling the Isrealites stupid.

      Do you hope to kick of the 'How many Isreallites does it take to cross a reed bed?' jokes or something. Well do ya punk?

      I am equally sure that if peasants can do it, then a following army can do it too.

      I have not heard many instances of other armies being to a man - neigh - to a horse (pun intended) wiped out by reeds.

      I will personally fight any army that is vulnerable to complete annihilation in one afternoon by tall grass.

      And if you had ever seen a reed, you would know it is a plant and that they have roots. Wind will not get them out of your way.

      But, a hand, knife, stick or fire will.

      The reed theory would be an even more fantastic explanation that either the bible version as is, or this odd new psuedo scientific intentionally controversial attempt to rekindle waning interest.

      Anyway, have a good laugh at getting me to bite.

    2. Joe Zeff
      Headmaster

      @Jad

      "In fact modern Bibles use the "reed sea" translation after it's discovery in the original untranslated scripts."

      I don't think so. The "original untranslated scripts" are called the Torah, and have been copied, exactly, for hundreds of generations by scribes, who have been very careful not to change even a single character as the book itself is Holy. Here's how a Jewish Bible translates Exodus, 13:18:

      But God led the people about, by the way of the wilderness by the Red Sea; and the children of Israel went up armed out of the land of Egypt.

  13. adnim
    Joke

    Serious offence,

    "And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen ..."

    is incitement to mass murder. Can we start a class action?

    Slightly more seriously though:

    Why did our lord god make moses a murderer?

    Why was our lord god such a wimp that he couldn't do it himself?

    What moral conflicts arise in the hearts of those with faith when such actions contradict accepted doctrine?

    And why do "aggressive secularists" seek to undermine the rock solid and infallible source of our faith with all this science mumbojumbo?

    1. Mike Richards

      Class action

      @ adnim

      "And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen ..."

      is incitement to mass murder. Can we start a class action?

      Only in certain jurisdictions. Jehovah 1.0 (previously sold as YHWH widely marketed under the Old Testament brand) was replaced with the all-new God 2.0 after market research demonstrated reluctance to adhere to the 113 conditions of sale (afterwards known as the Commandments) of the original.

      God 2.0 is available in most of Western Europe, Africa, South America and especially in the United States. Users of God 2.0 should pay particular attention to the New Covenant clause invalidating controversial user functionality (including 'smiting', 'plague' and 'brimstone) found in Jehovah 1.0. The books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy have been superseded by a simplified 'don't be a fuckwit' obligation and should be disposed of in an appropriate manner.

      Small print.

      Other deities may (or may not) exist. Your belief structure may be incompatible with the known structure of reality. Please do not attempt to install faith in small children. Your faith is a personal matter and should not be imposed on others. Belief in God 2.0 or any other competing product is not essential in order to be a decent human being.

      1. Rombizio
        Thumb Up

        Best post ever

        I vote this for 2010 Post of the Year on El Reg.

      2. adnim

        Typical

        They capture a market, get the consumer hooked on the product and then change the T&C's.

        btw nice post Mike.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Beans Beans Heinz

    I think my explanation that Moses had a few beans for tea the night before is much better. Bit of waftage from his dressing gown could have done wonders to the parting of the seas.

  15. EddieD

    Miracles == very, very lucky

    One of the gotchas that seasoned god-botherers always trot out is that believing in god is of necessity an act of faith, and any "proof" will erode faith (c.f. the babel fish argument) and therefore any miracle /must/ be able to be explained as a natural occurence, for who is it that makes natural occurences occur, at the right time, so that you know that you are beloved of the heavenly host, none other than Jehovah, Yahweh or any other name you wish to give to which ever mythical entity gives you the ability to get through this vale of tears.

    Of course, when I speak to my invisible friend (and he answers) - I get prescribed diphenhydramine, and have all sharp objects taken off me. TANJ.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      You hear voices when your hayfever is acting up? In fact taking anti-histamines often makes the voices worse, so lay of them and take your lithium...

  16. Number6

    Had it not been windy...

    Had it not been windy, they'd have been stuck, caught between the water and the Pharaoh's forces. That could have have meant no Jews, no Christians and no Muslims.

    As for attempting to cross a mudflat in high wind, if it was a choice between that or being chopped to bits by a bunch of angry Egyptians, I know which I'd choose.

    @jai - perhaps breaking wind to save the Israelites was God's answer to the Big Bang.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well

      Assuming it was true...it could have meant...er...something.

      Suggesting that God's answer to the big bang was a wet fart is a little OTT imo.

      But I agree history tells us that Egyptian choppers were gnarly. So if you had an army of Egyptians chasing you, choppers in fists, then you had better run or you may indeed find yourself producing farts with the power to submerge a thousand horses for a v long time.

  17. Doc Spock
    Boffin

    Science vs Religion

    This is what I like about science: its modus operandi is to attempt to explain how things work within the limits of our current knowledge, and to expand that knowledge. The mistake that anti-science people make is that they think science is about determining set-in-stone-forever-more facts. It's not. Any existing hypothesis (commonly referred to as "scientific fact") may be invalidated upon the discovery of conflicting evidence. Now, for a lot of hypotheses, there is a huge body of experimental evidence backing up the idea (e.g., the Earth going round the Sun) and the likelihood of such hypotheses being invalidated are extremely small. However, science will not attempt to avoid or cover-up any rigourous evidence which would invalidate such ideas.

    Now consider religion (Christianity in this example).

    Everything was set in stone just over 2000 years ago (if you ignore the many re-writes of the Bible and the fact it was generally created from second- or third-hand accounts of events at best, and fanciful stories at worst). Then, if something in the Bible is potentially contradicted by scientific experiment, "believers" stick their fingers in their ears, run round in circles and continually sing "la la la la" until it's time to go to church.

    Now, my issue is not that I think science is the greatest thing ever, or that religion is stupid, but that science continually evolves and adapts and is not afraid to modify the current set of "accepted facts" whereas religion is all about resolutely sticking to the beliefs and writings of a few blokes two millennia ago.

    1. Steven Knox
      Headmaster

      Or, to simplify:

      Science does very well at explaining HOW things happen. Religion's purpose is to explain WHY things happen.

      The only time that the two are in conflict is when a proponent (or detractor) of one presumes the role of the other. For example, evolution is a "how" not a "why" question, so religious objection to it is pointless. On the other hand, regardless of Mr Hawking's opinion, scientific research is simply not capable of answering the "why" question -- it can explain how the big bang got started, how it resulted in the physics we know today, but their best answer to "why" consistently comes down to random chance -- which is no answer. "Luck" or "chance" is simply human shorthand for variables beyond our ken.

      In this article, we have science explaining one way a religious tale may have some truth to it -- but that same science cannot pin down the why. The religious tale, on the other hand, provides one answer to the why, but is sketchy on the how.

      1. Liam Johnson

        Why is the sky blue

        The separation of how and why in contrived.

        Why did the waters part? God wills it.

        Why did the waters part? A strong wind.

        Why did the wind blow? God wills it?

        Why did the wind blow? A storm was building over the Atlantic and moving east.

        Why did the storm form? God wills it?

        Why did the storm form? El Nino was prominent in 2000 BC....

        You can answer all of the why questions with science, if you have the data. You will have to accept, that there is always one more question for which you don't yet have the data to provide an answer. Or you can take the cop out say "god wills it".

        The only problem I have with religious types who claim to be scientists, is this; if they are prepared to accept "god wills it" as the answer to the next question, why didn't they accept it as the simplest answer to the first?

        That is illogical.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        Even more simply

        Science and religion are both artifacts - products of the human mind, with the truth of the former requiring evidence, and the truth of the latter, not.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Coffee/keyboard

    Moving a group...

    ...of half-starved people against a 65mph wind in probably knee-deep mud?

    Shuuuurrrre.

  19. Stevie Silver badge

    As Oolon Coluphid Said:

    Well, that about wraps it up for God.

  20. Mike Richards

    Alternatively

    By a liberal application of Occam's razor it could be explained by (no simulations required)...

    ...being a myth

  21. John E Shuey

    Just One Problem...

    There's a minor problem with this hypothesis... There is no evidence of even the existence of Moses, nor an exodus from Egypt, outside of the Torah. Even official Israeli archaeologists have stated as much. No encampment artifacts anywhere in Sinai, no mention of Israeli slaves anywhere in Egyptian records, much less of a mass exodus, and no mention by any other historian of the time. Ergo no explanation is required for something that never happened.

  22. Lucas 1
    Alert

    Those Israelites are uber-lucky

    First the Red Sea crossing, then they reclaim their country and repel attack after attack over the past 60 years by all their neighboring countries. If it wasn't for all that luck, you'd think they really were the chosen people of God.

  23. Joe Zeff
    Welcome

    I have no problem with a natural explanation

    I'm Jewish, and I have no problem with this natural explanation for the Crossing of the Red Sea. Just because high winds could have cleared a land bridge doesn't mean that The Lord didn't raise the winds at the right time and place, or that He didn't cause them to stop at just the right time to wash away the Egyptians.

    I also see nothing wrong with the possibility that it was the Sea of Reeds, not the Red Sea, because that's not the only bad translation in Exodus: the word we know as "Pharaoh" is pronounced "Paro" in Hebrew, and not because the language doesn't have an F. (It does.)

    Those of us who have no problem believing in both science and religion see this as nothing more than showing how He could have done what was needed.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Was it the same computer model

    as used by CRU by any chance

  25. Chigaimasmaro
    Alert

    I hate when these articles appear

    I take these simulations like a grain of salt just like when they say what our "future" is like. Although its entertaining to see what "could" have happened. Just cause a group makes a computer simulation doesn't mean its correct. I think the debates on the Global warming models is proof enough for that. Since I'm not a christian its hard for me to see how believers in the bible get offended at this, since it does raise more questions than answers as some posts have mentioned.

    I think its a good oddity to explore and if bible's G-d is out there , I could see himself expressing his power in such a way. He wasn't much for face to face conversations.

  26. h 6
    Boffin

    Sea of Reeds

    Red Sea was a mistranslation in the King James version, at least I learned that in my college OT* class.

    The Sea of Reeds was actually a swamp. So, a bunch of people on foot sloughing thru a swam, and then an army of men with armor and horses and chariots.

    Guess which group made it thru the Sea of Reeds?

    *Old Testemant

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    That kind of luck doesn't exist

    Besides, the location is pretty much confirmed by the chariot wheels found decades ago at at the bottom of the Red Sea.

    Anonymous to dodge trolls and others too concerned with screaming that I'm an idiot to bother looking up said archeological find.

  28. Martin Usher
    Happy

    Don't Forget...

    ...that the Israelites lived to tell the tale. This effect may have happened before but if there weren't survivors then the event may as well not have happened.

    Its generally thought that this incident didn't occur on the Red Sea but a Reed Sea, somewhere in the delta of the Nile. Its not got the visual flair of Charlton Heston but it does seem more plausible.

    For the believers its plausible to think that Divine Intervention set the wind up and stopped it at just the right times to enable the passage of the Israelites. Its more in keeping with the behavior of a deity -- don't expend vast amounts of energy pushing back reality, just make a couple of tweaks here and there and let events naturally unfold...

  29. David Pickering
    Thumb Down

    these people

    really should be spending their time on more important questions

  30. Magani
    FAIL

    NRA files objection

    No where in the whole report does it explain Charlton Heston's role in the parting of the waters.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Troll

    re: That kind of luck doesn't exist

    You never spoken to an evolutionist, have you?

  32. John X Public
    Thumb Down

    Yet another plausible scenario

    So what? There are any number of plausible scenarios that can be used to 'explain' the parting of the waters myth. Here's one I just pulled out of my arse:

    Scenario: Huddled Israelite Masses flee to shoreline.

    Assumption 1: Shallowish, but > 6ft deep, body of water with a narrow but firm bar of sand, or whatever, leading from one side to the other.

    Assumption 2: Due to Cosmic Forces Beyond Our Ken, or gravity, an exceptionally low tide occurs exposing parts of this escape route.

    Assumption 3: Israelites get a clue and scarper across the estuary quick smart.

    Assumption 4: Tide comes back before heavily armed Egyptians turn up and so they are unable to find the crossing.

    Assumption 5: Israelite myth makers add a few morale building embellishment about God and some highly satisfying smiting of the bad guys.

    It's a cultural myth, it may be partial or wholly made up or distorted. Until some actual evidence one way or another turns up (the location of the crossing would be a nice first step), speculative and suppositious scenario setting doesn't increase the net amount of information.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Troll

    What a load of bilgewater...

    ... in the comments on this article.

    Anyway, I put my money on Napoleon.

    "On the morning of the 28th we crossed the Red Sea dry shod...Near the port the Red Sea is not above 1,500 meters wide, and is always fordable at low water...at high tide the water rises five or six feet at Suez, and when the wind blows fresh it often rises nine or ten feet."

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Faith 2.0 or 4.0?

    That should actually read faith 4.0. The original version dates from the darkness of history, possibly around 3000BC, and is just as dark. The version published by Mose, and summarised in the well-known ten bullet points, is most probably from around 1300BC. It was later modified in the so-called second issue of law - the Deuteronomium - which significantly modifies many of the laws about daily life. Some passages sound almost modern. The smart guy from Kanaan then just added an interpretation - things like I won't condemn if you don't, to try and adapt to his time - by allowing people some slack in the application of the code. We see a progressively more liberal law here, traditionalists take note!

    Even so, it's probably been time for about 1000 years or thereabouts to release issue 5.0...

  35. Simon Wilson 1
    Thumb Down

    Scientist are really Thick....

    The Register needs to posts an article ask the question. Not is there a GOD (pslam 83:18), thats obvious..there is. So that is sorted...

    The question are scientists are the really clever, I mean to spend billions on finding Black matter or wasting money on how the parting of the red sea was done ..Or Mr bitter Hawkins claiming that isnt a GOD, but there was some thing else...blah blah blah blah.

    The Register needs to put it to Vote Seriously are Scientists Clever or Not . Its bit like saying are policitans corrupt or heavenly people.... ,

    On a Serious note...Wheres the cure for Cancer (its always years away), wheres the cure for world peace (man cant sort that out), wheres the cure Aids, ifs Scientists are soooo clever, how comes that figure out the basics....The common cold or the Flu....

    Register seriously get a vote sorted....who know maybe the BBC or ABC might put on the TV.

    1. Liam Johnson
      Coffee/keyboard

      You owe me a new keyboard

      You have dribbled all over this one.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet another explaation

    For a well researched explanation of the Chaldean saga, read "The Great Lie". A book explaining Jewish history can be found on Amazon and other book sellers.

  37. Maryland, USA
    Thumb Down

    But according to Jewish tradition, there were 12 splits

    According to Jewish oral tradition (Midrash), the river split in 12 tunnels--one for each tribe. There were other features that the simulation would not account for. For details, Google ""further thoughts on beshalach".

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Maybe, but

    This particular explanation leaves unexplained why the wise Moses would ever have led his people into such a blind-alley (onto a peninsula in the marshy lands) in the first place. That is, wanting to take his best shot at getting his people away from the notoriously fickle Egyptians, a wise leader would have wanted to put as much distance between himself and them as soon as possible. Why would he want to go slogging around through the marshy reed-lands of the north-eastern delta? A slightly more inland route would have carried them further faster, if hugging the Med coastline was their plan and, if they had guides to the desert of the Sinai, then a lot farther inland would have been a lot faster.

    Further, that he would have happened to have led them there just at the moment that an unusually strong easterly happened to arise is even more implausible. Now, unless God gave him a road-map AND time-table in advance - not alluded to in the scriptures - it was a pretty stupid thing to do and, if this route is correct, then such parting of the waters at this particular moment, would have been of extremely low probability.

    Of course, those are not questions for those of faith, as God is their answer to everything, but for those of us who seek reasonable answers to reasonable questions, all the details should make sense.

  39. chris 130
    Grenade

    Of course, all miracles have an explanation

    Burning bush, tar deposit and a spark

    The ark - a localised flood

    Visions of virgins in Caves (RC) - hypothermia induced hallucinations

    Virgin Birth - come on, Joseph was a crafty wall climber - story so common in history its legend

    Fishes and bread - the crowd had brought their own and passed them back.

    Risen at Easter - he wasn't dead yet, crucifixation doesn't kill, exposure does

    Any other explanations, submit request in writing.

    NOTE, bet editors too scared to publish this.

    1. jake Silver badge

      The Bible, when read for content ...

      ... Contains surprises. Most of which the clergy don't want you to grok. For example:

      "Risen at Easter - he wasn't dead yet, crucifixation doesn't kill, exposure does"

      Actually, the Roman variation of crucifixion DOES kill, by asphyxiation.

      If you actually read the gospels for content, you'll discover that Pontius Pilatus didn't want to crucify Jesus. You'll also discover that Jesus was imprisoned with a murderer that Pilatus wanted to put to death. The murderer's name? Barabbas. What does Bar Abba mean in Aramaic? "Son of The Father".

      Now, nobody was allowed to speak the name of God (except the High Priest, on the Day Of Atonement) ... Instead, they called God "The Father" in day-to-day life. So when Pilatus asked both men their names (Roughly, "Are you the Son of the Father?"), they would have replied in the affirmative. Throw into the mix the Essenes, well known for causing mini-riots, chanting "crucify him!" for the OTHER Barabbas, and you have a logical explanation for the "risen from the dead" myth.

      This would also explain why the supposedly "dead" Jesus was seen walking BACK to the tomb by Mary of Magdala ... They had just switched out the real dead body, and Jesus hadn't managed to get back to the tomb fast enough to complete the illusion. Faking the nail & spear & thorn wounds on his hands, side & head would be trivial.

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