Ten Plagues solved, says scientist.

Discussion in 'Non Sci-fi Debates' started by Senmut, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. Senmut

    Senmut America Aeterna!


    From Times Online
    Whatcha all thunks, huh?

    December 14, 2007

    Ten Plagues were just natural imbalances says scientist
    Ruth Gledhill Religion Correspondent of The Times

    The Ten Plagues of Egypt recounted in the Bible and which caused Pharaoh to let the Israelite slaves go free were nothing more than natural “population imbalances” caused by environmental factors, a leading scientist has claimed.

    Professor Roger Wotton, a biologist at University College London, says in the student academic journal Opticon 1826 says the dramatic series of events, that included the Nile turning to blood and a plague of frogs, are explicable as natural phenomena.

    He does not deny that God could have instigated the events - if God does indeed exist. But he concludes: “Perhaps the Ten Plagues teach us that many explanations are possible for one series of events, and warn against allowing belief in the truth of one explanation to inspire fundamentalism.”

    Professor Wotton, who specialises in zoology and aquatic biology, says the plagues, described in the Book of Exodus, were central to the liberation of the Jewish people from the oppression of the Egyptians.

    “The succession of disasters demoralised the Egyptians and were seen as a victory for Jewish monotheistic beliefs,” he argues, going on to propose a series of natural explanations.

    He supports his thesis by using the example such as the explosion in the rabbit population in Australia caused after they were introduced there with no natural predators, and aided by their high rate of reproduction. He also describes the proliferation of ladybirds in parts of Europe in the dry summer of 1976.

    “It was difficult to drive through some parts of Europe without encountering swarms of ladybirds that required windscreen wipers and washers to be operated at maximum,” he says.

    “Tabloid newspapers in the 80s referred to AIDS as the ‘Gay Plague’,” he says. “It is not easy to be rational when faced with a plague and mythical accounts, often focusing on divine retribution and the supernatural, are common.”

    “Myths” arise around natural events when no rational explanation is immediately apparent, he argues. Christians and Jews accept the stories of the Ten Plagues of Egypt.

    The events described in Exodus precipitated the triumph of monotheism over polytheism in the ancient world, and that in turn led to the foundation of Islam.

    Professor Wotton says the plagues probably did happen, but argues they have been “embellished, ordered and described through the lens of religious mythology.”

    The “rivers of blood” could have been caused by heavy rainfall on baked soil, leading to sediment-rich water flowing into the Nile from tributaries where the underlying soil and rocks are red. Egyptians often spoke of the “red lands” surrounding the fertile, “black lands” they occupied. The sediments would also have killed the fish, as described in the Bible, he says.

    The plague of frogs could have been migrating frogs, or the sudden appearance of the froglike Spadefoot toads from hiding places in damp undersoil after a sudden rainfall.

    Similarly, the plague of lice could have been merely the sudden hatching of lice throughout Egypt after rain that followed unusually hot and dry weather.

    The description of swarms of flies match the behaviour of dancing midges, which can sometimes be so dense that livestock have to be taken indoors to avoid asphyxiation, he says. Again, unusual weather conditions could have led them to the Nile.

    An abundance of biting insects would also have led to the “pestilence” that caused the death of the country’s cattle. Similarly, the boils on the human population could have been caused by insect bites.

    The “fiery hail” could have been the large hailstones accompanied by ball lightning that sometimes appears during severe, dramatic storms. The locust swarms would also have been caused by severe environmental conditions, and a dense storm could also have produced the darkening of the skies described in the Bible.

    But Professor Wotton ducks out of explaining the most difficult plague, where God caused the “death of the firstborn”, “Perhaps it relates to some infectious disease, but why the effect on the first born?” he asks.

    He says the chronology as set down in the Bible can be explained by the probable weather conditions but the impact of the plagues upon religious belief was profound.

    “The victory of Jewish monotheism also became the victory of Christian monotheism as the origins of both religious groups are shared,” he said. “Islam then developed from the same roots in the first Millennium and it, too, is strongly monotheistic. It was Islam that resulted in the final overthrow of widespread polytheism in Egypt,” he said.
  2. Mad Luddite

    Mad Luddite Was that an attempt at humor?

    I personally don't even think all that stuff happened to the Egyptians anyhow. When have "successions of disasters" happened like this? It seems far too unlikely.
  3. Eöl

    Eöl FANRAT

    Eh, considering there is no real record of ten plagues in Egypt what-so-ever other than problems with crops and etc.
    Or any large-scale number of Hebrew slaves for that matter, it probably never happened.
  4. Es Arkajae

    Es Arkajae God Emperor of Earth

    How is this 'solving' the ten plagues?:wtf:

    This is akin to "Oh it could have been the reflection of venus off of swamp gas"

    Like really theres no study involved, no research, the only thing this is is some person taking each of the ten plagues, finding something similar from elsewhere and saying "it could have been this" nevermind the odds of all these things happening in succession.

    This is a pure opinion piece, it 'solves' nothing and this persons opinion is worth no more than anyone elses.

    That being said, I don't see any great need God would have to break his own natural laws of the universe if he didn't have to. Who cares about the actual physical process by which the Nile turns red, whether it is actually turned into oxygenated heamoglobin or if it is caused by chemical substances entering the river upstream, the water is still turning red to 'blood' and the intended effect is the same.

    The pillar of fire by night and the pillar of smoke by day, some theorise that this possibly could have been a large volcanic eruption in the Mediterranean. So what?, it came at the right time and place for the Israelites, as did the strange 'tidal conditions' which some believe allowed the Israelis to cross a large body of water. Perhaps the miracle was more in the timing than the physics.

    Reminds me of the joke with the man in the flooding house rejecting rescue offers on four occasions from three rescue boats and a helicopter declaring each time "Don't worry, God will save me!". Upon drowning and getting to heaven he asks God in confusion "Why didn't you save me?", God replies "You idiot, I sent you three rescue boats and a helicopter, what else did you want?"
  5. Xort

    Xort Mahō Shōjo

    Gota bug up your ass Es?

    The guy right or wrong offers explainations of what might have caused the alleged events. Bitch at Senmut for a sensationalist title. Not the guy writing the report.
  6. Nonoxynol9

    Nonoxynol9 Stop Breeding, Please

    I agree 100% with everything Es just said, up to the "God will save me!" joke. It's the only joke I know appropriate for church.
  7. Malaskor

    Malaskor Knight Querist

    I heard an alternative explanation for the Nile running red - a kind of red algae.
  8. Rye

    Rye Todos Somos Humanos

    The solution of the ten plagues is pretty simple: it's a myth. There's no evidence Moses was even real, and the Exodus almost certainly never happened. Also, the Jews had to be reminded at Sinai to not be polytheistic, so how this was "a victory for monotheistic belief" is anyone's guess. What a load of tosh.
  9. Es Arkajae

    Es Arkajae God Emperor of Earth

    I don't recall bitching at anyone in this thread Xort.

    I asked a question and then pointed out what the article actually was. But hey don't let that stop you jumping to conclusions.
  10. Bryan

    Bryan <font color=yellow>The Great Goof!</font>

    While the explanations are interesting for the plagues the explanation just seems like a convenient bunch of coincidences.
  11. Rye

    Rye Todos Somos Humanos

    You could probably do the same with the plagues in the Mummy.
  12. Kagh't

    Kagh't V 2.5

    Actually, they all line up pretty well, heavy rains causes lots of interesting wildlife to pop up, spread disease and pestilance e.t.c. Lots of sediments in the river turning it red, all seems to work to me.
  13. Es Arkajae

    Es Arkajae God Emperor of Earth

    Well there is one born every minute so they say.:p
  14. There was a James Cameron's documentary last year that showed how the 10 pleages could of worked out using science?

    goggles it...

    ahh here it is -well the basics of the program

    very intersting if look at it. (I watched it when they played it on TV a whill back).

    That said I of the opinion that God uses the local laws of the universe when he dose things.
  15. Rye

    Rye Todos Somos Humanos

    How does a god "use the local laws of the universe"?
  16. Bryan

    Bryan <font color=yellow>The Great Goof!</font>

    Rye, I don't think movies count.

    Kagh't: Well some people will believe everything. If you want to, that is your business. But the scientist never solved anything but postulated on what could have done this or that. As we know and common sense would dictate, there would have to be a lot of coincidences to work the world the scientist is offering.
  17. Alexander Falcorian

    Alexander Falcorian CMS Physicist

  18. Rye

    Rye Todos Somos Humanos

    The Mummy is about as true to life as Exodus is, and films are subject to textual analysis, there's even academic journals on that subject at my uni.

    Common sense would dictate some j00z just made it up.
  19. Senmut

    Senmut America Aeterna!

    Got a problem with "j00z" Rye?
    Baruch atoi Adonai, Eluhaynu...
  20. Bryan

    Bryan <font color=yellow>The Great Goof!</font>

    Rye, are your college you have people writing about The Mummy movie from like 10 years ago?

    I don't doubt some parts of the plague may not have been accurate or the entire Old Testament to be 100% accurate. It has some very good moral messages but has there ever been any scientific proof of the plagues occuring? Unless there is some written proof in another source, it may be difficult to get an accurate representation. Or exactly what constitutes a "plague" versus an isolated problem. People didn't really travel all that far then.
  21. Rye

    Rye Todos Somos Humanos

    Not the Mummy specifically, but yes, film courses exist here (and in the US). This is a journal: http://www.press.uillinois.edu/journals/jfv.html

    Did you come to that conclusion before or after you read about the talking snake?

    Not really. The nicest stuff in it tends to be in-group morality only.

    No. Rivers of blood etc are pretty generic "lamentation" material for the middle east. The Exodus story as a whole is pretty much fictional unless you buy into the minority view about the hyksos, and even then you'd be hard pressed to prove the existence of any plagues and desert wandering for 40 years in that.
  22. Bryan

    Bryan <font color=yellow>The Great Goof!</font>

    Well I'm not taking a view that the plagues were real. Like I said the scientists, IMO hasn't "solved" anything and his "solution" would rely on a bunch of very convenient coincidences. That's my problem with this.
  23. Es Arkajae

    Es Arkajae God Emperor of Earth

    Who gives a shit if Rye doesn't believe the ten plagues happened or not?, he's a fucking atheist, its kind of expected.:p
  24. Reaper_93

    Reaper_93 SB's Fav. Dungeon Master

    I only see seven plagues on that page. Failure.
  25. A. Bettik

    A. Bettik Blue Guy

    First of all, Wikipedia explains how -every- plague could have been a result of a single, documented Volcanic blast... and they -do- seem to have Egyptian archaeological evidence of a period of these strange things happening. (The problem is that this is off by several hundred years as to when people believe Exodus was.)

    I also once saw a Discovery Channel Documentary on this, and they had a -very- good explanation for this, including the Staff turning into a snake and why the Pharaoh didn't give a shit. The staff-into-snake was a popular Witch-Doctor sort of trick where a guy would wrap a snake around a staff, immobilizing it completely. If you covered it in dust, no one would even know it was a real snake and not just ornamental. You could then throw the staff to the ground, the jolt of which would free the serpent, and -voila- instant snake. The guy even did this on screen.

    As for the plagues, and why the pharaoh didn't give a shit, they showed modern day footage of the "plagues" occurring naturally, in Egypt, as part of the yearly cycle. Apparently in some parts, thousands of frogs -do- come out every year. So do locusts. As for the red, that happened when the Nile used to flood, too. No big deal. The Hebrews, not being native, probably thought these were plagues brought on by God, but the Pharaoh was just "Meh. Happens all the time." Until, of course, God sends down the Angel of Death and smites them and the Pharaoh is forced to think "WTF?" Additionally, there is a commonly agreed translation error where "Red Sea" was incorrectly translated from the much shallower "Reed Sea."