Professor Tom Meyer of Shasta Bible College in Redding, California, accepts the idea that some miracles recorded in the Bible defy any possible natural explanations, like Jesus walking on water or feeding the 5,000 men with five loaves and two fish. Nevertheless, he believes that there are other miracles in the Bible that can be backed by scientific or natural explanations.
Two examples of such miracles, according to Meyer, are the sudden halt to the flow of the Jordan River that allowed the Israelites to cross on dry land in Joshua 3 and the day the Earth stood still to allow Joshua and his army to defeat their enemies in Joshua 10. For the Jordan River miracle, Meyer points out that historical records show that the river was blocked several times due to landslides and mudslides caused by nearby earthquakes in 1266, 1906, and 1927, and at other times. This would have allowed millions of Israelites to cross on dry ground in half a day, claims Meyer.
On the day the sun and moon stood still in Joshua 10, Meyer believes Joshua asked God to keep the sun from shining all day to help the Israelites’ surprise attack in darkness. The professor believes the severe hailstorm that killed most of Israel’s enemies that day (Joshua 10:11) was the natural explanation for how the sun was blocked out all day. And then in typical “Bible scholar” fashion, Professor Meyer gives his interpretation of what it really meant for the sun and moon to “stand still,” stating that the Hebrew phrase in the passage was really saying “to be silent or cease or leave off.” Meyer believes the “correct translation” should say that the sun “made no haste to come about a whole day.” The passage did not mean the Earth and moon stopped their orbit like many Christians claim, according to Meyer.
Meyer’s suppositions don’t match what scripture actually says. In Joshua 3, it says that the Lord didn’t separate the waters upstream from the waters downstream in the Jordan until the very moment the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant touched the brim of the overflowing river water (Joshua 3:15-16). The moment their feet hit the edge of the river is the moment the waters were pushed back and the river bottom was immediately dried. If a landslide or mudslide had happened at that very moment (if we believe Meyer’s version) the priests would still have to wait hours before the ground would have dried. Furthermore, the river in Meyer’s version of events would not have been timed perfectly to once again overflow it’s banks at the very second the priests stepped out of the river bottom as stated in Joshua 4:18.
On the day the Earth stood still in Joshua 10, Meyer’s assumption that the whole day was fought against the Amorites in darkness doesn’t jibe with scripture. Joshua 10:13 says, “…the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.” It states without question that the sun remained in the sky all day and that the sun did not set, or go down, in its usual time frame, but that the time of sunset was extended beyond its normal time. All in all, Meyer’s theories are interesting, but he fails in his attempt to prove these particular incidents could be chalked up to natural explanations, even if he wishes to use natural explanations to prove the Bible is accurate.
Source: Sebastian Kettley, Bible miracles: Expert reveals how ‘natural explanations’ could prove the Bible was right, Daily Express (express.co.uk), May 16, 2020.
(Featured image: Joshua passing the River Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant by Benjamin West, 1800.)