<---- Current Location of the Sea of Galilee (AKA Lake Kinneret)
[click on photo to enlarge]
There is a new study out by Florida State University Professor Doron Nof in the April edition of the Journal of Paleolimnology. The study claims Jesus didn’t walk on water, rather an obscure and rare storm caused part of the Sea of Galilee to freeze, enabling him to walk on ice. Once I was able to stop laughing at the absurdity of this statement, I decided to investigate it for myself and I actually read through the article. (For those of you without access to the journal, you can checkout a news article about it by CLICKING HERE.)
As I began to read the article, I realized that there were some major problems with Professor Nof’s arguments. For ease of reading, I decided to categorize these flaws into two different categories: problems with the study and problems when compared to the biblical text.
My first problem with this study is that it’s speculative and just plain bad science. Professor Nof started his study as a witch-hunt. With a reputation for developing theories of natural causes to biblical accounts (i.e. the flood, parting of the red sea) Nof appears to develop his conclusion first and then tries to find data to support his conclusion. Any 6th grader could tell you that this is the opposite of the true scientific method which seeks to derive its conclusion from the data rather than vice versa.
For example, Nof states “With the idea that much of our cultural heritage is based on human observations of nature, we sought a natural process that could perhaps explain the origin of the account that Jesus Christ walked on water.”
Doesn’t this sound like they aren’t so much interested in discovering truth, no matter where it lies (i.e. the scientific method) but rather intentionally seek to find data establishing a non-miraculous explanation?
In an interview after the study, Nof said “I’m not trying to provide any information that has to do with theology here, all we’ve thought is about the natural process. What theologians or anybody else does with that it’s their business so to speak.”
This may sound nice at first, but think about what he’s actually saying “all we’ve thought about is the natural process.” This means he automatically excludes anything that isn’t a natural process, right from the start. The cards are already stacked against anything miraculous from even being a possibility. His pursuit isn’t to seek truth, but rather to cast doubt. It’s no different than a junior high girl starting a rumor just because she doesn’t like someone.
Nof makes numerous other statements supporting this such as “…our present explanation does not exactly address ‘walking on water’ but rather provides a plausible physical process that has some characteristics similar to those described in the New Testament” but I think you get the point.
But in the interest of fairness, let’s look at what arguments Nof himself claims. Remember, Nof’s whole argument is that the water in the Sea of Galilee was frozen, thereby allowing Jesus to appear to walk on water when in actuality he was walking on ice. Nof argues that while just about impossible for the sea to freeze today, it possibly froze a handful of times over the past 2600 years.
The following are quotes taken directly from Nof:
Throughout recent history there have been no known records of a total ice formation on its top. Furthermore, given that convection requires an initial cooling of the entire lake down to 4°C, it is difficult to imagine how such a low-latitude lake, presently subject to two-digit temperatures during the winter, could ever freeze.
Such a perfect combination of conditions on the low-latitude Kinneret [Sea of Galilee] might well seem miraculous. In the last 120 centuries, Nof calculates the odds as roughly once in 1,000 years. However, during the life of Jesus the prevailing climate may have favored the more frequent formation of springs ice -- about once in 30 to 160 years
"In today's climate, the chance of springs ice forming in northern Israel is effectively zero, or about once in more than 10,000 years."
As natural scientists, we simply explain that unique freezing processes probably happened in that region only a handful of times during the last 12,000 years,"."
So let me make sure I understand, in the last 12,000 years the sea has probably frozen over 12 times, and in today’s world (which is the time frame we are doing the study) it’s practically impossible to have it freeze over, we are discounting the eyewitness testimony from those actually at the scene and are now asserting that the timing was so perfect as to allow an opportunity for Jesus to present himself as a fraud?
In the next post we’ll compare the study to what the Bible has to say about the events of that day.