Thursday, September 23, 2010

Parting the Sea

There's a new theory among some scientists as to what may have happened during the events surrounding the Israelites' flight from Egypt. The book of Exodus records that the Israelites were pinned against the sea as the Egyptian military pursued them. It appeared as if there was no escape, but then, the record shows, the sea parted as a result of a strong wind, and the Israelites were able to cross over to the other side. The 14th chapter of Exodus says: "And the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided."

When the Egyptians tried to follow them the next day the winds abated and the waters flooded back over them, drowning many of their number.

This video is an animation of what the latest theory proposes. The site of the crossing is at what is called the Sea of Reeds, and it would have taken a wind of about 60 miles per hour to drive the water back:
There's more on this hypothesis in a summary at New Scientist, which is pretty interesting despite the gratuitously dismissive tone of the author's passing reference to the possibility that God was somehow involved.

"Shut Up," They Explained

Apparently the notion that knowledge is best advanced by encouraging a free exchange of ideas by men and women dispassionately engaged in the quest for truth has become obsolete in countries other than just the United States. Christopher Booker recounts his experience at a conclave of French scientists several months ago in which the scientists recounted the personal and professional price they've had to pay for dissenting from orthodox Darwinism. Booker writes about it at Deccan Chronicle and opens with this lede:
Three months ago I spent a fascinating few days in a villa opposite Cap Ferrat, France, taking part in a seminar with a dozen very bright scientists, some world authorities in their field. Although most had never met before, they had two things in common. Each had come to question one of the most universally accepted scientific orthodoxies of our age: the Darwinian belief that life on earth evolved simply through the changes brought about by an infinite series of minute variations.
The other was that, on arriving at these conclusions, they had come up against a wall of hostility from the scientific establishment. Even to raise such questions was just not permissible. One had been fired as editor of a major scientific journal because he dared publish a paper sceptical of Darwin’s theory. Another had not yet worked out how to admit his scepticism to his fellow academics for fear that he too might lose his post.
The typical mode of academic disagreement on the left (the people who act this way are almost always ideological leftists), whether the issue at stake is Darwinism, global warming, or whatever is not to calmly reply to the dissenters with arguments and evidence to show how they are mistaken. It is rather to avoid engaging them with arguments at all and instead to punish them, vilify them, and portray them as scientific lepers. Here's Booker:
[N]othing better reveals the hole at the heart of their belief system than the fanaticism with which they turn on anyone who dares question the assumption on which it rests, who must be anathematised with all the venom once turned on heretics by the churches.
But the response of the Darwinians has not been to debate these very serious questions but simply to scorn them, caricaturing anyone who raises them as a “neo-Creationist”, no different to those zealots who take Genesis as literally true.
There's more in Booker's column that's worth reading, especially in his last couple paragraphs, but there's something happening here that's not good for science and the cause of Truth. The left is trying to use science as a Trojan horse for smuggling into the culture a naturalist, materialist worldview that they want hardened into a dogma that will brook no challenge. They are totalitarians of the mind, seeking to impose a tyranny of uniform thought on a society that largely has no idea what's happening. They are contemporary Torquemadas, and the more they succeed the less free all of us will be to say, think, and believe what we wish.