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When science meets Sodom

One can’t really say the debate between science and religion continues, since by definition a debate is about different interpretations of the same facts.

Unfortunately, when you salt so much of the discussion with historical inaccuracies, misinformation, and myths, the entire science vs. religion “debate” gets sideways fast. If we can’t agree on the facts at point A, we are not likely to get to point B via a straight or curved line anytime soon, as scientists continue to fear religious dogmatism and religious people remain wary of scientism.

One thing that is not debatable is that social media today is awash with inaccuracies and myth-making of its own. So I was pleasantly surprised to find in an unsolicited post from a Facebook “friend” — a person who really isn’t my friend in the strictest sense of the word — an enlightening, educating piece of news. 

I could almost smell the aroma of proverbial “clickbait” when my eyes met the tantalizing title of the article on my feed: “Evidence of Sodom? Meteor Blast of Biblical Destruction Say Scientists.”

The headline harkened back to the glory days of outrageous tabloid papers at the grocery store checkout line. But this was not about finding Bigfoot living comfortably in suburban Boise, Idaho, or the discovery of a crashed Nazi rocket ship on the surface of the moon with Hitler’s brain in the onboard freezer. It was about a real, scientifically proven event from the past — a past that intersected with a time and place chronicled in holy Scripture.

A skeptic at heart, I thought I would regret my decision to open the link, and once again feel used and abused by Facebook algorithms. But despite the tabloid-esque headline, I found a sober recounting of some very sobering scientific discoveries in the Holy Land recorded not in the Old Testament, but in The Times of Israel.

The Times of Israel is not the kind of publication you find in a checkout line among headlines of alien abductions and JFK conspiracy theories. It is a major online newspaper of record, and this article had real news to report: findings from a team of scientists claiming evidence of an ancient and massive meteor strike just north of the Dead Sea.

Based on the strata of earth these scientists investigated and the residual “glass” they discovered was the result of massive amounts of instantaneous heat, they were able to authoritatively date and qualify the magnitude of the disaster using all the modern scientific tools at their disposal.

The article led me to an update to the story published in late September. The results of the inquiry were immense on a biblical scale, as evidence there found that “the explosion would have wiped out all civilization in the affected area, including Middle Bronze Age cities and towns.” 

Two of those towns, the researchers suggested, would have been Sodom and Gomorrah. Advanced science now tells us that around 3,700 years ago, a once fertile and thriving part of the ancient world disappeared in an instant.

The scientists concluded that a large meteor, similar to one that we know devastated Siberia at the beginning of the 20th century, exploded just before impact. Like that Siberian meteor strike in 1908, the meteor that struck Sodom and Gomorrah left no crater, but sand turned to glass, and the absence of all signs of human existence in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophic event is hard, scientific evidence pointing to something very dramatic and instantaneous — kind of like what the Book of Genesis describes.

Science is about observation. The Bible chronicles a lot of observation, and in Genesis, we learn the story of Lot and his family and how they were warned to leave their home because the Lord was determined to smite Sodom and Gomorrah.

Scientists and materialists may roll their eyes at this fairy tale, but, ironically, this new scientific discovery acts more like an addendum to a biblical commentary. “Then Yahweh rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire of his own sending.”

And there’s one more nugget in these findings: The scientists surmised that besides the life-destroying intense heat, “waves of the Dead Sea’s briny anhydride salts would have — tsunami-like — caused blistering hot, strong winds, which deposited a rain of mineral grains, which have been found on pottery.” Now the biblical observation of what happened to Lot’s wife has a scientific component.

It’s folly to believe science can prove or disprove the existence of God. It is comforting, at least to simple minds like mine, to see serious scientific inquiry sync up with divinely inspired writing. This discovery on the plains near the Dead Sea is a welcome reminder that science and faith aren’t the adversaries they are often made out to be.

By: Robert Brennan

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