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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Using Science to Explain Biblical Stories. Part One: Sodom and Gommorah.

**NOTE: This is not an attempt to insult anyone so if you are insulted by this post then I apologize. I am starting a series here on how Biblical stories can often be explained by a modern understanding of science. I am doing it not out of a desire to destroy anyone's faith but from a personal interest explaining the stories I've heard during my 22 years as a Christian. I am a skeptic by heart and enjoy explaining the seemingly inexplicable.***


Sodom and Gomorrah were two ancient cities mentioned in the Bible most likely near the Dead Sea. The story in the Bible says that the town was destroyed by "God" because of the their "wickedness" by fire and brimstone (sulfur rock). So what does science have to say about this story?

As we know much of the Middle East sits above oil and natural gas fields as well as atop pockets of sulfur rock or brimstone. There are fault lines in the area where most scholars believe Sodom and Gomorrah existed as well as within much of the "Holy Land." Ancients didn't know much science and therefore natural disasters would be seen as "God's" doing and explained by man's "sinning."

So all it takes is a decent sized asteroid to hit the area, which would ignite the oil and natural gas fields nearby and underneath the city. As well as the igniting and throwing sulfur rocks into the air, which would then reign down upon the nearby cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus giving off the effect of flaming rocks pouring down upon the cities and burning them to the ground.

Another explanation could stem from the many fault lines that exist in Israel, Jordan and throughout the Middle East. An earthquake could have cracked the Earth, which exposed natural gas pockets, pools of oil and veins of sulfur rock. All it would take is one spark from the many cooking fires to explode the pockets of gas, ignite the sulfur rock, which would reign back down upon the city burning it to the ground.

There are simple, (Occam's razor) scientific explanations for this event either way and so people who were not privy to science would seek to explain such a natural disaster with what they believed--"God." "God" was an understandable way to explain events, which were at the time mysterious in origin and thus very frightening.

~Peace to all beings~

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Angela said...

I am very interested to read your series on the scientific explanations. I'm a (former)Catholic by birth and a chemist by trade. I am also very much a skeptic as well but I'm not very good at explaining myself. Maybe your explanations will help.

I've added you to my blog roll, and will probably checking back in often.

They call him James Ure said...


I'm glad that you have some interest in the series. I will be doing them now and then. I'm thankful that you enjoy the blog and will be returning.

All the best to you. I bow to the Buddha within you...

Carla said...

There's always the even simpler explanation that the story never happened at all.

They call him James Ure said...


Yeah, that's my first thought too. I just enjoy showing how science could explain these stories. In other words, let's give them the benefit of the doubt that something DID happen--can science explain it? It most cases I say, yes.

smellincoffee said...

Of course, the simplest explanation of all is that the story about Sodom and Gomorrah were just made up. Do any other texts reference those two cities? Joseph Smith conjured an entire history of the Americas from the confines of his own...gluteus maximus.

They call him James Ure said...


Yeah overall I think the Bible is made-up. Spiced up with a few historic facts. Like a really bad piece of historical fiction. It's most likely more fiction than history.

william said...

As I heard it from my anthropologist mother, The area around those cities does have outcroppings of mineral salt. So, (according to her)there was some kind of historical connection with Lots wife being turned into a pillar of salt.
At any rate it is less important what happened to the cities that Lots morally questionable 'Hospitality'. according to the story an angry mob demanded that he turn over his guests, (supposedly angelic messengers,) The Values of hospitality were such that Lot would rather offer up his own daughters for the mob to rape, than have any harm come to his guests.
The other important element is Lots wife looking back at the burning cities when she was told not to. Her punishment was to be turned into a pillar of salt. I have always thought of this as a lesson about non attachment, not to be taken literally.

Anonymous said...

Interesting take....
What is your opinion on the information in the link below?

They call him James Ure said...


I have nothing wrong with some of the lessons and morals that some of these Biblical stories teach. Although I do I have some problems with the Sodom and Gomorrah story.

I do have a problem with claims that the Bible is literally true. It leads to zealots and intolerance I've often found. Not always true but often.

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