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    Worlds in collision – B’reshit

    The middle of the 20th century saw the publication of Immanuel Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision”. It caused a storm.

    His theme: that Biblical miracles were caused by cataclysmic events in Nature. Whatever explanations the Bible gave, said Velikovsky, other ancient peoples had their own ideas. But according to Velikovsky, most of the ancient theories were far off the truth.

    It was Nature that was really responsible for the great events that so impressed ancient man. It was not Moses’ rod that opened the Red Sea; when the sea opened, it was because of a cosmic disturbance.

    A comet which later became Venus came close to the earth, enveloped the atmosphere in gaseous vapours, reversed the polarity of the magnetic poles, changed the earth’s orbit and disturbed the normal functioning of Nature.

    When the water turned to blood, it was not genuine blood but only looked like it. It was really rust from the tail of the comet that entered the waters of the earth.

    Biblical man, however, lacked the scientific training to identify what had happened and used the religious language of miracles to describe the occurrence.

    Why I am writing about Velikovsky’s book is not to endorse or reject his ideas or to pretend to scientific knowledge, but to illustrate the popular contention that science and religion are, like the title of the book, “worlds in collision”.

    When people are brought up to believe that science must be right about everything (though they can’t always explain which science they are talking about, or which stage in the history of science), they dismiss the Bible and religion as not knowing what they are talking about.

    Yet the fact is that the Bible does not purport to teach science: it teaches religion. Its vocabulary is God, belief, morality, vision and hope. When something happened, it must have been God’s will. Nothing was accidental.

    “And God said” is the Biblical axiom. Everything is an expression of Divine intention and power. God is entitled to harness whatever energies of Nature He desires.

    We call it a miracle, but that is theological shorthand.

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