March 29, 2016

Walking on Thin Ice

Photo from Poretto @ Bastion of Liberty

This image in this morning's email brought this meditation from 2006 to mind:

To the secular, nothing is sacred. Then again, why should it be? They're "secular."

Back in 2006 National Geographic and other media echo chambers thought enough of this "discovery" to headline it, Jesus May Have Walked on Ice, Not Water, Scientists Say . I'm not nearly so objective. After I read the story, I thought it could more reasonably be headlined, Scientist Confirms Popular Theory That Most Scientists Are Atheistic Asses with Too Much Time and Money on their Hands, Sensible People Say

The New Testament says that Jesus walked on water, but a Florida university professor believes there could be a less miraculous explanation -- he walked on a floating piece of ice....

Nof, a professor of oceanography at Florida State University, said on Tuesday that his study found an unusual combination of water and atmospheric conditions in what is now northern Israel could have led to ice formation on the Sea of Galilee.....

"If you ask me if I believe someone walked on water, no, I don't," Nof said. "Maybe somebody walked on the ice, I don't know. I believe that something natural was there that explains it."

"We leave to others the question of whether or not our research explains the biblical account."

We leave to others the question of whether or not this research is worth diddly-squat. What is of broader interest is the present state of the secular mindset to all things religious.

Religious in the Christian sense, that is, since the current global climate of "Fear of Muslims" seems to have created a shortage of "scientific research" into the various miracles and powers assigned to Allah in the Koran. Indeed, given the reaction to a drawing of the Prophet with a bomb in his turban, it is not hard to imagine that even if a "scientist" were to notice "something natural that explains" Allah, his next thought would be something on the order of "Why should I put my head on the chopping block?" Jesus, being a more forgiving God, is safer game.

Of course, it is, as scientists are wont to say, 'only a theory.' This is used in two ways.

When it comes to a central tenet of modern science, Darwinism for example, the word "theory" is used in a manner that merges forcefully into the word "fact," and a great deal of effort is put into why "The Theory of Evolution" really means "The Absolute and Forever Established Fact of How the World and Life and Everything Else Came to Be and Everyone Else Can Just Shut UP and Sit Down."

Nof opts for the Non-Denial Denial use of "Theory" in his paper. The Non-concluding Conclusion to his paper, "Is there a paleolimnological explanation for 'walking on water' in the Sea of Galilee," reads:

We hesitate to draw any conclusion regarding the implications of this study to the actual events that took place at Tabgha during the last few (or several) thousand years. Our springs ice calculation may or may not be related to the origin of the account of Christ walking on water. The whole story may have originated in local ancient folklore which happened to be told best in the Christian Bible. It is hoped, however, that archeologists, religion scholars, anthropologists and believers will examine such implications in detail.

Translation: "I just pulled the pin and threw the grenade in the building. Can't blame me. I was just the hand grenade's messenger. And, by the way, you may cower and abase yourself when you note the insertion of the word "paleolimnnological" in the title. Makes it sound real solid scientific, don't it?"

Of course, when Nof gets a little attention from a supportive and loving media, he phrases it a bit differently, "If you ask me if I believe someone walked on water, no, I don't," Nof said. "Maybe somebody walked on the ice, I don't know. I believe that something natural was there that explains it."

Nof's entitled to his 'belief' in "something natural." That belief system is not only the foundation of his career, but of his self-limited life itself. It is, in a very real sense, his religion.

As far as the whole "Jesus walked on the water" issue goes, my own belief is: "I don't know. I wasn't there. I can't seem to find the weather report from that day online. And there's no video tape that I'm aware of. Just some eye witnesses, with all that implies."

I'm also aware of another theory that holds that the Star of Bethlehem was a supernova that just happened to show up in the sky at Christ's birth. Arthur C. Clarke used this to good effect in his short story "The Star." T.S. Eliot used it earlier in "The Journey of the Magi." In a much less distinguished manner, I've even used it myself in Sunday Meditation: The Star @ AMERICAN DIGEST where I noted, in passing,

In time stronger sciences would rise upon the structures of the proto-sciences of astrology and alchemy. These sciences would push the first sciences into the realm of myth, speculation, and popular fantasy. The new sciences, you see, were much, much more about Reality. They would never be tossed aside in their time as so many playthings of mankind's youth. The authority of astronomy, biology, physics, chemistry and others was certain. Unlike astrology and alchemy, they would never be questioned. We had the evidence. There was no doubt. They were as eternal and as fixed in the truth as... well, as astrology was in 5 B.C.

All of which gets us back to pretty much where we are today where Christ is revealed to have been, at the very least, pretty good at ice-skating. And, with a supernova at birth and a frozen lake near the end, you would have to say, even as a secular scientist, that Jesus had a great sense of timing as well as a way with words.

Nof seems to have a sense of timing and a way with words as well. I'm sure there are nods of approval and various other high fives pinging into his email today from other true believers world-wide. After all, it seems that the only thing that makes a bigger splash in Science these days than a cure for cancer is some bit of "cutting-edge research" (almost always with the aid of computer modeling) that either warms the globe or disparages religion.

Why? Because it is a central tenet of faith, of pure faith, in the Secular Religion, that traditional Christianity is the "Anti-Darwin" to that faith. Strange when you consider that, in terms of actual dogma and actual acts, Islam is far more hostile to all the core tenets of science, but -- as I noted above -- it really isn't very safe to take too close a look at that collection of ergot-derived insights out of the desert. Those adherents are a bit more lethal when it comes to accepting slights on their religion. But then Christianity is the dominant religion of the First World and that's what we're discussing here -- not which faith is right, but which faith is to be master. It seems that for Science to triumph as the new religion, Christ has to die again -- and this time he's got to stay dead.

There are fundamentalist Christians who hold that everything in the Bible is as the Bible says it is. And there are fundamentalist Scientists, like Nof, who hold that nothing in the Bible is as it says it is.

My very small puppy in this fight says that there is a lot in Science that lets all of us live longer and better lives while there is a lot in Christianity that lets us live deeper and more meaningful lives.

I don't look to Christianity to bring me the weather reports for tomorrow. At the same time I don't look to Science to ever, in its widest dreams, reveal the core of the miracle and mystery of being a conscious entity who has been granted the gift of being able, in my better moments, to witness -- even for an inch of time -- the wonder of Creation.

I know that there are many zealots of the Secular Faith who will think the less of me for not being "tough minded" enough just to face up to the fact that everything really is "purposeless matter hovering in the dark." I know that habit of mind well. I wore it like a pre-fab Medal of Honor for many years. Then one day I had had enough of Nothingness and I sent it back.

I guess you could say that being a Secular Atheist started to feel like trying to walk on thin ice.

Posted by Vanderleun at March 29, 2016 2:11 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I'm not into all the superstition, but I think this guy's research time could have been spent on something else.

Posted by: Eric Blair at April 5, 2006 11:48 AM

Scientists have been trying to put religion on ice for years. At the same time, they are convinced that only Darwin walked on water.

Posted by: Gagdad Bob at April 5, 2006 11:53 AM

Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:
"Known knowns. Known unknowns. Unknown unknowns."

Secular Humanists cannot deal with the "known unknowns" of the Vertical.

Dan Brown is the source for Nok. Brown has unearthed reports by Romans of galleys frozen in the Med. These secret reports also include drawings of the native population's ritual of carrying large bladders of cheap wine onto the ice, then cutting holes and building little sheds to harvest the sea. The children and the "touched"are shown in their own sections where the chant "we're walking on water" is sung until at least 7 are drowned.

Brown has been asked to hold off publication of his new book until after the midterms.

But the Dems are having problems keeping everyone onboard and quiet:

"When Jesus Was A Democrat"
Hillary was not happy with the PAST TENSE in the title at The NEW REPUBLIC online.

New emails are begging the LSM, Academentia and the rest of their minions to stop exposing the Dems schizophrenia on Christianity.

Hillary et al. want to be able to pull it out when they think it will serve. And the NYT's tries mightily by publishing an article to show us the "holiness" of Planned Parenthood.

"Please do not let our black majority know what we really think." is the plea.

Poor desperate Hillary has pled to Congress that Jesus not get arrested as an illegal alien to cover the blurts of her co-lefties.

Joe Klein & Chris Matthews have received word that one more segment showing their disdain and they will be blacklisted from exclusive interviews.

Their iconic "funny man/expert of the world" Bill Maher, who gets lots of face time on the LSM & CNN's Larry King Show, ignored the email as he is going for EMMY's.

Thanks to Neil Sheppard at NewsBusters here are some of the Maher "jokes" last week:

He began by suggesting that Christianity has “taken over all three branches of government, country music, public schools, [and] the best sellers list.” He then suggested that Christians are “part of a dress-up cult that hates sex and worships magic.”

“The Christian right are now the party of paranoia.” His solution:“If you’re going to be that paranoid all the time, just get high.”

...“And the worst part is the people bitching loudest about being persecuted for their Christianity aren’t Christians at all. They’re demagogues and conmen and scolds, and the only thing they worship is power.”

.... “If you believe Jesus ever had a good word for war, or torture, or tax cuts for the rich, or raping the earth, or refusing water for dying migrants, then you might as well believe bunnies lay painted eggs.”

“Now, I know George Bush says Jesus Chris changed his heart, but believe me, Dick Cheney changed it back. The only thing Bush has in common with Jesus is they both went into their father’s business and got crucified for it.”

“This Easter season, let’s give [Christians] what they want – let’s go to the zoo, get some lions, and feed them Tom DeLay.”

And false fronts do wear on a person:

On April 3rd, American Thinker praised "The Nation" for publishing this:
Pull back the curtain

Kudos to Ronald Aronson who authored this article in The Nation: “The Left Needs More Socialism.” Finally, the truth comes out. Aronson admonishes Democrats to
..break a taboo and place the word ‘socialism’ across the top of the page in a major American progressive magazine [“The Nation”]. Time for the left to stop repressing the side of ourselves that the right finds most objectionable. Until we thumb our noses at the Democratic pols who have been calling the shots and reassert the very ideas they say are unthinkable, we will keep stumbling around in the dark corners of American politics, wondering how we lost our souls—and how to find them again.

Hopefull Katrina Van Der "Hovel" and Ronald Aronson will now explain what "socialism" really means - and it sure isn't National Health Care.

Hillary is really trying to get HOLLYWOOD under control. But is appears useless.

Egos are involved, the director of '"BASIC INSTINCT II" blames the poor box-office on GW's Christians for making the world "unsafe" for sexy movies.

I'll stop, but I have so much more just from past week.

Kudos to Cynthia McKenney, she's used everything other reason but as yet hasn't worked Jesus into her defense. (I better click post now, before I hear latest Cynthia report)

Posted by: LARWYN at April 5, 2006 11:54 AM

Sounds like a retread of the "Stupid Semite" theory -- some
explanation for events that assumes a gigantic lack of common sense
for the people there at the time. (Further examples: Jesus "feinting"
and people just forgetting to check, Jesus running up a mountain
during a fog instead of ascending, etc.).

People weren't any smarter back then --- but they weren't any stupider either.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp at April 5, 2006 1:07 PM

This kind of news always reminds me of this joke:

One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell Him that they were done with Him.

The scientist walked up to God and said, "God, we've decided that we no longer need you. We're to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don't you just go on and get lost."

God listened very patiently and kindly to the man and after the scientist was done talking, God said, "Very well, how about this, let's say we have a man making contest." To which the scientist replied, "OK, great!"

But God added, "Now, we're going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam."

The scientist said, "Sure, no problem" and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt.

God just looked at him and said, "No, no, no. You go get your own dirt!"

Posted by: Daran at April 5, 2006 1:42 PM

People like Nof are proof that God has a marvelous sense of humor--Jesus probably got a good laugh out of that Reuters item.

Posted by: Connecticut Yankee at April 5, 2006 1:47 PM

That's incredible! Does he mean to say that Jesus surfed on a piece of ice? It's one thing to walk on water, but to surf, that's just too cool, dude!

Posted by: StephenB at April 5, 2006 4:41 PM

From my own experience I can testify that many, many surfers know Jesus up close and personal. And will tell you about it.

Posted by: Vanderleun at April 5, 2006 5:20 PM

Well, yeah, this type of "research" is pretty absurd. I can see the members of the Assembly of God Church down the street, upon getting the news that Jesus may have surfed on a slab of ice, becoming Unitarians.

Man, that would be fun. I've never had Unitarians come to my door to invite me to church. Plus, I want to see a cartoon of Surfin' Jesus calming the stormy sea.

Shoot, you guys are going to get me sent straight to hell. I'm not out of Lenten mid-week service 30 cotton pickin' minutes and I'm already delighting in sacriligious images.

Posted by: Rita R. at April 5, 2006 7:39 PM

You think that's bad— because of a particular discussion I had with a friend of mine, I can now envision the Precious Moments™ cruxifiction.

I'm going to Hell...

Posted by: B. Durbin at April 5, 2006 9:50 PM

A mother was very pleased that her son, who she had just put into Catholic school, had greatly improved in math.

MOM: "Johnny, I'm so proud of how well you're doing in math. You must really like your new teacher."

JOHNNY: "I'm not sure it's the teacher, Mom, more like I seen what they did to the guy with the plus sign."

Posted by: LARWYN at April 6, 2006 3:27 AM

Peter, at least, was a professional fisherman. He'd have to have been out on the sea in that boat in all kinds of weather many many hundreds of times. He'd have known what he was seeing.

Posted by: Gandalin at April 6, 2006 7:40 PM

"All of which gets us to pretty much were we are today where Christ is revealed to have been, at the very least, pretty good at ice-skating."

Well, ice-surfing, at the very least. He's reported to have walked out to a boat that was attempting to cross the lake. A neat trick, eh?

At some point, we hope, such "scientists" will remember the tenets of their creed:
-- That knowledge consists of the ability to predict;
-- That a phenomenon observed or reported once, that cannot be replicated, can never be confidently attributed to a definite cause;
-- That the inability to experiment denies one the privilege of confidence;

...after which the rest of us can enjoy the blessings and comforts of faith without being repeatedly heckled by persons whose presumptions exceed their abilities and achievements.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at July 2, 2010 6:32 AM

Amen and Amen!

Once again, Vanderleun, you reveal The Divine.

Posted by: twolaneflash at July 2, 2010 7:50 AM

Nice, but a bit wordy. My summary: they're a bunch of bullying chickenshits.

Posted by: Mike Anderson at July 2, 2010 7:58 AM

And lo, it came to pass, that profane men, full of noise and wind and who made their fortunes by disseminating poisonous disbelief to gullible Manipulators of Deception, did blaspheme and contend that Jesus, Son of the Living God, did not the miraculous, and walk upon the waters, but did only walk upon ice which covered the water.
...and Peter and Andrew, His disciples, did marvel that ice should appear upon the water, beneath the feet of their Master, and they did confess, "Lo, Thou art the Son of the Living God, for thou canst cause ice to form upon water where there had been none.
And the secularists gave no further explanation, but did depart, seething, and vowing to prove the Son of Man a charlatan and liar.

Posted by: Jewel at July 2, 2010 8:07 AM

Good point Mike. I'll take out some of the wordiness.

Posted by: vanderleun at July 2, 2010 10:27 AM

Thank you for this post. It came at the right time for me to read and laid out some thougths I needed to think on. have a great day.

Posted by: rsj at July 2, 2010 11:32 AM

Trying to figure out how Jesus walked on the water completely misses the point of the passage. The story, in Matthew 14, is a lesson for the early church, represented by the boat with all the disciples in it, but Jesus absent. The story teaches not to leave the boat - that is, to stay safe in storms (persecutions, social isolations) believers have to draw close together.

This is what Peter did not do - he left the boat and, even with best intentions, sank like a stone. But even then, Jesus saved him.

Jesus walking on the water does two things - reinforces his identity as deity, since the Jews, along with other ancient Near East peoples, believed that only God could do such a thing, and teaches the church that the risen Christ is transcendent over current events, that the storms of life are no obstacle to Jesus' power or presence.

It's no surprise that a secular scientist would entirely miss the point, I suppose. The point of the passage is what does it teach Christian believers, not how was the "miracle" done. In fact, in every miracle story in the Gospels, the fact of the miracle is secondary to the meaning. And the meaning is always embedded within the context of the story itself.

What does the passage do is the key point, not how was the miracle performed.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at July 2, 2010 1:39 PM

Flat-footed thinking.

Posted by: Kate Rafferty at July 2, 2010 2:48 PM

We've got a half dozen NatGeos scattered about our living room; some still in the shipping plastic.

I opened one of those up the other day and read all about Greenland's ice sheet and how Global Warming is going to raise the levels of the oceans as much as *drum roll* 23 feet.

There were graphics. And time lines. They even talked about Lief Erickson and Eric the Red.

About the "scam" he used - calling the place GREENland to sucker people to move there. And how they wised up

after four hundred years

and then left.

There's nothing in the graphics about the Medieval Warm Phase. Except for one line of text. But there's lots and lots of graphics showing how bad it will be when the sheets are GONE.

Told the wife she can subscribe to NatGeo and Consumer Reports if she wants. Just don't ask me to write any checks. Thanks.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 2, 2010 4:07 PM

May I share my take on that "Jesus walked on ice" story?

GINA COBB - Jesus Walked on Ice? Give Me a Break

What are the odds that temperatures just happened to drop to 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius) "during one of the two cold periods 2,500 –1,500 years ago for up to two days" during the exact three years when Jesus was engaged in his active ministry on earth?

That alone sounds so improbable that it would have to be described as -- dare I write it? -- a miracle.

What are the odds that these freak conditions -- normally occurring only once in 10,000 years -- created a small, invisible patch of ice exactly where Jesus was walking -- but in such a small area that it did not interfere with navigation of the disciples' boat nor save Peter from slipping into the water -- yet created ice thick and strong enough to support a grown man's weight without breaking or tipping?

Have any of these scientists ever tried walking across a small patch of invisible ice on the ocean in a storm?

I'm not clear from the news summary how thick or thin this once-in-10,000-years (or once-in-30-to 60-years ice) supposedly was. How thick could it have been if the cold snap lasted for a maximum of only "two days"?

Nor is it clear from the report how Jesus could have reached over and pulled Peter up when he started to sink (Matthew 14:22-32) without slipping off this invisible ice floe himself, but I guess we'll have to take it on faith (so to speak) that this whole ice thing is possible.

Ironically, the Bible story in question is about faith -- and lack thereof:

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

But I suppose scientists cannot resist trying to explain things from a purely scientific standpoint. That is their job description, after all.

And even more exciting studies are in the works!

In future reports, scientists intend to prove that:

- Jesus possibly used "chum" to attract large quantities of fish for his disciples' nets

- Jesus may have used "Fish Helper" to extend "a few small fish" into enough to feed thousands

- Jesus could have ascended into heaven with the help of a giant pulley

Stay tuned!

Posted by: Gina Cobb at July 2, 2010 6:01 PM

My theory that mohammed was the great deceiver himself(satan)makes much more sense when the recorded information is honestly analyzed than this so called "scientist's" drek. It might also account for the MSM's attacks on Christianity if they are also being used as tools of the devil. Always keep your guard up lest you fall into the trap, and never underestimate your foe. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, mohammed is a false prophet, and yes that is my real name.

Posted by: Roger Drew Williams at July 2, 2010 9:45 PM

What is it with these 'scientists'? Jesus taught love, understanding and faith in ourselves. Don't these yokels have better things to do than to discredit Jesus? Why don't they try this with the islamic faith? Or is the chance of a fatwa to much for them to bear?

Posted by: wildman at July 3, 2010 7:31 AM

I think I prefer faith to all other explanations. It's the only thing that makes the most sense.

Posted by: Jewel at July 5, 2010 5:45 PM

Well said all the way through. I love science, especially chemistry, but science, as we used to understand, cannot be trusted to control itself. You still have to have a way to decide right and wrong that stands outside and above a given technology. The question Christianity answers is not "can we do this" but "should we do this".

Posted by: mushroom at August 29, 2012 7:38 AM

When I read stories ridiculing religion I always think of the word hubris.

Posted by: Gary at August 29, 2012 8:41 AM

Agnosticism makes sense to me; this is an awful lot to just believe, the whole God and religion thing. It takes faith.

But atheism? It takes more faith to be an atheist than religious.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at August 29, 2012 11:20 AM

RE: the image link, Francis W. Porretto's "Eternity Road" is no more, being superseded by "Liberty's Torch." Please update your bookmark.

Posted by: Chas C-Q at August 29, 2012 11:29 AM

Science is very good at explaining "what" happened, or "how" it happened. Take, for instance, the Big Bang Theory. Some of the best scientific minds have come up with some pretty nifty equations that describe the universe 1/1000th of a second after the Bang. Very well. What science can't explain is what was going on 1/1000th of a second before the Bang, or how all that matter managed to get in one place to begin with. Even more importantly, science can't even touch "why" it all happened. That is where religion comes in.

Posted by: waltj at August 29, 2012 12:32 PM

This Just In: National Geographic reveals that Jesus' middle initial really was "H".

Posted by: B Lewis at August 29, 2012 12:47 PM

To the secular, nothing is sacred. Then again, why should it be? They're "secular."

Goofy circular logic, and without merit.

Posted by: ghostsniper at March 29, 2016 6:31 AM

Seen on a billboard this weekend:

Religion says "DO"
Jesus says "DONE"

I liked it after I thought about it.

Sometimes you write pieces that I really have nothing about. I'm glad I read them. I think they are interesting. I'm glad you took the time to share. Thanks for being really good at being you (I bet it isn't easy)!

Posted by: DeAnn at March 29, 2016 8:16 AM

Scientist Confirms Popular Theory That Most Scientists Are Atheistic Asses with Too Much Time and Money on their Hands, Sensible People Say


Posted by: Charlie at March 29, 2016 8:41 AM

Everybody does a little, ISIS boys do the heavy lifting abroad (well, for now) LGBT works the media and D.C., U of F, provide some theoretical's. Nate Deal folded like a well-oiled jackknife today, the war never ends.

Posted by: Will at March 29, 2016 2:01 PM


"Because of its sheltered location, low elevation, and the influence of the lake itself, the winters are mild, with temperatures averaging 57 °F (14 °C) in January. The absence of freezing temperatures has facilitated the cultivation of bananas, dates, citrus fruit, and vegetables."

Posted by: el baboso at March 29, 2016 6:56 PM