Thursday, 23 April 2015

Meteor Caused St. Paul’s Conversion, Sceptic Claims

The Chelyabinsk meteorite shower, February 15, 2013. Image courtesy of Aleksandr Ivanov, via Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

One of the surest signs of approaching Easter (or Christmas or some other Christian feast) is an attempt by sceptics to explain away a major biblical event.

Past stories have featured Jesus walking on an ice floe, the plagues in Egypt as natural catastrophes, Moses seeing hallucinations, the Jesus’ family tomb fiasco, and, of course, various attempts to account for the empty tomb without a resurrection.

The common denominator in all of these stories is that they are driven by a worldview that does not accept the supernatural dimension. Everything has to be explained by natural causes, regardless of how unbelievable or awkward the outcome becomes.

The latest episode features St. Paul and a falling meteor. According to New Scientist:

William Hartmann, co-founder of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, has a different explanation for what happened to Paul. He says the biblical descriptions of Paul's experience closely match accounts of the fireball meteor seen above Chelyabinsk, Russia , in 2013.

New Scientist has not always been friendly towards biblical Christianity, so we should perhaps not be to surprised at its latest attempt.

New Scientist goes on to say:

But the Bible is not just any ancient text. Paul's Damascene conversion and subsequent missionary journeys around the Mediterranean helped build Christianity into the religion it is today. If his conversion was indeed as Hartmann explains it, then a random space rock has played a major role in determining the course of history.”

The next passage says more about the disbelief – and worldview – of the article writer than about anything else:

That's not as strange as it sounds. A large asteroid impact helped kill off the dinosaurs, paving the way for mammals to dominate the Earth. So why couldn't a meteor influence the evolution of our beliefs?”

Actually, the soft tissue and radiocarbon (C-14) found in dinosaur bone suggests that the “terror lizards” survived the global flood and other catastrophes.

To its credit, the magazine does mention that some researchers doubt this explanation that seems to rely on the basically deistic assumption that God is incapable to stepping down into human history.

However, from beginning to end, the Bible describes God’s interaction with mankind. He takes part in human history. Moreover, as the Gospel of Matthew records, one of Jesus’ names is Immanuel, ‘God with us.’


Aron, Jacob. 2015. Falling meteor may have changed the course of Christianity. New Scientist 3018, 8–9.