Sunday, 16 April 2017

Live Science Tries to Explain the Ten Plagues of Egypt "Scientifically", and Fails

The Plague of Flies, c. 1896–1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot. Public Domain.

Joel Kontinen

Easter is the season when sceptics try to cast doubt on the reliability of the Bible.

One of their strategies is to explain away the miraculous in the Bible, but often their brave new theories lack substance.

Jesus’ death is their favourite, but they also have naturalistic versions of other events, such as Saint Paul’s conversion, which according to their view was caused by a meteor.

This time Live Science attempts to give a scientific explanation for each of the 10 plagues described in the Old Testament book of Exodus:

The 1st plague, blood, was probably caused by a red algae bloom colouring the Nile red.

The 2nd plague, frogs, is not so special as frogs tend to drop from the sky every now and then.

The 3rd plague, lice, might be associated with the bubonic plague.

The 4th plague, flies, might have been any wild animal, including some bigger ones, such as snakes, lions or bears.

The 5th plague, livestock disease, could have been caused by rinderpest.

The 6th plague, boils, could have been smallpox.

The 7th plague, hail, might have been caused by an eruption on the Greek island of Santorini.

The 8th plague, locusts, might be a consequence of the Santorini eruption.

However, according to some estimates the volcano on Santorini might have erupted 300 years before Moses' time.

The 9th plague, darkness, was could have been caused by a solar eclipse (which, however, never last for three days) or by ashes from the Santorini eruption.

The 10th plague, death of the firstborn, might have been caused by eating grain infected by the poisonous algae bloom.

But why would this only kill the firstborn, some of whom were still babies, and no one else?

For Live Science, the answer is not even blowin’ in the wind.

In 2010 the National Geographic Channel aired a programme that featured rather similar explanations.

It is probably needless to say that their solutions were not at all credible.


Live Science Staff. 2017. The Science of the 10 Plagues. Live Science (11 April).