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Attack of the heretics.

With the arrival of Easter, the most significant Christian holy day, it can be expected that anti-religion secularists will ratchet up attacks on the Christian faith. This year the attacks have been both unusually intense and occasionally silly.

Among the attacks to receive widespread attention in the press this Easter is the story that the miracle of Jesus' walking on water can be explained by the freak formation of ice on the Sea of Galilee. This "explanation" has been proposed by Florida State University oceanography professor Doron Nof and his colleagues in a paper entitled Is there a paleolimnological explanation for 'walking on water' in the Sea of Galilee?

In the abstract to his paper, Nof and his coauthors argue "that the unusual local freezing process might have provided an origin to the story that Christ walked on water." They base their conclusion on the notion that the climate in the region was somewhat cooler 2,000 years ago and that this cooler climate may have allowed ice to form in areas where saltwater springs feed the lake. It was on ice formed near these springs, the authors suggest, that Christ walked.

There are a multitude of problems with making such a sweeping judgment about a very rare weather event that may or may not have occurred two millennia ago. First, it is quite nearly impossible for even the best meteorological scientists to determine what the weather will be like even 10 days into the future. Such forecasts are notoriously unreliable even though they are based on intimate knowledge of existing conditions across not only a particular region but around the entire world.

The collective state of knowledge concerning meteorological conditions in the distant past is, by contrast, nearly nonexistent. There is enough evidence to make very broad generalizations only. Moreover, if the water was indeed ice, then the disciples would not have been able to throw their net into the water and their boat would have been locked in ice.

The handling of the Nof paper by the press, though, is only part of a broader spectrum of attacks on Christianity this Easter. A movie based on the notorious anti-Christian book The Da Vinci Code is due out soon, and both the book and movie have been the subject of continual media attention. In addition, the National Geographic Channel has recently made a major push to attract viewers to a program discussing the "Gospel of Judas," which claims that Jesus asked Judas to betray him. An analysis of the Gospel of Judas is historically interesting, but to promote and air such a program as Easter nears is needlessly provocative.

The silliest attack of the heretics this year occurred in St. Paul, Minnesota. There, the Easter Bunny was banned from city council offices by city council president Kathy Lantry as needlessly provocative to people of other faiths. Apparently Lantry is unaware that the city itself is named after the Apostle Paul. There was no word from her as to whether or not the city would change its name to avoid offending non-Christian residents.
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Title Annotation:INSIDER REPORT
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2006
Words:513
Previous Article:Polytheism--key to world peace?
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