It Takes Only A Miracle To Walk On Water…Or Does It?

By Sheryl Eleazar | Last Updated April 4, 2012

Believing in miracle upholds our faith, but if you wish to walk on water as Jesus Christ did; there is a scientific approach that will allow you to do so.

Sheryl Eleazar

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Sheryl Eleazar


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As the Christian world celebrates the season of Lent, believers across the globe commemorate the life, works and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is during these times when miracles performed by Jesus are also recalled and reflected upon.  One of the miraculous acts by Jesus is when he walked on water.

Jesus walking on water is accounted  in the Bible’s New Testament  several times within the three of the four Gospels.  One account can be found in Matthew 14:22-23 and two more accounts in John 6:16-21 and Mark 6: 45-52. It was about that stormy night, the disciples were so scared when Jesus appeared walking on the water to their rescue.

Believers truly deem this story as a significant tale about keeping faith in the Lord; that no matter how hard or difficult life can be, one only needs to trust in the Lord and all will be well. Such is the perception of believers, but certainly not the skeptics and doubters.  In essence, Christ performed a miracle by walking on water whereas normal humans simply sink and drown.

Nowadays, almost everything is researched and studied and every mystery is unraveled.  The miracles that the Lord performed are no exceptions to the ever-seeking minds of humanity.  Call them skeptics, but perhaps these people are merely trying to have a thorough understanding about things.  What was thought of as something that can be defined as solely a miracle has been given a new concept and understanding.

Walking On Ice

In a news article by Libby Fairhurst, one can read

The New Testament story describes Jesus walking on water in the Sea of Galilee but according to a study led by Florida State University Professor of Oceanography Doron Nof, it’s more likely that he walked on an isolated patch of floating ice. 1  

Doron Nof, the head of natural scientists’ team, is a well-known expert in his field. This scientific study referred to in the news article was conducted by a team of scientists in an attempt to provide a paleolimnological explanation for the walking-on-water miracle.   A paleolimnological study involves the re-enactment of paleoenvironments of different inland waters like lakes and streams. This particular study shows  that the unique and rare combination of optimal atmospheric and water conditions caused the development of localized freezing occurrence called ‘springs ice’.

..because the water directly above the plume created by the salty springs does not convect when it is cooled down to 4°C, freezing of the region directly above the salty springs was possible during periods when the climate in the region was somewhat cooler than it is today. We refer to this localized freezing situation as ‘springs ice’. 2  

Sea of Galilee was its old name. Now it is called lake Kinneret by modern Israelis.  About  1500 to 2500 years ago, that area, which is now the northern part of Israel, could have been a natural spot where springs ice formation occur.  According to the study, at the time when Jesus walked on ice, the then cold temperature  may have plummeted for a brief span of time.  Such a floating patch may have been difficult to recognize amidst the unfrozen water in the surroundings.  Again from the study, the unfrozen water consisted of plumes from the salty springs found along the western shore of the lake in Tabgha. It is in Tabgha where a great number of archaeological discoveries associated with Jesus were uncovered.

In the team’s analysis, it was thought that there was an immediate frigid air blast that descended over the lake thereby dropping the temperature down to -4°C for about two consecutive days. This condition matches with the chill that has been present for a century or more (even including the decades when Jesus is believed to have lived).  Provided that these atmospheric conditions happened at the same time over the lake, then the floating patch of ice is likely to have been formed.  This perfect combination of atmospheric condition is apparently miraculous. The odds of it happening today is once in every 10,000 years.  Nevertheless, the prevailing climate during those years of Jesus’ life was highly favorable to the recurrent formations of springs ice.  Nof reiterates that they are merely trying to explain how the freezing processes may have occurred and not exactly explain the miraculous biblical story.

Fun-time:

“There once was a priest, a minister, and a rabbi fishing in a boat together.
One day, the priest said, “I’m thirsty,” and stepped out of the boat. He then walked on water and took a drink from a booth on the beach.
The next day, the minister said, “I’m thirsty,” and stepped out of the boat. He then walked on water and also took a drink from a booth on the beach.
On the third day, the rabbi said, “I’m thirsty”. But as soon as he stepped out of the boat, he drowned.
The minister looked at the priest and said, “Think we shoulda told him where the rocks were?”

Non-miracle Walking on Water

Part of many Science classes is the lesson about ‘Non-Newtonian’ fluid.  It is a kind of fluid with variable viscosity depending on the applied force or stress to it. A very common and popular example is water with dissolved cornstarch. What is interesting about the Non-Newtonian fluid is that when you punch the water, it will behave like a solid due to the stress introduced by the force of the punch. The atoms of the liquid have re-arranged themselves.  Your hand will not go through the liquid but, if you dip your hand ever so slowly, it can penetrate the substance.  Abruptly remove your hand and it will once again harden.

In Trenton, Michigan, the students from Arthurs Middle School performed an experiment on Non-Newtonian fluid. This was featured in the news article by Anne Sullivan:

It was a science experiment, not an experiment in the kitchen, and it had students walking on water. Actually, they were running, jumping, dancing and turning cartwheels and summersaults. Those who attempted to walk sank. 3  

In Conclusion

The biblical story about Jesus’ miracle is indeed an inspiring story that is seemingly not right to question. Nevertheless, man possesses the trait that keeps pushing him to discover many things and find a scientific basis for certain happenings.  The gospel’s miracle account is indeed fuel for everyone’s faith. If you want to walk on water too, you do not necessarily need to pray for miracles nor do you also need to follow Criss Angel’s illusion that uses glass. Instead, mix a lot of cornstarch with water and you will have the most amazing trick of all.

References

  1. Jesus Walked on Ice, Study Says- http://www.fsu.edu/news/2006/04/04/ice.walk/
  2. Is there a paleolimnological explanation for ‘walking on water’ in the Sea of Galilee?- http://doronnof.net/files/kinneret.pdf
  3. TRENTON: Science experiment has students walking on water-http://www.thenewsherald.com/articles/2010/06/05/news/doc4c0a66b302a37165213511.txt



Reactions

  1. That water-cornstarch mixture intrigues me. I wonder how much water and cornstarch should be combined to achieve that solid-like effect.

    • To make such a mixture, I think you need two-parts cornstarch and one-part water.

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