Christ and Common Sense: Was Sodom destroyed by a 20-megaton meteor explosion? – Hanford Sentinel


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The biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction is one of the most dramatic events recorded in Scripture. Genesis 19: 24-25 describes the cataclysmic event like this, “Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.”

God’s wrath against the wickedness of those cities may be shocking, but it was completely justified. Psalm 98: 14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.” God defines justice. Romans 12: 19 says, “Beloved never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord.’” God’s violent justice matches the violent wickedness of the people. 

We know it was a cosmic punishment because the Bible says God rained down sulfur and fire out of heaven. We know this is true because God’s word says so, but is it possible to have a scientific explanation for such a supernatural event? I believe the following archeological and geological evidence would support the biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah.

James Kennet is a distinguished professor of earth science at UC Santa Barbara. He has been studying the geology and archeology of an ancient city at a site called Tell Al-Hammam. It is located northeast of the Dead Sea in the country of Jordan. As scholars study this large manmade hill they are able to reveal history through the successive layers of the earth.

James Kennet said, “It’s an incredibly culturally important area… Much of where the early cultural complexity of humans developed is in this general area.”

There is one layer of the Tell that has puzzled researchers for many years. It is a 1.5 meter thick layer that modern archeologists date to the Middle Bronze Age II (around 3,650 years ago or 1650 BC). This layer is remarkable because it contains evidence of extreme heat that is much higher than any temperature that could be produced by humans at that time. Philip Silva, a field archeologist and supervisor with the Tell-Al Hammam Excavation Project, found pieces of pottery that were turned to glass because of the high heat! In fact, he discovered pieces of a mineral called zircon that turned to gas — which requires 7,230 degrees Fahrenheit (4,000 degrees Celsius).

Now how could this type of heat be produced in the middle of the Jordan desert? Philip Silva said, “The only naturally occurring event capable of causing such an unusual pattern of destruction is a cosmic airburst.” A cosmic airburst, also known as a meteor air burst, happens when a large meteor explodes as it hits the thicker part of the atmosphere. The most powerful recorded example of this happened in 1908 in northeastern Russia. The Tunguska event was a 12 megaton explosion that flattened an estimated 80 million trees over an area of 830 square miles. Eye witnesses recorded successive waves of intense heat, earth quakes, and thunderous sound. It is estimated that the meteor disintegrated at around 3-6 miles above the surface of the earth.

Scientists believe the cosmic airburst that occurred above Tell Al-Hammam happened much closer to the earth because the area of destruction was limited to 200 square miles. If the meteor exploded less than a mile above the earth then the targeted area would have experienced the equivalent of 1,000 atomic bombs (The Hiroshima bomb had an estimated value of 15 kilotons). This is staggering to consider and could explain why James Kennet discovered that even quartz, which is one of the hardest minerals on earth, was cracked under such high pressure.

There is also a fascinating description of how the explosion caused salt to be disbursed over the entire area. According to a paper published last month in the scientific journal Scientific Reports, the researchers discovered an unusually high percentage of salt in the 1.5 meter layer at Tell Al-Hammam. James Kennet wrote, “The salt was thrown up due to the high impact pressures… And it may be that the impact partially hit the Dead Sea, which is rich in salt.” This would explain why a high level of salt appears throughout the area at this time in history, which is one reason why archeologists believe the entire region became uninhabited for the next 600 years (this is referred to as the Late Bronze Age Gap).

As Christians, we are not surprised to read of discoveries that seem to confirm the biblical account. The Rosetta Stone, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Tel Dan inscription are just a few of the remarkable discoveries that confirm what we have already known all along. The biblical account is true and accurate in its description of history, whether it relates to the natural or the supernatural world. But even more importantly we believe that the Bible is true in terms of the theology it describes. The theology of Scripture teaches us that God is holy and humanity is sinful. It teaches that there is only one way to be saved from God’s just wrath against sin and that is by confessing our sin and trusting that Jesus Christ died as a substitutionary atonement for those who “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.” (Romans 10:9).

So was the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah a result of a cosmic meteor airburst? It’s possible that God used that to bring punishment on these cities, but it is also possible that there could be another scientific explanation for this event. What we can be certain of is that the Bible is accurate in its description of history, and the archeological and geological findings support the Biblical account.

Pastor Tim is an avid fan of biblical archeology and is currently attending Grace Bible Church in Hanford where pastor Bud Haskell is teaching on the fascinating book of Ezra. You can reach pastor Tim at [email protected]

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