Welcome back to “Set This On The Table,” the series where I look at the Bible and unpack what’s inside it from an analytical angle. For this one, I’ll be looking at one more case in the Old Testament.
How to Burn a Water-Logged Altar:
One of my favorite acts of the Old Testament prophets is Elisha summoning a pair of bears to beat up the youths harassing him over his hair loss. But another one of my favorites is the time when Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal and let God prove His power, as recorded in I Kings 18.
The intriguing part of this passage is when God sends down fire, and it burns the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the water, as well as the ground around it.
Let’s look at that again. Fire burns at different temperatures depending on the fuel. The fire boiled out the water, meaning it must be hotter than 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and hotter than as the water boiled instantly. The combustion temperature of wood is over twice that, measuring at 451 degrees. Since it was able to boil the water and burn the wood to dust instantly, it must be a lot more than that.
This gets to the tricky part. The fire was hot enough to burn the rocks, which I take to mean it boiled the rocks. To turn rocks into it’s liquid form, lava, it has to be heated to upwards of two-thousand degrees. I can only assume that the temperature at which lava boils is upwards of eight-hundred thousand degrees (800,000). At this point the ground around the altar and the sacrifice on the alter would be long gone.
Moreover, some translations read that the dust itself was consumed.
Okay, let’s break this down. There is a scientific law that states matter cannot be destroyed, it can only change form. So either God took everything on the fire and transmuted it into air, or He broke the laws of physics. This is God; both are possible. Either way, the splitting and fusion of the atoms would result in a nuclear explosion for each speck of dust.
Whatever heat was coming off (the minimum being an assumed-not-calculated 800,000 degrees Fahrenheit, on top of millions of nukes going off) would have spread. This is the simple rule of the convention of heat. If you’ve ever stood by a campfire, you know not to sit too close. You’re not in the fire, but you still feel the heat.
My point is that only God could hose down a four-foot circle on the earth with enough heat and energy to level a continent, and His prophet standing nearby didn’t break a sweat.
Just gonna set that on the table.
That concludes this entry. Next week I’ll be talking about the New Testament, looking at the Miracles of Jesus.