Faith and Mythology: Sodom and Gomorrah

The next big Bible story is another "angry God" story, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It's another story that people would like to claim can't be scientific, and it's another one with some fascinating corroborating details:
  • A simple reading says God destroys the people because they’re bad. Allowing for more complex emotions, maybe the destruction is inevitable and God stops protecting them because they won’t listen, just like Noah’s compatriots.
  • Lot doesn’t sound like a very nice guy, offering his daughters and raping them later, etc. But maybe God’s not saving him for being a nice guy. Maybe he’s saving him because Abram prayed, and prayer makes a difference. Maybe God doesn't save us for being nice guys either, and maybe we're not all that nice.
  • The Sodomites sound very unpleasant, but rather similar cultural un-niceties are described in the time of the Judges. It wasn’t such unlikely behavior at the time.
  • Where did the fire come from? In an earlier passage where Abram rescues Lot and the five kings, the Bible says there are bitumen pits nearby. Anyone remember the movie where a volcano rises from the Los Angeles tar-pits? In fact, archeologists have found a string of five city ruins along the Dead Sea, destroyed by fire landing on the rooftops. There’s even a small city that might have almost survived, just as Lot requested.
  • What about pillars of salt? The Bible doesn’t say Lot watched his wife turn into a pillar of salt; maybe it's just what he deduced after she disappeared. The plain, after the volcanic eruption, was and still is dotted with salt pillars, which do indeed look like people.
It all gets even more exciting when you look at Exodus and the history and science behind it, but maybe I’ll deal with that if I ever get asked to give another talk…

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