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The Ten Plagues: Acts of God or Acts of Nature

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The Ten Plagues: Acts of God or Acts of Nature

Staying true to ones faith can be very difficult at times. But what makes it especially hard is when others try to disprove your beliefs. Throughout the history of Christianity, there have been many stories passed on through generations, especially through the Bible. These stories are the basis for many peoples continual faith in the Christian Religion. One of these stories is the story in Exodus about the Ten Plagues that God inflicted on Egypt. The Plagues can all be explained scientifically, and can really make one question whether or not they were caused by God. I found this research to be so phenomenal and scary at the same time.

The First Plague was that God turned the Nile River into blood. The Bible states:

“…all the water that was in the Nile turned to blood. And the fish

in the Nile died; and the Nile became foul… And all the Egyptians dug water round about the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink the water of the Nile.” (Exodus 7:20-24)

Of course Christians would believe this story, especially since it is stated in the Bible. But despite the fact that these plagues are said to have been ceased by God, there is a

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very scientific explanation for them. Algal blooms, which are toxic to fish, are known to be found in seawater (Anonymous). They release red pigment causing "red tides" and kill fish in millions. Also known to be in the water at the time was an algae called Pfiesteria. This type of algae ate at the skin of fish and caused boils and bleeding (Lee). It was said that the Pfiesteria could have affected of millions of fish that were in the Nile at the time. With the combination of blood leaking from millions of fish, and the algal blooms which caused the release of red pigment, it is very easy to explain the “bloody” Nile River.

The Second Plague was the over abundance of frogs. The Bible explains:

“…the Nile shall swarm with frogs which shall come up…into the

houses of your servants and of your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls; the frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your servants.” (Exodus 8:3-4)

Frogs laid thousands of eggs in and around the Nile River every month. In a usual situation, the fish would eat most of the eggs, leaving little of them to hatch. But with the death of nearly all the fish in the River due to the algae, an extremely high amount of the frog eggs hatched (Anonymous). With thousands of frogs hopping around looking for food, they finally left the toxic river and headed toward warmer and more lit areas, such as the houses (Lee). They did so in packs of hundreds. With so many frogs and so little food and water, they all died of starvation. The Bible then states, “And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank.” (Exodus 8:14) This leads to the cause of the next plague.

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The Third Plague is the infestation of gnats, or lice. The Bible says:

” …there came gnats on man and beast; all the dust of the earth became gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 8:17)

The gnats are said to have been called “Culicoides”. This type of species lives off stagnant water and feeds off animal and vegetable matter (Lee). It is very possible that these gnats came swarming around due to the dead frog and fish carcasses and the infected Nile River and its surroundings.

The next Plague is the Fourth and it is swarms of flies. The Bible states:

“I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants and your people, and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians shall be filled with swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there…” (Exodus 8:21-22)

These flies are said to be Stable Flies, because climate and area in which they survive fits that of Egypt at around this time (Anonymous). Stable Flies feed off cattle and horses and can spontaneously increase in population because they lay up to 500 eggs at once. Stable Flies are also known to leave a very painful bite. Now, one might argue that the Bible says the flies affected the Egyptians, but not the people in Goshen (Lee). Goshen was located more inland, further away from the Nile River. When the flies reached the well lit community in Egypt, they had no need to travel further inland to Goshen, which could explain why they were not infected with flies.

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