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The Kobe Earthquaqe

My grandson loves to watch documentary TV shows about disasters, the dirtiest jobs, and so on.  The other day he was watching a show about Japan’s Kobe earthquake in 1995.  There were scenes of incredible devastation everywhere, snippets of the ground rocking and rolling, death and destruction as far as the eye could see, and so forth.

I’ve seen many similar videos of other earthquakes.  So while the event is terrifying (having experienced one in California in 1971), there was nothing particularly striking or unusual about the footage, until the clip showed water bubbling up from the ground.

Just imagine seeing a curtain of water about 30 feet long and six inches thick squirting up out of the ground about three to four feet high!  First thought is that it’s from a broken main, but that is not the case at all.  It is an example of soil liquifaction.[1]

Soil liquifaction is the process of groundwater being forced up out of the ground at great pressure as a result of violent earthquakes.  It works something like this: 

If the earth is saturated with water, each bit of dirt kind of “floats” in this muddy muck composed of dirt and water.  As the mixture is shaken, the heavier dirt “falls” down due to gravity; or the earthquake compresses the mixture as the dry soil above compresses the mixture like a piston.  These force the soil in the mixture to compact, and the water is forced upward out of the mixture.  Given enough pressure and the existence of a small fracture to the surface, the water gushes out of the earth forming a fountain.  The entire process is kind of like squeezing water out of a sponge.  One can demonstrate soil liquifaction in the laboratory.

But what really struck me about this earthquake video was how it corresponded with what The Bible says in Genesis 7:10-11:

And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth.  In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

I have long wondered what the words “the fountains of the deep were broken up” meant.  They made no sense.  I can easily comprehend “the windows of heaven” as torrential downpours, but water fountains squirting out of the ground?  What is happening?

Now I understand clearly:  The Bible is describing the process of soil liquifaction due to severe earthquakes.  This is just another example of the incredibly precise scientific accuracy of the Bible!

But the passage brings to mind another puzzling question:  How did Moses, the author of Genesis, know about soil liquifaction?

After all, he was a shepherd living in the desert where water is a scarcity and earthquakes are a rarity.  It’s highly unlikely that he experienced anything like this before.  If he were writing Genesis out of his own experience, he would have just written about “the windows of heaven” (rain) falling for forty days to create The Flood, but he would have said nothing about soil liquifaction – a comparatively rare event.

So I must conclude that the words of Genesis were provided to Moses by someone who knew about these kinds of things; someone who saw them happen.  Who could that be?  Noah could not have seen them because he and his family were safely locked up in the ark.  Every other human who could have possibly witnessed the phenomenon in the time of Noah perished long, long ago.  Therefore it had to be some other source.  It must be none but the one true God who created The Flood to begin with; the same God who gave the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

After all, can you imagine God and Moses simply sitting on Mt. Sinai silently looking at each other for 40 days without communicating?  I can’t.  What would they talk about?  It certainly wouldn’t take God 40 days to write two tablets of stone when He created the entire Universe in six days!  Would it not be reasonable to postulate that God was expounding on the Ten Commandments and “dictating” the book of Genesis to Moses so Moses could commit it all to memory and subsequently write it down precisely as dictated?  …just another small example illustrating of how The Bible is God breathed.

All is not as it looks.


[1] Unfortunately I was unable to locate that particular piece of footage on the Internet, but did find several other examples of soil liquifaction.   Here are two good ones:

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