Apocalypses now: Modern science and biblical miracles. The Boyle Lecture 2018

Mark Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

I explore an intriguing area that has crept under the radar of today’s science-and-theology conversation, namely scientific studies of the big miracle and catastrophe stories of the Bible (e.g. Noah’s flood, or the plagues of Egypt). These studies have proposed naturalistic explanations for some of the most spectacular and unlikely of the biblical miracles. While the scientists believe their naturalistic interpretations represent a major advance in understanding the stories, professional biblical scholars show little interest, or are openly disdainful. I will point out the striking parallels with the foundational ‘catastrophism-uniformitarianism’ controversy in nineteenth-century geology, and will suggest that the debate also takes us towards a novel kind of natural theology when we consider the biblical miracle and catastrophe texts. Here, the spectacular scientific explanations do not deny the miraculous character of the biblical stories so much as provide a uniquely modern purchase on their transcendent quality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1036-1050
Issue number4
Early online date21 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Miracle
  • catastrophe
  • Exodus
  • apocalypse
  • naturalistic explanation
  • biblical studies
  • uniformitarianism
  • catastrophism
  • hermeneutics


Dive into the research topics of 'Apocalypses now: Modern science and biblical miracles. The Boyle Lecture 2018'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • The Boyle Lecture

    Mark Harris (Invited speaker)

    7 Feb 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Public lecture/debate/seminar

Cite this