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TUESDAY, MAY 6, 200815 years ago
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Astronomical Lunacy

English scientists have succeeded in cracking the code of an ancient clay tablet that was discovered about 150 years ago. Over the years all attempts to read the cuneiform symbols have been unsuccessful-until now, that is. According to the code crackers, the tablet records the sightings of an ancient Sumerian astronomer. They take his description of a "white stone bowl approaching" to refer to an asteroid that in his words "vigorously swept along." The scientists have produced a theory-and, yes, the inevitable book!-that details how the asteroid wreaked havoc over a wide area. According to one of the researchers, it was likely to have crashed into the Austrian Alps at Köfels. As it travelled close to the ground it would have left a trail of destruction from supersonic shock waves and then slammed into the Earth with a cataclysmic impact. Debris consisting of up to two thirds of the asteroid would have been hurled back along its route and a flash reaching temperatures of 400C (752F) would have been created, killing anyone in its path. About one million sq km (386,000 sq miles) would have been devastated and the impact would have been equivalent to more than 1,000 tons of TNT exploding.

So far this is just another story from the ancient past that will generate little interest beyond some academic journals-hardly the riveting stuff that makes a book a best seller. But then the researchers injected a note of controversy. They said that at least 20 ancient myths record devastation of the type and on the scale of the asteroid's impact, including the Old Testament tale of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Ancient Greek myth of how Phaeton, son of Helios, fell into the River Eridanus after losing control of his father's sun chariot. If you want to transform a bit of boring academic research into a best seller, just bring the Bible into it and take the chance to debunk one of its best known records into a "tale" on the same level as the stories of Greek mythology.

But the entire theory is impossible. The men who cracked the code to read the Sumerian tablet used computers to arrive at the date the ancient astronomer saw his "white stone bowl." They arrived at June 29 in the year 3123BC. That was well over a thousand years before Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees; even longer before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. So whatever the ancient Sumerian saw, it had nothing to do with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible record is no mere "tale." It is the sober history of the visitation of divine wrath on the cities of the plain. Of course, men would like to remove all record of God's wrath and put everything down to asteroids or other accidents of nature. However, no matter how hard they try, their efforts are in vain. The ancient record of the destruction of Sodom and her sister cities on account of their sin is a necessary reminder to careless sinners in our day that God is still the righteous Judge of all the earth.

To deny God's word for a clay tablet from another country at another time is a monumental error. To replace His wrath with the accidental destruction caused by an asteroid is astronomical lunacy.

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