Arrow-right Camera

Arts & Entertainment

Popular Mechanics: Nativity Star A Nova

SATURDAY, DEC. 21, 1996

Popular Mechanics easily wins the prize for December’s goofiest cover story: ” Science Solves Correspondent the Ancient Mysteries of the Bible.”

“With the help of high-tech methods, including radar-imaging, computer simulation and chemical analysis,” writes Mike Fillon, scientists are showing that “what the Bible’s authors interpreted as miracles may have been phenomena of nature.”

Take Lot’s wife. In Genesis, she turned into a pillar of salt when she sneaked a peek at God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the Popular Mechanics version, Mrs. Lot drowned when an earthquake caused those sinful cities to collapse into the Dead Sea. Later, what Lot observed was “not his wife transformed into a pillar of salt but a woman-sized block of salt on the newly formed beach.”

The magazine “explains” one Bible story after another. The star of Bethlehem? “Most likely a nova.” Lazarus rising from the dead? He had been in “a coma or a catatonic state.” The burning bush? Moses saw a “natural gas seep that was ignited by lightning.”

Maybe. But somehow the gospel according to Popular Mechanics lacks that certain je ne sais quoi that gave the good ol’ Good Book its crowd-pleasing panache.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Peter Carlson The Washington Post

Click here to comment on this story »