A skeptic once opined about the so-called problem of miracles, saying that “enlightened” thinkers doubt the Bible’s supernatural events such as “the whale miracle.” But which whale miracle did he reject? Was he thinking of Jonah being swallowed at sea yet living to tell the tale of the “great fish”?1 Some assumptions need examination because there’s more than one whale miracle to consider.
What was miraculous about Jonah’s experience? Some say the miracle was God’s preservation of Jonah’s life while he was inside the beast, comparing this to how Christ miraculously defeated death after His crucifixion. In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ compared His own death, burial, and resurrection to Jonah’s miraculous adventure.2 Surely God is powerful enough to accomplish both feats in three days.
Others, reviewing details of Jonah’s adventure (e.g., use of the Hebrew word sheol), suggest that Jonah actually died inside the animal, so they think the miracle was God’s restoration of Jonah’s mortal life.3 Obviously, the resurrection of a human swallowed by a whale is a miracle that skeptics would quickly shy away from.
But what other whale miracles are there to consider? Could miracles be hidden in plain view?
Well, the very existence and activities of whales are miracles that began on Day 5 of the creation week and continue today.4 Consider these basic facts of blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) biology. These whales have sensitive underwater hearing that detects other whales’ wailing and screeching songs from miles away, thick blubber that insulates their vital organs from cold seawater, blowholes that open to receive oxygen and close when submerged, and a “floating” rib cage that prevents lung collapse when they’re deep-diving.4
Female blue whales birth live young in ocean water and nurse the babies from recessed mammary nipples with pressure-ejected milk. Male blue whales’ internally located testes have a countercurrent cooling system that protects their procreative paternal potency (ability to reproduce). Both males and females have flexible vertebral joints to enable their tail movement, and their tail flukes are controlled by a system of tendons and muscles.4
Blue whales use front flippers for maneuvering in ocean water. When water gets into their mouths, their “enormous tongues…press the water out of their mouths between the [baleen] whalebone lamellae, thus filtering the water and retaining the minute organisms” they feed on such as krill.5 And many more amazing design details make whale life possible for every whale in the world.4-6
Our skeptic friend questioned biblical events because of their miraculous nature, yet he was overlooking the many miracles of creation that surround him. For those with eyes to see it, every whale is a miracle of God, showing God’s power and bioengineering genius. No wonder David Coppedge said this about blue whale wonders: “The more details you learn about living things, the less excuse you have to chalk it up to evolution.”7
Surely Jonah would agree.
- We don’t know which sea creature swallowed Jonah, but the whale is a strong possibility.
- “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).
- Morris, J. D. 1993. Did Jonah Really Get Swallowed by a Whale? Acts & Facts. 22 (12). See also McGee, J. V. 1997. Jonah: Dead or Alive? Nashville, TN: Thru the Bible Radio Network, 13-17; Morris, H. M. 2006. Notes for Jonah 1:17; 2:2; 2:5-6. The Henry Morris Study Bible. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1318-1320.
- “The gradual evolution of a whale [from land mammal to walking whale to oceanic cetacean] is an impossibility, in the same way that a Land Rover could not gradually turn into a submarine. The whale is designed for aquatic life.” Shires, D. 2019. The Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)—Did it evolve? Journal of the Creation Science Movement. 20 (6): 4-5.
- Murray, J. and J. Hjort. 1912. The Depths of the Ocean. London: Macmillan, 778.
- Regarding whale song, see Welch, C. Elusive Blue Whale Behavior Revealed by Their Songs. National Geographic. Posted on nationalgeographic.com February 15, 2018; Stafford, K. et al. 2018. Extreme diversity in the songs of Spitsbergen’s bowhead whales. Biology Letters. 14 (4): 20180056; Payne, R. S. and S. McVay. 1971. Songs of Humpback Whales. Science. 173 (3997): 585-597.
- Coppedge, D. 2018. Underwater Troubadours. Creation Matters. 23 (2): 8-11.
* Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.