
Joseph
Francis Alward

One of the
greatest Bible skeptics of all time was Joseph Wheless, who in 1926
wrote, Is It God's Word. In Chapter Four^{ }of that
book, Wheless 78
years ago described the mathematical impossibilities in the story of Yahweh's
quails:
Now a wind
went out from the LORD and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them down
all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day's
walk in any direction. All that day
and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. (Numbers 11:3132)
As you will see in the table below, Wheless methodically leads the reader
through the mathematics, and show us how many square miles, square feet, and
cubic feet of quails there must have been, estimates the volume of each quail,
calculates how many quails there were, then divides by the number of people and
the number of minutes available to gather the quails to calculate how many
quails each person would have to have gathered each minute, without resting for
36 hours.
More than
seven decades later, Farrell Till, former Church of Christ minister, and former
atheist editor of The Skeptical
Review, and owner of the email biblical errancy discussion
list, iierrancy,^{3}
sent a post to his forum in which he led the
members through an analysis in which he, too, calculated the number of quails
each person would have to have gathered each minute, without resting for 36
hours. Till did not inform his readers
that this analysis had already been done long ago by Wheless, who apparently is
the only one on record as having performed it in the 73 years prior to Till's
calculation.
The post I
refer to is one Till sent to his errancy forum under the thread name,
"Yahweh's Quails," dated Thursday, 20 May 1999.
Readers will note that Till follows the same line of reasoning as did Wheless, except that he uses different estimates of the relevant quantities.
Joseph
Wheless (1926) 
Farrell
Till (1999) 
A
biblical "day's journey," according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, is
44,815 meters (1 meter is 39.37 inches, or 1.1 yards), which equals 49,010
yards, 27.8 miles 
Eerdmans Bible Dictionary states that a day's journey was a distance of 2025 miles and quotes Josephus as a reference to support this figure (1987, p. 267). Note: Just as Wheless did, Till opens his argument with a citation about "a day's journey." 
for
the sake of a minimum of miracle, and therefore of strain on faith, 
To
give as much benefit of the doubt as
possible to the biblical story, 
[I
will assume] that this stack of quails began close to the four sides of the
camp and extended for 27.8 miles in every direction Uses smaller distance. 
I will use the lower estimate of 20 miles in my calculations Uses smaller distance, too. 
The
quails were stacked up "two cubits high" for a distance of "a
day's journey round the camp." 
the quails fell to a depth of two cubits (about one yard) for a day's journey Stacked two cubits high over a day's journey. 
As
to the space occupied, one quail, packed tight by the weight of the mass,
might be compressed into about 3 inches of space each way, which would amount
to 27 cubic inches of space per quail, 
A quail is not a large bird, so if one quail occupied an area 5 inches by 5 inches by 5 inches or 125 cubic inches Volume of quail is estimated 
4425.76
square miles of quails piled 44 inches high. 
1250
square miles covered with three feet
of quails Number of square miles, two cubits high 
64
quails to the cubic foot 
373
quails in each cubic yard Number of quails per volume 
28,953,902,579,712
quails 
1,155,404,800
quails Total number of quails 
Every
soul of the 2,414,200 of the "hosts of Yahveh" therefore had the
liberal allowance of 11,993,167 quails 
385,000 quails for every man, woman, child, and infant in the Israelite horde [of] 3 million Israelites Number of quails for each person 
"
all that day, and all that night, and all the next day" [is 36 hours] 
working the entire 36 hours implied in "all that day and all the night and all the next day," Assumes sunrise to sunset the next day. 
gather
up, each one, 335,366 quails per hour 
gather 10,698 quails per hour 
5589
quails every minute, 
178
quails per minute Quails per minute 
and
no time to eat, or sleep, or sacrifice, or die, Wheless assumes; Bible doesn't say this. 
with
no time off for rest
