Question: How do we know that a biblical event such as the parting of the Red Sea actually happened?
Answer: As with all events that occur outside of our own experience, we simply do not know—nor shall we ever know for sure. We merely apply faith to our sources of information. All persons, whether or not they believe in God, constantly apply faith. How so particularly?
When watching the nightly news, we exercise faith that the networks are broadcasting footage of actual events. When we read a magazine, we exercise faith that the facts which support their articles are true. When we read a history book, we exercise faith that such civilizations existed, that such wars occurred and that such people ruled. In like manner, when we read the Bible, we exercise faith that it too reports accurately. Why then do people-of-the-world apply less faith to God’s word—a work which has been studied, tested and proved for thousands of years—than to a magazine, which lives mere months from inception to the recycle bin? The world has become such a shallow place that its people no longer speak the language of depth.
So, even though we could provide apologetics-based answers to questions like: Are there any corroborating histories to the Bible’s account of the Red Sea deliverance? Is there physical land-form evidence of the miracle? Have there been reports of other such phenomena anywhere else? The real question remains: What are the evidences worth? The case for Noah’s flood is instructive.
I’ve read many analyses of the soil deposits which speak to a global flood, but credible scientists line up on both sides, some supporting the biblical record and others explaining it away. The empirical evidence abounds, but interpretations of the empirical differ—a phenomenon that Paul describes in Romans.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:18–21, ESV)
The question is not, does any information exist? It is rather, what do people do with their information? According to Romans 1:18-20, God thinks there's enough data. So, the problem is not with God. He is not stingy with revelation. The problem is that people choose sin over truth, and we shall never win such people over with archaeological data. They need to respond to the convicting pressure of God’s Holy Spirit, and we need to increase our prayers for their salvation.
The nature of faith is that we live a positive life based on the facts that God gave us for such life: Salvation through Christ, illumination through the Holy Spirit, his written word, and the revelation of himself in creation. We who belong to God interpret soil deposits and artifacts from a Christian point of view, but our point of view does not mean that the empirical evidence is necessarily linked to the biblical event, any more than the world’s point of view proves that it is not. The world of physical evidences might prove interesting to some Christians, but it is a quagmire—and an unnecessary war for people-of-faith.
Do not misunderstand me, I love apologetics! And I believe that its application builds a more solid faith…but it is a quite secondary skill. A prayerful, plain, and direct reading of God’s word is the primary and necessary activity for Christian people. That being said, I routinely recommend Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict for people who are interested in apologetics topics. That volume covers many typical archaeological questions. It is both an apologetics primer and a nearly encyclopedic reference for common Christian topics. For a deeper view of the apologetics arguments, try Douglas Groothuis' tome, Christian Apologetics. Groothuis (Ph.D. philosophy) shows the congruency of the Christian world view through secular philosophy. This is the most complete work of its type that I have ever used.
I also recommend RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries). Dr. Zacharias and his team minister to us all by defending the Christian faith at the higher levels of discussion such as may be found at university and the world of philosophical thought, publication and conversation. Find them at http://www.rzim.org/. See also Christian apologist Dr. William Lane Craig at Reasonable Faith http://www.reasonablefaith.org/william-lane-craig. Such people as these (and there are more) help to counter the popular conception that Christians are more fundamentalists than reasonable persons.
In conclusion, we have a world of information at our fingertips—and I mean literally! So, we do not suffer from lack of data...in fact, we’re smothered by it. Our task, therefore, is to sift through everything, but to do our own thinking. It's okay to use secular sources like text books, journals, and those (ostensibly) scientific documentary television shows. But understand that a materialistic world view skews their objectivity, so always test their contexts and recheck their data. But most importantly, never accept their conclusions without review. Why not? Because their conclusions often stray from the science part of science and drift into philosophy and opinion. They have theirs, so here's mine.
Our universe was created by God, and he continues to work in it. Additionally, he left us an infallible work, telling us everything we need to know. It is called the Bible. Yes, this opinion is certainly informed by my Christian world view, but it is not purely subjective. I believe that of all the world views, the Christian world view is the one that best explains what we commonly observe, be it at the furthest edge of the universe or at the closest secret thought.