Splashing around in theology.

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Location: Ottawa, Canada

I read lots. I have a cat. I drink coffee. Therefore, I am.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

God or Nothing

I ended my last blog [yesterday] by saying, “I want to talk a little bit about some interesting things surrounding the mention of the heavens in the Bible, and maybe say a bit about what I think of Balbus’s contention that the world must have been made for us since only we can appreciate it.”
The heavens fascinate me.
I love a starry night.
This is why I have a gigantic print of Van Gogh’s painting of the same name, on the main wall of my apartment.
What I want to mention today are a couple things almost in the realm of mere trivia. I am not postulating any grandiose theological conclusions or anything. Just pointing out a couple of things I notice in the Bible, as regards mention of the heavens.

The gist of where I am going with this is simply that if the Bible is the Word of God [and I am not arguing one way or the other on this]… but if it is the very Word of God and not tainted by human ignorance or mere human speculation, then when it mentions the heavens, we would expect it to be accurate about things only God would know.
Do you follow what I am saying here?
For instance, if the Bible said somewhere that the earth is in orbit around the moon, when in fact later scientific data reveals that the opposite is true, that the moon orbits the earth, then I think it would be fair to conclude that the original biblical writing [the autograph] was the result of the musing of ancient minds, rather than information passed from God to man, [ie, from God to writer of text].
The only other option for consideration is that God [the Transmitter of Things Only He Could Know], when inspiring the biblical writers, deliberately spoke down to them, in other words, spoke to mankind only at a level they could currently grasp. In other words, endorsed their current scientific ignorance.

Two scriptural examples come to my mind, as I muse upon these possiblities. [I know there are many many more examples that could be discussed. If you recall any, please let me know, in the comments section of this blog]. My examples argue for each possibility.
The first passage I mention seems to suggest that God in fact did reveal something beyond the writer’s own intelligence level.

Isaiah 40:21-22 says, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.”

Isaiah here says that God is camped out in this area “above the circle of the earth” and I find this terminology interesting. Like I said at the start, I do not want to make some sort of theology out of this, I am just merely pointing out that it does seem that Isaiah is saying something that only God could know. At the time of writing, mankind certainly had no concept of the curvature of the earth, much less its actual spherical overall shape.

However, the second of my examples is quite different. It seems to suggest that the writer had been granted very little inside information about celestial things.
It is from Joshua 10:12-13. There was a great battle going on….
“On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel:
‘O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the valley of Aijalon.’
So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jasher.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.”

So the sun stood still. It stopped in the middle of the sky.
No it didn’t!
What I mean is that even if this story actually happened, this is not the way in which the actual events would have shaken down, simply because it is not the sun that moves around the earth, but the earth that moves around the sun. In other words, if anything, the earth would have stopped moving, to grant Joshua more time to brutally slaughter people.
My point being…. “Does God not know this?”
And if he does, then how can we believe that he inspired peope to write this?
All I am saying is that this is an obvious example of the human element drastically poking its way through what is so commonly perceived as the literal Word of God.

So, I present the above two examples, the best examples I can think of, to argue each position.

Now, what of Balbus’s claim that the world must have been created for us since only we can appreciate it?
Amazingly, here on April 2nd, 2006, I think that there is some merit to that statement. [I cite the current date, because my thoughts are in constant flux. That is to say, they change.]
In order to approach why I think it has any merit, I think I would have to go further back, to say a bit about WHO or WHAT God is to me.
[This question has been asked of me, rather frequently, as of late].
I have not come across a better sort of description of who or what God might be, than that of the theologian Paul Tillich, who calls God “The Ground of All Being.”
I like that.
To explain what Tillich is meaning by his use of the phrase would require the writing of books. That is why there are so many books on the topic.
But suffice it to say that the way I put it, is that God, to me, is EXISTENCE!
In this sense, God is what would be here, if we weren’t.
I do not believe in the premise [often argued] that we (mankind) have created God. However, I do believe that we have created things about God.
Yes, most definitely we have done this latter thing.

For now, let me just pose the following question to you.
What would exist, were we not here to ask the question, “What exists?”?

My own current answer to that question is “God.”
And the fact that we do exist, [as opposed to the possibility of not existing] makes me even more sure of that answer, not less.
Some would say, “What you are saying, Cipriano, still does not address the most relevant aspect of Balbus’s original statement, the part where it says ‘for us’”!
But I think it does address it.
If God is truly the Ground of All Being, then God is the source of all that is.
In other words, whatever is, exists because it has been deemed to exist.
“Deemed” by wh
o or what?
By Existen
Existence [read “God”] was fully aware that we would be the only sentient beings able to appreciate existence.

We must realize [I think] that there are only two possible answers to the question, posed above: What would exist, were we not here to ask the question, “What exists?”?
And those answers are either:
A) God. [The God who transcends our every human effort to describe. This includes the Christian effort. The God that every world religion has fallen short of knowing in fullness.]
B) Nothing.

To me, even the mere fact that you are reading this blog makes B) an impossiblity.

Later, alligators.



Blogger sanyavich said...

Just acouple of points Cip.
It was know by the east Indian culture that the earth was indeed round 2000 b.c. My source is a show on the origins of one.
And recently some leading scientist came together to disuss some things they believe but cannot prove.One of those things is that cockroaches are sentient. I know how absurd but it was not all that long ago that races of humans where considered to be animals.

4/03/2006 6:06 AM  

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