So, for you guys on Eric’s Bible e-mailer, did you read today’s? Is it just bizarre or what? I just wanted to post some observations.
Psalm 148:4. So I learned in high school that the way ancient peoples conceived of the universe was that there was sky, but then above the sky there was a layer of water. I don’t know if this was what was called firmament or not. But that’s what they believed. And then, from time to time, the water falls from the higher layer of water, to here. That’s rain.
So, that really helps understand a lot of passages, such as Genesis, where it talks about God separating water from water with sky (Gen 1:6-8), and I think passages in Noah, or whatever, where it talks about stuff like that, or the floodgates opening, or whatever. And this passage.
So what I’m about to write I think I might scare people, but I really hope I don’t. And feel free to slam me, if you feel that’s necessary.
Anyway, I hope this isn’t too heretical, but that’s why I don’t take the Bible to be an authority on science and nature. I just don’t think that was God’s intention for it. Like, some people take the Bible to be not just spiritually authoritative, but scientifically or physically authoritative as well. Like, you may have read Inherit the Wind, based on the Scopes monkey trial. Anyway, their insistence that the physical world exists exactly as the Bible describes just leads to some difficult to defend positions.
So, like, if you really take the Bible to be a scientific authority, then you get into these weird positions where you have to believe that there’s a layer of water above the earth. I don’t know, I guess you could do some mental gymnastics to support that, but that’s just the point – you have to do these mental gymnastics, and that seems strange to me.
Anyway, I know this gets into the slippery slope thing again. Like, if the Bible isn’t an authority on physical things, could it be that it’s not an authority on spiritual things either? And that’s a danger; it’s easier to stick on one side or the other – the Bible is the authority on everything, or nothing. But in my mind, like with a lot of things, I do believe the truth lies somewhere in between, that it’s not the absolute authority on physical things, but it is on spiritual things.
At any rate, I really don’t believe God intended the Bible to be a physical authority. I think He gave us the Bible to give us spiritual truths, not physical ones. I mean, if it were meant to be, can you imagine how much work it would have been? So He would have had to tell whoever wrote Genesis that, actually, it’s not a layer of water above the earth, but a process called evaporation, in which water becomes vapor form, and the “atmosphere,” which is actually a mix of “gases,” contains in part water vapor. When the “atmosphere” is sufficiently “saturated” with water vapor, in combination with other effects, it rains. That’s just to explain rain. Their understanding of the world would have just taken too much work to get it accurate. And that’s not the point. And at any rate, we have no way of knowing whether how we believe things to be are fully “accurate” either. So, I think God intended that we understand the physical world to the level that we are able, and that the Bible not be intended to explain all physical truths, but spiritual ones. Otherwise, the spiritual truths would have gotten lost in the details.
So, here’s where I get controversial. But my claim is that with certain parts of the Bible, all that matters is the point, and it’s important not to lose sight of that. So like with the start of Genesis, to me, I think the point is that God did indeed create the world, that He did it deliberately, and that He saw that creation was good. To me, it doesn’t really matter whether it happened in 6 literal days, or how exactly that process worked. I mean, I think it could have happened in a lot of different ways. And I think it’s possible it could have happened in 6 literal days. There’s no reason why it couldn’t have. But there’s no reason why it had to have, either. Because in my mind, it doesn’t matter; that’s not the point of the passage.
So, like I said, it’s kind of dangerous, and you can slam me if you want. Because I guess what I’m saying is that I’m not a strict literalist. I don’t even know the definitions of literalists, so I probably am a literalist on one level. But in terms of saying that every single word in the Bible is literally true, such that you have to believe there’s a layer of water above the sky, that I’m not. I’m not saying that it’s not true. I’m ust saying that it doesn’t have to be true. Because that’s not the point.
I don’t know, again, slam me if you want, but in my opinion, strict literalists mark things as essential that really aren’t. So, if the creation accounts in Genesis isn’t literally true, then their faith is shattered. I don’t know, that just doesn’t seem right to me. That’s not the essence of Christianity. And yeah, it may be easier to be extreme then hold a slippery slope, but again, I really think the truth is not at that extreme. I guess I’m just not in favor of keeping your head in the sand just because what you consider an essential part of your faith can’t acknoweldge things around you. And I’m against having a faith that’s so fragile that things that are relatively inconsequential could threaten to shatter it. Anyway, you know, in Galileo’s time, it was essential that people believe the earth was at the center of the universe. But history has shown that that’s not really an essential belief of Christianity at all.
Sorry for rambling. Sorry especially for the heresy. But that whole water above the sky verse just reminded me of some thoughts.
Dude, Psalm 149:6 was also funky to me. Can you imagine? People singing high praises of God while they wield two edged swords to “execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples”? I don’t know, the violence just came out of nowhere, and its juxtaposition with the eariler beautiful musical imagery is just bizarre to me. It starts beautifully, then moves towards violence and judgment, and then ends, “Praise the Lord!” Weird.
And, sorry for rambling, but the 1 Corinthians passage is kind of weird to me also. People were getting drunk from the Lord’s Supper! Wacky wacky stuff. And people died from taking it. Whoa. I don’t know, it’s just interesting to me, because it seems like they treated it as a meal, not just a small piece of Sara Lee Pound Cake and a sip of grape juice.
Before I die, I want to work with/for Eric Mao. The man is simply amazing, and if anyone were to get a good idea, he could make it work. I just want to be on the bandwagon.