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Wednesday, November 20, 2013
"Science, falsely so called." Part II
"See...it is literally true. It says so right here"
I know what the Bible says very well, from Genesis to Revelation. Most here on Banned do because if it is one thing the WCG experience gave a person, it was an overview of what the characters in the Bible said and believed was so. As I have said recently, my Calvinist upbringing in the Memorial Orthodox Presbyterian Church the first 18 years of my life also gave me quite a background from an early age on what the Bible says and who's who. I was constructing shoebox Tabernacles in the Wilderness and Jerusalem from a very very early age. The typical Sunday consisted of morning church from 10 to 11:30, Sunday School where I learned "Run Sam, Lockup Jack. Dogs Never Get Anything In Zoos, Just Beatings," which informed me how to remember the 12 Tribes of Israel. Sunday evening there was again Church services with "Madchen League" and "Teens" meeting from 8-9 pm. In second grade we were memorizing whole chapters and competing with each other not to make even one mistake in repeating it or we were out. I had to memorize the Westminster Confession of Faith in stages from age 12 to 16. It's what our Dutch parents and ancestors expected of us.
"The confession is a systematic exposition of Calvinist orthodoxy (which neo-orthodox scholars refer to as "scholastic Calvinism"), influenced by Puritan and covenant theology.
It includes doctrines common to most of Christendom such as the Trinity and Jesus' sacrificial death and resurrection, and it contains doctrines specific to Protestantism such as sola scriptura and sola fide. Its more controversial features include double predestination (held alongside freedom of choice), the covenant of works with Adam, the Puritan doctrine that assurance of salvation is not a necessary consequence of faith, a minimalist conception of worship, and a strict sabbatarianism.
Even more controversially, it states that the Pope is the Antichrist, that the Roman Catholic mass is a form of idolatry, that the civil magistrates have divine authority to punish heresy, and rules out marriage with non-Christians. These formulations were repudiated by several bodies which adopted the confession (for instance, the Church of Scotland, though its ministers are still free to adhere to the full confession and some do), but the confession remains part of the official doctrine of some other Presbyterian churches. For example, the Presbyterian Church of Australia holds to the Westminster Confession of Faith as its standard, subordinate to the Word of God, and read in the light of a declaratory statement.""
There was a short version and a longer Catechism. I memorized both. The classic question and the most remembered was..
"Q. What is man's chief end?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever."
It was also one of the shortest answers as the older one got, the longer and longer the answers to complicated questions became.
There are many many passages of scripture that are very encouraging and true to the human experience. "The heavens declare the glory of God..." Scores of chapters in Psalms revealed back then the fears, needs and longings which are not much changed today or we'd not draw comfort and encouragement from them in this crazy world. It's been crazy all my life and I suspect it has always felt so. Many New Testament scriptures are very real and encouraging. Who can not feel what I Corinthians 13 is saying? It is one the most real and true concepts of love ever written. I do have a problem thinking the Apostle Paul wrote it due to his other statements about himself and what he hoped the Jews and those who were Jewish Christians would do to themselves or go, but perhaps the man came to his senses as he aged and faced his own death after a few decades of believing he was among the "we" who would be changed and not see death as the billions before him. "But we see in part..." I like that...
On the other hand, it takes no work and little real thinking it through to just pick and choose scriptures to formulate one's view of life, its meaning and the possibilities "out there." Only in the last 25 years have we been treated to the awareness the Hubble Telescope has brought to us. Our parents and all before them NEVER could conceive of the size, breadth and content of our one Universe. Only in the last 15 years have we come to identify that most of it is made up of dark matter and energy. We can now know where and stars are formed and still being formed as we speak. They are also dying or we'd not be here. It is awesome. Just awesome.
The Pillars of Creation-Hubble Telescope
Like it or not. Agree with the conclusions and implications or not, we have learned more about the actual physical origins of ourselves in the last 50 years than in all of previous history. Years ago I had my DNA plotted by the National Geographic Genome Project. I know the route my ancestors took out of Africa , across the Red Sea at Yemen, up into Iraq, East through Anatolia, into the Balkans and a passage through the Himalayans to the steppes of Russia with a hard left 35,000 years ago into Europe. My Y chromosome identify me as a member of the halogroup R1b and has the marker called M168. It's in my spit and every cell of my body and tells a tale no Bible ever could. I am a few percent Neanderthal as well which is really awesome...no wisecracks!
News hominid discovery in situ. Damanisi, Georgia and not the one South of South Carolina.
This, while meaningful if one does not assign it meaning it never meant, is not the same as...
Actually doing the hard work of learning.
...is not the same as
No one can really test the claims made of many things spoken of in scripture. These are matters of faith. Remember how one of the great ways to "prove me now herewith"? If you tithed, the windows of heaven would open up for you so that you could not contain it. Really? That was just not my or anyone I know, actual daily life experience. Proving God by getting more money back than you gave seems childish to me. Sounds like a Priestly thing and not an actual God thing. Giving money to Priests or Ministers seems a suspicious proof of God to me. We all know the answer when you notice it does not quite work that way in reality , or as King David said, "in my house it was not so." "It's YOU that is the problem. You don't have faith. Send in more."
One can never actually know who really did or did not say what they are said to have said or not said in the Bible. These also are matters of faith. We can't really know what an Abraham or Moses said or did thousands of years ago. I am incline not to believe those today who tell me God told them such and such. I don't even know what my Grandfather actually said or did in his life. Their sayings are what the Priests who wrote the books imagined they would have said in such stories.
In the New Testament, it is well understood that no one actually wrote down what Jesus said alone in the Garden to God in prayer or who was told the contents of Pilate's wife's personal dream about Jesus. It is what the author imagined Jesus or the wife would say in such a case. The long winded and detailed speeches in John and Acts were not faithfully reproduced as if they had been recorded and then transcribed. It was a COMMON writing style in Greek to write what an author imagined the character would have said in such a situation. It is not a word for word possibility. Thus what Jesus said in John 13-17, read every year at Passover by some, is what the author of John imagined Jesus would say. No one wrote it down , had the means or the time to do so and would have gotten it that correct. No other Gospel writer ever heard on word of it or put it in their version of the story. Try it the next time the President gives a speech. When the martyr Stephen launches in to a long history of Israel before he is stoned to death, it is what the author imagined a Stephen would have said in such a situation to make the points needed to write the Book of Acts. Same for Paul, Peter and others. Notice the Book of Mark. "Mark" NEVER said, "and then Jesus and I went to..." or "and then Jesus told me..." The book is not written as an eyewitness account. None of them are. They were "Gospels" and there were scores written that did not make the cut.
While not my upbringing or understanding as a child, every "thus saith the Lord," or "And God said.." is what an author imagined God would say. When that approach wore a bit thin you find many places in the Psalms where the writer laments not hearing clearly the voice of God and wondering "why art thou so afar off?" Whoever wrote the Book of Job did not record verbatim the exact conversation God had with Job or the three friends had with him. It is a literary style no different than Neil Walsch's Conversations with God ,which I read in my final years of ministry and found absolutely refreshing and inspiring. Written by a human about humans things as they relate to God, quoting God's answers, nonetheless, written by a human. There is no reason that, if this series is discovered 1000 years from now, it could not become a religion complete with a Holy Book full of awesome answers to the blunt questions of life as said by God himself/herself. The Bible evolved the same way just over a longer time with many more authors, who did not write harmoniously and in many cases did not check what others had said so they would not contradict it.
I have my own Bible of 45 years complete with all the COG and AC notes about the meaning and where else to jump to find confirmation other books of my Bible. I have two pages in Isaiah with the words "Dad..remember pre-teen basketball tonight" written in permanent marker across the pages by my young son. I have my dad's Bible with a footnote that says, "Worldwide Church of God terminates Dennis" in it with the date. Dad also footnoted "Matthew dies . Hit by train" on a back page. I still find meaning in the Bible but am careful about assigning meanings it never meant to mean. Is that so hideous? Is it so terrible to study and learn or grow in both a kind of grace and knowledge that Book challenges humans to grow in? Did anyone really ever or actually grow in such grace and knowledge? Some are proud of their new found Grace which they grew into but what about Knowledge? Does all human knowledge have to fit into the already stated ideas of a book thousands of year old or it is not true? Is it really intelligent to believe Genesis 1-3 is literally true and then try to fit all of the real discoveries of human origins into that story? Is that not why we end up with fantastic tales of Nephilim, Annanuki and dinosaurs on the Ark? Isn't that why we ask "then where are the dinosaurs that got off the Ark?" Is it not why we force God into the gaps until that gap is filled and he is forced out? Is that now why some tell you that Adam and Eve , OF COURSE DUH (as they sound) were not the first humans. They were the first "SINLESS" humans. Really?
Is it not better to separate the purpose of the Bible, which is rarely the purpose literalists give it, from the facts as we know them? Genesis 1-3 has a great Hebrew and Israelite purpose as defined by the Priests who wrote it, but it is not to confirm in an ancient way what we know to be more correct literally today.
In every class, in massage anatomy, I taught students that we had "twelve pair of ribs. Ten are attached from the spine to the sternum and two pairs of floaters attached only to the spine." I even showed them how a punch to the floaters could leave you in a curled up pain ridden mess on the floor if you knew just where to strike since organs don't like getting slapped by floaters. Every time I got to that point, a student, always a girl, raised her hand and said, "But men have one less rib right?" I assured here I knew where she was coming from but said "No, that's just a story." One got incensed and told me she was going to tell her dad. I told her to have him get in touch. Still waiting. He probably had to explain Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy to her at that time as well.
The Bible has profound insights and genuine meaning in many places. My challenge is to separate the genuine and meaningful from the hideous and silly. It has all those elements because authors bent on explaining their world have all those ways of explaining things in their minds. Nothing new under the sun and all that. It's not difficult for us to see that today in a Gerald Flurry, Dave Pack, Ron Weinland, James Malm, EWKing or a Bob Thiel where we can decide for ourselves if they have anything important or remotely true to share and teach. I personally have voted no on all of them. You can vote no on me too if you wish. Others vote some and still others, but fewer, vote a complete YES! Just because a personality or author wrote thousands of years ago does not make them immune from The Clarion Call or ideas about themselves as found in the Book of Haggai. It's just easier to spot today.
The Bible does have a place for us in our culture. The problem is that far too many make it mean what it never meant or was meant to mean.
While I don't wish to fight about it, I do understand there needs to be a separation between facts and fiction.
“I personally don’t care what people want to believe—this country was founded on religious freedoms. . . I don’t have any issue what you do in the church, but I’m gonna be up in your face if you’re gonna knock on my science classroom and tell me that they gotta teach what you teach in your Sunday school, because that’s when we’re gonna fight.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Physicist and Teacher