Bible

Tower of Babel: Fact or Fiction?

Off the keyboard of Stuck in NJ

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Published on The Burning Platform on September 20, 2013

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PROLOGUE

Along with The Arky Arky and the Great Flood, the Tower of Babel is one of the best known bible stories.

But it is famous beyond its ACTUAL content … a mere 236 words (in English). Yet, the story has come to mean much more than its actual words. For example, the idea that God is so afraid of tall brick structures that he has to create multiple languages to keep people from becoming too smart for their own good.

Most have at least a vague idea of what the story is about, or at least know the name “Babel”. But, let’s take a look at the entire brief text. I will follow-up with my usual outrageous observations.

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THE BIBLICAL TEXT — GENESIS 11:1-9
“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”

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BACKGROUND

The Babel story is a great example why a literal interpretation of many OT stories makes no sense whatsoever. A literal interpretation makes a mockery of science, tortures logic, and detracts from the author’s actual spiritual meaning (if any) he intended to impart.

Genesis is a narrative dealing with “beginnings,” as its title indicates. It records the beginning of the universe, plant life, animal life, and even mankind. Hence, one is tempted to apply a literal interpretation that the primary lesson of the Babel passage is the record of how human beings began to speak different languages. This is incorrect, as you will soon see.

That being said, “Babel” may very well be a story of beginnings. The city “Babel,” is the same exact term used of “Babylon” elsewhere in the Bible. Indeed, the Tower was built in Mesopotamia, not Israel. So, more than just a possible explanation for the confusion of languages, it may also function as the etymology of “Babylon” …. the very same Babylonian empire that would wreak tremendous havoc on Israel in sixth century B.C.E. … and the very same Babylon called a “Whore” in Revelation, representing all that is evil, and ultimately destroyed.

Before I get into specifics, it is worth mentioning the origin of the word “Babel”. Strong’s Concordance says the word means “confusion”. That may be true regarding the meaning, but that’s not its etymology. In Hebrew “el” is a name for God … any God, actually. In Ezekiel — “I am el (God), in the seat of elōhîm (Gods). The Hebrews called God El-shaddai (God almighty), ImmanuEL (God with us), and dozens of other “el-” names. The Miriam Webster dictionary gives the following etymology — “Middle English, from Hebrew Bābhel, from Akkadian bāb-ilu, gate”. So, what is Babel? Literally, the Gate of God. So, is it the city that’s called Babel because that’s where God “came down” … as the text says? Or, was the actual tower the people were constructing the “gate of God” … their attempt to “reach to heaven”, or more likely, their attempt to provide a means for God to come down? The text is not clear. So, we’ll leave as interesting speculation.

THE MYTH OF A UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE

And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.”

A literal interpretation presents problems right from the get go. That’s because there has NEVER been One Universal Language spoken by all humanity. However, I don’t wish to debate philology. A fine overview of the origin of languages is here; — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_of_language

Rather, I am much more interested in the status of human language AT THE TIME referred to by the text. Scholars diverge wildly regarding the possible date the Tower of Babel could have been built – anywhere from 3500BC – 2500BC. So, let’s take the earliest possible date (3500BC) and briefly examine the archaeological evidence.

I need only one example. Spirit Cave in Thailand is a stratified site showing human occupation from BEFORE 5000 B.C. We do not know what language they were speaking in what is now Thailand …. but we can be darn sure it was not Sumerian, or Hebrew. Also, an archaeological dig in Pakistan revealed trident-shaped writing on fragments of pottery dating even further back at 5,500 years BC. Pretty sure they weren’t speaking Sumerian or Hebrew either. There, I gave you two examples.

The fact of the matter is the writer of Genesis 11 was oblivious to the existence of the Far East, Australia, the Americas, and pretty much the rest of the world beyond a few hundred miles of his locale. . Had he been aware of these lands, the peoples, and their cultures … which existed AT THE SAME TIME as when The Tower was built …. then he would have had a much better understanding regarding the history of language, and he would NEVER have said “.. the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech”.

Furthermore … and quite significantly … the previous chapter in Genesis, Gen: 10, seems to completely contradict the Babel story. Gen 10 is known as the “Table of Nations”. It lists all the nations that derived from Noah’s sons (Shem, Ham and Japheth) after the flood; Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, dozens of other “ites” and even including Egypt and …. Babylon. No one in their right mind would suggest that ancient Egypt and ancient Babylon spoke the same language. We have written texts from both areas to prove otherwise. So,now we have at least two languages. Of much, much greater significance is the fact that the Bible itself states that once dispersed …. these people spoke “after their tongues”! Let’s be clear about this; the Bible states people spoke in unique tongues BEFORE the construction of the Tower.

Either the author of Chapter 11 was being redundant at best (an unlikely repetition in Chapter 11 of what was just reviewed in Chapter 10), or much more likely, he didn’t know that God ALREADY dispersed the nations … each speaking after their own tongues. That’s quite a conundrum for literalists.

GOD GETS ALL PARANOID, ONCE AGAIN

“ And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower … Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down,”

1)- God says, “let US go down”. Who is this “us”?? Some folks say it is a figure of speech; such as when a British Royal Queen refers to herself as “we”. Unfortunately, there was no British royalty back then … and the royalty that did exist simply didn’t talk that way. But most Christians say God was talking to Jesus in his pre-incarnate form .. cuz Jeebus existed before he was born. I don’t know how to debate time-travel fantasies, so I won’t. The more logical explanation is that the ancient Jews, before they developed monotheism, believed in multiple Gods. Even Abraham’s father worshipped multiple Gods, and almost certainly Abraham was raised by his own father to do likewise (until he didn’t). Many years later, perhaps decades, Rachel was caught hiding the “household idols” inside her camel’s saddle. Then after the Jews escaped Egpyt, one of their first acts was to construct and worship a Golden Calf. However Christians want to interpret this. The fact of the matter is that early Judaism adopted very many of the Gods they left behind, they believed in multiple Gods, amd monotheism actually took centuries to fully develop.

2)- Why does an omniscient, omnipotent God need to “come down” to see anything?? And, where exactly is he coming down from? Does he walk, or take a bus? Theologians call this anthropomorphism; “the attribution of human form or other characteristics to anything other than a human being, such as a God.”. These attributions must be made because no one has ever seen this OT God. Moses came closest, and even then, he only saw God’s “backside” … literally, “ass”. Who said there’s no humor in the Bible? “Anthropomorphism” is just a way of saying; “We make our Gods in MAN’S image.” Have you ever noticed that Western Gods behave just like humans? Especially the Greek and Roman Gods with all their fornication and backstabbing and jealousy and murder. And the OT God who laughs, cries, repents, has massive bouts of anger so much so that he has attempted to wipe out the human race, is often driven to jealous rage, and suffers from severe bouts of paranoid insecurity. We “anthropomorphize” deities because the more the Gods become like men, the easier it is for men to believe in the Gods.

3) Regarding paranoia in the Tower of Babel story —- why would an omnipotent God be so damn afraid of humans [supposedly] speaking one language? Why is he so afraid of humans building a structure that is, at best, about 300 feet high? Why didn’t he strike dead the builders of One World Trade Center who just completed a 1,776 foot skyscraper? Why is God afraid of technological progress? Does God REALLY believe that by having one language that “NOTHING” will be “impossible” for mankind? The implication being that puny finite mankind can (will) overthrow an all-powerful eternal God …. unless their language be confounded. Isn’t this idea just beyond silly, and indicative of massive paranoia?

And this isn’t the first time God exhibited his paranoia. He freaked out when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit …. fearing that mankind is “now like us”. (There’s that ‘us’ again.) Really?? Humans are now like God because they ate some fruit? Shortly thereafter God freaked out again … afraid that Adam and Eve might eat from a tree that would give them eternal life, so he had an angel with a flaming sword drive them out of the Garden to prevent that. Another time God was so freaked out over man’s wickedness that he sent a Great Flood to wipe out all but eight people from the face of the earth …. you know, because this all-powerful God was totally powerless to influence humanity. There are dozens more stories in the OT where God freaks out, and when God freaks out, humans die. A strange and paranoid God.

HOW DID GOD PULL THIS OFF?

Almost always in the reading of God’s miracles, they are almost always simply accepted at face value. The reasoning being that God is All-Powerful, and therefore He can do anything He wants. So, when the Bible states that the planet Earth stopped spinning, or the sun stood still, (so that Joshua could kill more Amorites), well, not one in a hundred Christian readers stops to ask themselves “how in the hell is that even possible without the earth exploding into space in a million fragments?” “More miracles” is the only possible response. But that answers absolutely nothing. Such cop-out explanations are akin to the Hindu idea that the elephant holds up the earth. Someone asks, “What holds up the elephant?” Answer: Another elephant. And so on, ad infinitum, ad absurdum.

So, exactly how did God pull this off? Did folks suddenly and immediately in the blink of an eye start speaking, for example, German? Were they suddenly able to pronounce “umlauts” and that crazy “ch” sound? Did they suddenly and immediately understand the nuances of the German language and realize that one can now end a sentence with a verb? Did they suddenly wear Lederhosen? Language is in the brain, of course, so did God have to “rewire” each and every person’s brain, from 5 year olds to 100 year olds? Key question; did they forget their original language … or were they bilingual, in which case, of course, the people would all STILL have a common language! Lol

WAS CONFOUNDING LANGUAGE A GOOD IDEA?

It doesn’t seem that confounding human language was all that brilliant. SAME language / culture unites … MULTICULTURALISM divides. It is significant to note that up to this point in biblical history, man had not fought against his fellow man other than in conflicts between individuals. There had been no mention of wars, no racial strife, no religious bigotry, no patriotic blood baths. Man had no reason to gang up and attack other groups of men. At that time, man was not at war with his fellow man and all men communicated freely in one tongue. It was this free communication which God knew he must put an end to if he planned on keeping men enslaved. Brilliant!

IS GOD BIPOLAR?

I ask this because thousands of years later in the New Testament book of Acts (2:1-11), God has a totally different agenda. This agenda is the antithesis of Babel … ONE language. This is the narrative. Believers were all in one place and of one accord (just like in Babel). The story even uses the word “confounded”, but for a different reason. This time after having received the Holy Spirit, the apostles preach … and men of diverse languages hear the sermon IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGES. Back in Babel the plan was to separate people, and now in Acts we’re seeing the exact opposite; a great re-integration. Bad one time. Good the next time. I wish God would make up His mind.

It seems that God’s primary reason for “coming down” was not necessarily the Tower structure itself – that was merely the means to an end — but because the people of Babel wanted to “make a name for ourselves”. But, in the very next chapter it is God himself who makes Abraham’s name great. King David spends a good portion of his life making a name for himself (2 Sam 8:13) without any negative repercussions or divine reprisals. It can be really hard to figure out what God really believes / wants.

WHAT LESSON CAN WE LEARN FROM THE TOWER OF BABEL?

Are we really supposed to believe that the Builders of the tower were motivated by building a structure that could reach heaven? How stupid would that be? They built the thing on “the PLAINS of Shinar”. A FLAT plain. There were MOUNTAINS nearby which would have given them a few thousand feet head start. Lol Are we to believe that they thought they could build a structure higher than a mountain? If they really wanted to reach the heavens, wouldn’t they have built the tower on the nearest high mountain? Yes. So, there must have been a different motivation … one we will never know. However, I can speculate on what the writer of the Babel story intended.

We can all certainly agree that the end result in the Tower story is one of division (one of God’s specialties). Let’s take a very brief look at one other major example in how God divides. OK. So, God chooses one race to his people … creating Judaism in the process. God later sends a Messiah to create a second division of his people …. creating Christianity in the process. God then chooses another guy, Mohammed, to create a third division of his people …. creating Islam in the process. And don’t tell me it wasn’t God who did all this. You should know that for ALL three of these divisions, God used the angel Gabriel as the messenger. Of course, these divisions have resulted in the longest and bloodiest conflicts in human history … which continue to this very day.

So, what are we to make of all this?

The 16th century philosopher, Machiavelli, may be able to help understand what is going on. Machiavelli described how a third party could manipulate two other parties … and maintain control over them both. It works like this;

—– 1) The Ruler creates a division amongst the people.

—– 2) The Ruler does this by creating conditions which accentuate the differences between groups. This causes conflict, and so the groups fight amongst themselves rather than against the ruler.

—– 3) The Ruler hides that HE is the cause of the conflicts, going so far as to feign innocence.

—– 4) The Ruler then offers support to ALL parties involved, thus maintaining their loyalty and faith in him.

—– 5) The Ruler is now viewed as The Beneficial One – Machiavelli uses the term “concerned parent” — no matter how bad and evil The Ruler might be in reality. After all, ONLY The Ruler can help bring everyone back together. There is a steep cost, of course. Many will suffer. Few will benefit. But, no one will ever blame The Ruler … which is just the way he likes it.

Now, am I saying that God is some type of Machiavellian monster? No. But, I am saying that that’s how the writers of Scripture often portray Him. Some may not want to hear this, but I am 100% convinced that the various authors of Scripture had no clue whatsoever that they were writing Scripture. There was no voice from heaven thundering “Hezekiah! Grab a pen. Let’s write some Scripture!”. They had no clue that the words they penned would take hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years to be considered “The Word of God” … and even then, only by a fatally flawed procedure of humans voting. The Ancient Sages had even less of a clue as to how the world works, human psychology and all that, but that didn’t stop them from trying to explain it.

So they wrote stuff, lots of stuff … some of it eventually became God’s Word … based on their observations and very limited knowledge. I imagine some smart (at the time) guy trying to explain to the people how multiple languages came into being, so he fabricates a story that at one time all humanity spoke just one language (a blatant misconception). No one apparently knew better, so people believed it. They believed it for so long, that even when the truth of the matter was made know … people STILL believed it. That, my friends, is the power of propaganda, believing the temporary lie until it becomes permanent truth. So, people have a choice to make. For me, the Tower of Babel story is an interesting piece of ancient literature. Nothing more.

Perspectives on Faith & Science

Off the keyboard of Ashvin Pandurangi

Published inside the Doomstead Diner on August 1, 2013

Discuss this article at the Spirituality & Mysticism Table inside the Diner

 

Finding the Proper Perspective on Faith and Science:

A Rebuttal of John Michael Greer’s, The Quest for Common Language

*All quotations attributed to John Michael Greer in green are sourced from the following two articles, and all emphasis on such quotations are mine – 1) Held Hostage by Progress ; 2) The Quest for Common Language

In two back-to-back articles, John Michael Greer of The Archdruid Report has strayed away from his general rule to avoid making arguments about specific religions. Here is a clear case, in my opinion, in which rules are NOT meant to be broken…

In Greer’s view, conservative Christians who interpret the Bible “literally” are not accurately representing the Faith. Instead, they are inserting scientific assertions into the Bible where, in fact, there are none. I understand that this is a very common view among “liberal/progressive” Christians and religious non-Christians. BUT, I have yet to come across ANY Biblical evidence to support such an ahistorical and simplistic view of the rich Biblical traditions that have been preserved for posterity.

While denigrating the Christians who find scientific truths in THEIR religious traditions (i.e. the Bible), Greer seems to take great pride in alleging that HIS religious tradition promoted biological evolution before Darwin even came on the scene. Apparently, what’s good for the goose is not what’s good for the gander. As support, Greer quotes “part of a ritual dialogue” that features prominently in his religion:

“The traditions of modern Druidry, the faith I follow, actually embraced biological evolution even before Darwin provided a convincing explanation for it. Here’s part of a ritual dialogue from the writings of Edward Williams (1747-1826), one of the major figures of the early Druid Revival:

“Q. Where art thou now, and how camest thou to where thou art?”

“A. I am in the little world, whither I came, having traversed the circle of Abred, and now I am a man at its termination and extreme limits.”

“Q. What wert thou before thou didst become a man in the circle of Abred?”

“A. I was in Annwn the least possible that was capable of life, and the nearest possible to absolute death, and I came in every form, and through every form capable of a body and life, to the state of man along the circle of Abred.”

Greer then explains that this ritual continues on, but the above is enough to “give the flavor and some core ideas”. OK… now compare this ritual dialogue with the opening verses of Genesis Chapter 1 (NIV, 1-13):

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.”

(like Greer’s Druid ritual dialogue, this descriptive narrative continues on at some length…)

Can anyone look at these two sources of religious tradition and honestly claim that one contains scientific assertions while the other does not? It strains all reason and credulity to claim that the author of Genesis did not INTEND to make positive assertions about the origins of the Universe, the Earth and life on Earth; assertions that are clearly within the remit of scientific inquiry. Contrary to prevailing opinion, the principle of “Biblical literalism” has always been centered on the INTENDED meaning of Biblical texts rather than a wooden interpretation of specific words used. Greer attempts to sweep away this centuries long-tradition of interpretation with the following claim:

“Third, the value of the Bible—or of any other scripture—does not depend on whether it makes a good geology textbook, any more than the value of a geology textbook depends on whether it addresses the salvation of the soul. I don’t know of any religion in which faith and practice center on notions of how the Earth came into existence and got its current stock of living things. Certainly the historic creeds of Christianity don’t even consider the issue worth mentioning. The belief that God created the world does not require believing any particular claim about how that happened; nor does it say in the Bible that the Bible has to be taken literally, or that it deals with questions of geology or paleontology at all.”

The loosely constructed straw-man used above claims that the Bible is not a “geology textbook” – the implication being, anyone who finds scientific assertions in the Bible is treating it as such a textbook and failing to notice its primary theological purpose. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any serious and considered reading of the Bible reveals that Biblical theology cannot be artificially separated out from culture, politics, history, science or anything else. While the theology may not “center” on how the Universe, Earth and life came into existence, those issues are certainly featured FRONT AND CENTER, and the Biblical authors make no qualms about doing so.

JMG wrote the following in his first foray into the hypocritical bashing of “conservative” Christians:

“Nonetheless “Thou shalt not evolve” got turned into an ersatz Eleventh Commandment, and devout Christians exercised their ingenuity to the utmost to find ways to ignore the immense and steadily expanding body of evidence from geology, molecular biology, paleontology, and genetics that backed Darwin’s great synthesis.”

Although Greer is specifically dealing with Darwinian evolution here, the implication is that Christians are going way beyond the scope of the Bible’s intended message when they make scientific debate a part of their evangelical ministry or mission. It makes you wonder, when is the last time JMG actually read the Ten Commandments??

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20: 8-11)

Who can read the above and yet still claim there is no connection between the origin narratives of Genesis 1 and the theological discourse of Exodus, specifically Moses’ interaction with God on Mount Sinai. Regardless of whether you believe any of what is described in the Bible actually happened, it’s nearly impossible to deny that the author(s) of Genesis and Exodus intended to communicate a great intersection between God’s creation of the Universe and God’s personal relationship with humanity. We find this intersection between God’s creation of the Universe and DELIVERANCE of humanity repeatedly reinforced throughout the traditions of the Biblical prophets:

It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts. I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness. I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward” (Isaiah 45:12-13)

On top of ignoring such clear assertions in the Bible, Greer, in what can only be best characterized as a gross neglect of Christian history, cites the “historic creeds of the Christian churches” as evidence that the Bible was not intended to contain scientific truths which reflect on core theology. He claims that conservative Christians should get back to the primary message of these creeds, but fails to mention the wealth of historic Christian theologians and scientists (usually both) who read their Bibles and concluded the exact opposite of what Greer professes. After all, the rallying cry of the Christian Reformation movement was sola scriptura – that core Christian theology is not based on the Creeds of any church, but rather on scripture itself.

Leading “natural philosophers” of the Reformation era, with increased access to scripture and confidence in God’s word, confirmed that the study of the natural world is not distinct from the study of God’s glory and love revealed in scripture, but instead that the pursuit of both studies are INEXTRICABLY linked together as we ask the basic metaphysical questions about human existence, nature and purpose. The following are quotes by some of those courageous Christians who were at the forefront of the Scientific Revolution.

Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543)
“To know the mighty works of God, to comprehend His wisdom and majesty and power; to appreciate, in degree, the wonderful workings of His laws, surely all this must be a pleasing and acceptable mode of worship to the Most High, to whom ignorance cannot be more grateful than knowledge.”

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1627)
“It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it needs fly to Providence and Deity.”

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
“Geometry is one and eternal shining in the mind of God. That share in it accorded to humans is one of the reasons that humanity is the image of God.”

Gelileo Galilei (1564-1642)
“It seems to me that it was well said by Madama Serenissima, and insisted on by your reverence, that the Holy Scripture cannot err, and that the decrees therein contained are absolutely true and inviolable. But I should have in your place added that, though Scripture cannot err, its expounders and interpreters are liable to err in many ways”

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
“Therefore, those to whom God has imparted religion by intuition are very fortunate, and justly convinced. But to those who do not have it, we can give it only by reasoning, waiting for God to give them spiritual insight, without which faith is only human, and useless for salvation.”

Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
“The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”

Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
“The human mind is placed above, and not beneath it, and it is in such a point of view that the mental education afforded by science is rendered super-eminent in dignity, in practical application and utility; for by enabling the mind to apply the natural power through law, it conveys the gifts of God to man.”

Robert Boyle (1791-1867)
“shewing that, being addicted to experimental philosophy a man is rather assisted than indisposed to be a good Christian.”

The quotes above only scratch the surface of what these men believed about the role of God’s word in science and vice versa, and obviously the list of people and number of quotes could continue. The point here is not that the Bible is inerrant when it deals with scientific matters, but that, contrary to Greer’s assertions, it DOES deal with scientific matters. As proof of fact, we see that all of the scientists above relied heavily on Biblical assertions when conducting scientific investigation – i.e. that the material Universe had a distinct beginning, was created by an Intelligent Mind and therefore it was governed by fixed, uniform and intelligible laws that humans could use to understand its workings and, more importantly, personally relate to its Creator.

It was only the Modernist era which gave rise to the widespread (and dangerous) belief that science and religion must be kept in separate “containers” of consideration and discussion, where never the twain shall meet. Greer, perhaps without knowing it, is simply reinforcing this artificial dualistic or “binary” mode of thinking that he often laments when discussing other topics. The question is not whether conservative Christians are right or wrong about Darwinian evolution based on modern scientific evidence, but whether there is any Biblical basis for them to argue that certain scientific theories are in tension with Biblical theology, and therefore make such arguments a part of their Christian ministry or mission in life.

The answer to this question from Greer’s perspective is a resounding NO. His only support for this answer, however, is the artificial duality that he imposes on the Bible and those of faith. It is true that many Western conservative Christians ignore proper scientific inquiry and simply attack theories on the basis of what they have been taught to believe. That fact is clear enough from the widespread conservative Christian critique of Big Bang cosmology. This critique is just as harsh if not more harsh than attacks on evolutionary theory, despite the fact that Big Bang cosmology supports the Bible’s claim of a beginning to all space, time, energy and matter!

Many of them have simply been taught to equate the Big Bang with “evolution”, thoroughly mixing up the sciences of cosmology and biology in the process. So it’s true that such ignorance and blind passion is prevalent, but Greer’s assertion here is also trite and irrelevant. He is trying to base an entire argument about historic Christianity, Biblical interpretation, science and theology on this one trite observation. Therein lies the binary mentality he fails to recognize in his own thinking (the following is MY take on his thinking):

“Either you are ignorant and blindly impassioned like THOSE Christians, or you are ‘progressive’ and well-versed in modern science like US”…

“Either you read the Bible ‘literally’ like THOSE Christians, or you read it metaphorically and allegorically like US”…

“Either the Bible is a scientific TEXTBOOK or it has ABSOLUTELY NO relation to science at all”…

The truth about the Bible is not so dualistic and simple. Like most good literature, it contains many different genres and literary devices – historical narratives, biographies, apocalyptic writing, military accounts, love stories, poetry, parables, metaphors, allegory, etc. The intention is not to create fiction or obscure reality but to convey truths about reality in brilliantly impactful ways. There is no reason to say that these truths are limited to “theological” truths rather than historical or scientific ones, or that those fields do not overlap and complement one another in the Bible. Such an argument presents an artificial and unnecessary duality, one that was NEVER incorporated into the historic Christian faith.

On the contrary, and as the evidence above makes clear, the historic Christian faith held to by many “conservative” members of the Church today has made no qualms that its theological messages are deeply intertwined with its historical and scientific assertions (or data points, if you will). Nowhere is this Biblical truth made more evident than in the very heart of Christian doctrine – the incarnation, ministry, death and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth in the region of Palestine during the first century AD.  Christians assert that the entire Bible from front to back revolves around and points to this one God-man – the divine Logos, the Word made flesh (John 1:14), through whom “all things were made” (1:3).

Greer asserts that the core of Christianity is faith and grace, which is TRUE, but then requires Bible-believing Christians to greatly suspend their disbelief when asserting that the Christian faith is not compatible with, or cannot be based on, intellectual and rational inquiry into other fields of knowledge.

“This, of course, is what a great many religions have been saying all along. In most of the religions of the west, and many of those from other parts of the world, faith is a central theme, and faith is not a matter of passing some kind of multiple choice test; it’s not a matter of the intellect at all; rather, it’s the commitment of the whole self to a way of seeing the cosmos that can be neither proved nor disproved rationally, but has to be accepted or rejected on its own terms”

The above is an exceptional encapsulation of Modernist dogma regarding religion. Greer has now thoroughly associated himself with the thinkers and pundits of the last few centuries who have attempted to quarantine spirituality from logic, reason and empirical evidence. It should be readily apparent how absurd this dogma really is when stripped down to its bare essentials. But, seeing as how I stand on the shoulder of pre-modernist giants, I will conclude this rebuttal by quoting Paul’s famous argument in 1 Corinthians 15, which flatly contradicts much of what Greer has asserted in his recent articles. Paul takes Greer’s grossly misleading, ahistorical caricature of Christianity and puts the Faith back into its proper historical perspective.

“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (12-19)

Money & Wealth I: A Bot Blogger Perspective

Off the keyboard of Bot Blogger

Published  at the Economics Table inside the Diner on March 26, 2013

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

Note from RE:  Monsta666’s recent Money & Wealth: Part I article has received spirited debate at the Econ Table. Diner Bot Blogger chipped in a very well articulated post,  which I will share with Diner Blog readers here.  For more, visit with the Diners hashing this out at the Economics Table inside the Diner.

From Bot Blogger:

I wish Ashvin would get more up to date in his lawyer’in for the lord. Actually I thought that was what he was trying to do by bringing Leviticus in as a guide to the handling of the perps. Oh well Ash, you tried. The bible is a open and shut case. It’s over. Besides defending crimes that may or may not have been perpetuated 6000 to 2000 years ago is easy work. You just have to go through all the apologizing and equivocating that centuries of lawyers for the lord have done before you.

If you’re going to get excited about slavery, get excited about wage slavery. Get excited about prisoners for profit (see the latest Chris Hedges article).

Genocide? How about Rwanda or Bosnia. There is lots to talk about. Much more difficult to get around those awkward feelings and emotions. I JUST, can’t get excited, about what happened to some Mennonites in the Middle East, 6000 years ago. LOL.

Systems are in place that that sustain themselves. Bureaucracies exist for their own sake. Our society is based on the continuation of negative outcomes because the services being provided are solutions that have become problems and addictions themselves… We are a supply and demand society. The supply creates the demand. We have doctors so we create a disease-care profession. Not health care. That’s why 9 out of 10 doctors recommend Lucky Strikes: it’s good business.

We have dentists so we have cavities. If there were a way to clean your teeth simply and thoroughly NO dentist would approve it because it would put her out of work. Energy. The film Garbage Warrior taught me that the utilities do NOT want you to be off the grid, for the simple reason that you will no longer be sending them a cheque every month. Cops NEED crime. No crime, no budget increases. They are fine with a drug addicted society as long as they can still throw people in jail for being high on illegal drugs.

Military needs war. Need I say more.

Secret Service needs terrorists. So it will create them. Believe it.

News needs negativity. It celebrates serial killers. Luka Magnota ‘News-maker of the year’ by the Canadian Press. It provides road-kill for the viewing pleasure of audiences every night. Rubber necking an accident, that could have been you, on the highway is a natural tenancy, if you’ve never driven before I can assure you that’s why it slows on the side opposite to the accident. Is this what we asked for?

Your independence is not something any system wants. Your compliant participation is. So, solution number one ‘regulate’; shut the fuck up and learn to buck up:

Or solution number two ‘medicate’; take a minus IQ pill (most people are already on this):

But these systems we create and maintain. Can we not create and maintain better systems? Well maybe if we are better people. And there-in lies the rub. How? Most people get a real sense of belonging from whatever system they are a part of. The system we are all participating in is materialism. A lot of people self-identify as consumers. When the news anchor says: “Consumer confidence is up!”, they get a little boost, and decide to go buy something at the dollar store (IKEA). Love that shit. LOL. But in the end it’s a game of winner take all and looser gets a cardboard box on the sidewalk. There are lots of people who have sold their souls for cash and they only talk in money terms. And most conversations we have are at the core about money. If you eliminated the need for money our conversations could be so much better. And that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be WORK left to do.

As Ken Wilber says, we live in flat land. Where there are no interior experiences only external measurements of value. And that’s how we know our worth. The interior world has no value because it can’t be measured (or we just haven’t tried).

And how do we measure? In units of US dollars, Gold, real estate, number of friends on Facebook, the length of our cock, the size of our tits, the number of cars we drive, the net return on our art collecting. (A way for rich people to imagine they are striving for something higher when in fact they are simply wallowing in the ‘value’ of something they don’t understand and will never touch from the inside. Van Gogh didn’t paint for money. He couldn’t NOT paint.)

We want to belong so we buy our belongings and the longing goes on longing.

As Bob says: Science is not a system of knowledge but a methodology. This method is not knowledge itself. Knowledge requires a ‘knower’ – one who is in the know. If this methodology could be applied to these experiences it could be the greatest gift we have. It could bring us to an experience of our connectedness, to one another, to history, to meaning and purpose, to life. If it’s not simply applied to things. Creating and manipulating and calculating and streamlining and dividing THINGS, in this dollar store economy.

But the interior world doesn’t have the same multiplicity of scales. It’s got unity not division. The interior world is about where we join with everything directly, where our longing finds a home. Where our fear of monsters, real and imagined give way to a steady state of already having everything we need including fearlessness.

So what is the experiment? The Diner has a very divergent yet cogent group, it’s already running an experiment (or it’s running us) we just haven’t put it to words. Maybe we don’t need to…

As GO says: Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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