Friday, October 08, 2010

Rock and roll


“Steve, Nobody says that an earthquake on a flat earth is the same as tiling a pizza. The earth in the Bible is "shaken" not "tilted" like a pizza.”

I’d suggest you try a novel experiment, Ed. Novel for you, that is. Why don’t you actually try to think. To think through the implications of a position. I don’t believe that’s asking too much of a free-thinker.

You attribute a flat-earth cosmography to ancient Israelites and their neighbors. Okay, then.

Try to visualize the implications of that model. If you shake a disk or tile, what happens, Ed? Well, the surface will rock back and forth, from side to side. As a result, objects on the surface will roll off the ends or edges of the disk or tile.

Just think of what happens to plates and glasses on a dinner table during a major earthquake. What happens when the floor goes up and down, Ed? Things fall off the table. Ever notice that?

Even if it just moves sideways, rapidly, things fall off the edge. Ever notice that?

This isn’t hard to visualize. If you lack the wherewithal to do that, then maybe you should find an occupation worthier of your intellectual talents, like sorting tomatoes.

“Also, the Bible says the earth is founded firmly by God, it will not be moved, but it also says that God sometimes shakes the earth, even the heavens and the earth together.”

It also compares eschatological meteors to fig-trees “shaken” by the wind (Rev 6:13). Does this mean Bible writers also subscribe to a fruitarian cosmography? Did they think the cosmos was a giant fig-tree?

Maybe you’d like to do a mock-up for us. A diagram of the cosmic fig-tree.

“So these are both great acts of God perpetrated directly by God, displays of His power. The very fact that the earth does not move is a display of God's power to the ancient mind. So was the fact that the same God who could keep the earth steady, also had the power to shake it at will.”

Bible writers also attribute rain and drought to God. As well as fertility and infertility. So what?

“That kind of language is suited to both flat earth and geocentric cosmic views, as today's Christian geocentrists also point out.”

The language of seismic activity or inactivity is equally suited to a spherical earth and a heliocentric perspective.

Ed, if you fancy yourself a rationalist, then at least be rational. I know that’s asking a lot from you. But can’t you give it a try?

“All stellar objects are also spoken of in the Bible as not only being placed above the earth after its creation but also as moving above the earth--all moved and/or directed by God, who also has the power to stop them, as in the book of Joshua, or like in Job where it says God can stop the sun, and that God directs the constellations in their movements.”

I realize that this will come as a tremendous shock to you, but the Bible was written for the benefit of earthlings, not astronauts. So, yes, Biblical descriptions of life on earth reflect the viewpoint of an earthbound observer.

“Taken together with the verses about the earth's immobility, it's plainly a flat earth and/or a geocentric cosmos in the eyes of the ancients.”

This is all you ever do, Ed. You push the reverse button on your tape-recorder, then repeat the same addlebrained argument, no matter how often you’re corrected.

The “immobility” of the earth has reference to the absence of seismic activity, and not the relation of the earth to other celestial bodies. What’s your problem, Ed? Did you stop learning at the age of seven?

“But if the earth is constantly spinning like a top and also rushing round the sun in a huge hyperbolic ring each year, and if earthquakes are the natural consequence of continental drift, and if the sun and constellations are not being directed, nor even moving at all through the sky, then how is God's power demonstrated?”

God power is demonstrated by making the world, complete with natural forces and natural cycles, as well as acting apart from natural forces and cycles whenever it suits his purpose.

“Steve, I'm not going to argue Walton's views for him. Those are his views.”

I see. So having quoted him as a high card to trump inerrancy, you now disown him when your trump card turns out to be a losing card. Well, Ed, it’s a little late for that. Casino security is on the way to take you for a little ride in the back of a company car, squeezed between two beefy guys named Bubba and Boris. I think you know how the story ends.

“I cited him because as I said in my article, a number of books had been published pretty recently, some by Catholics and Evangelicals, who agreed that Genesis 1 fits into its ancient literary environment in ways that make attempts at accommodating Genesis 1 with ‘modern science’ problematical to say the least.”

You cited him as a pressure tactic against Christians who affirm inerrancy. But now he turns out to be a fickle ally, who does your argument as much harm as good. Too bad.

“It appears they did. They weren't living in a purely metaphorical daze in which they held no conceptions at all concerning the cosmos' geography and structure, as I point out in my chapter on ‘Biblical Cosmology.’”

You keep taking refuge in your tattered chapter on “Biblical Cosmology,” as if that’s a given. But, of course, I subjected your chapter to a sustained critique. That’s why you’re currently in full damage control mode. So you can’t keep retreating into your tattered chapter, as if that’s a given.

“On the topic of what you claim is my ‘argument from authority,’ I cited multiple works not only by Walton but by others in an endnote. You ought to have viewed the list as suggested reading, including classic works on the topic, and an invitation to read further, and learn more about the ancient Near Eastern milieu of the Bible. As I said in my chapter, Catholic and Evangelical OT scholars were coming to agree with one another based on studying the ways Genesis 1 fit its ANE milieu.”

I realize it’s hard for you to keep a simple idea in your head for more than five minutes, but I already commented on your footnoted supporting material in my initial review of your precious chapter.

“Lastly, Ben at War on Error, reviewed my chapter…”

Ben and I already interacted. Did you forget that, too?

But thanks for never missing an opportunity to remind us that there’s no correlation between infidelity and high IQ.


  1. It also compares eschatological meteors to fig-trees “shaken” by the wind (Rev 6:13). Does this mean Bible writers also subscribe to a fruitarian cosmography? Did they think the cosmos was a giant fig-tree?

    Maybe you’d like to do a mock-up for us. A diagram of the cosmic fig-tree.

    This is really too funny.

  2. Steve, The "visualizations" you suggest do not take precedence over the ancient's own words and drawings that we possess. They had their own ideas and related concerns and fears concerning the cosmos' structure and shape. I pointed such things out in my chapter.

    They left behind words and imagery outlining their beliefs about cosmic geography. Read them for yourself. Read the book, Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography. Or I can email you sections. Othmar Keel's writings feature Egyptian and Babylonian images and iconography of the cosmos as they imagined it.

    The ancients did not have your knowledge of modern physics, astronomy, geology, chemistry, biology, etc. They didn't even view their high gods exactly the same way you view your high God today. There seems to have been more mystery and fear involved. Therefore I doubt that they would be prone to imagining "implications" in the same fashion you might be prone to imagine they did.

    As I've said, the ancients didn't have everything about their world worked out, but Egyptians, Mesopotamians and Hebrews shared enough in common for us to understand what kinds of "pictures of the cosmos" they entertained.

    You think they only thought in terms of metaphor, and their minds wouldn't do what minds usually do, which is to try and piece together what little they could see and know about the world to form some idea of the whole, including ideas about cosmic geography?

    Your discussion/debate, is not with "Babinski" it's with archeologists, translators, historians, and theologians who have uncovered the words and ideas of ancient civilizations. The books are already out there, and all you're apparently doing in your own way is trying to get people to avoid reading them, except for Walton's books that is.
    But I'm fine with you interpreting Genesis 1 as temple imagery. Great. That's a step forward. When you read a few more different experts on ancient Near Eastern cosmologies, as outlined in my endnote number 2 let me know.

    I also invite any of your readers to contact me if they want a copy of my chapter, "The Cosmology of the Bible" so they can read it for themselves. They can also visit Ben's blog, War on Error (the name alone should take you there via google), he will be replying to some of the points you raise in part 5 of his series on my chapter. Here is a link to part 4:

    Also, here is what Walton writes in his NIV APPLICATION COMMENTARY on Genesis, p. 110:

    "P. Seely has amply demonstrated that the raqia, structurally speaking, was perceived by the Israelites as a solid dome."

  3. Steve, You wrote: "God's power is demonstrated by making the world, complete with natural forces and natural cycles, as well as acting apart from natural forces and cycles whenever it suits his purpose."

    That's not addressing the point I made in my chapter. The point was that the Bible tells us that objects in the sky were moving, stars, constellations, the sun, and some verses even state that God was directing such movements.
    But the movements that the ancients saw were only apparent. The stars coursing? That's because the earth rotates. The constellations rising and falling on the horizon throughout the year? That's because the earth circles the sun annually. But "God" is praised for directing, moving such objects. But they aren't moving, not at all. It's like praising God for making the trees go by when you're driving down the street. That means they perceived the earth as stationary, exactly as other verses state, God "has established the earth, it shall not be moved."

    So they believed God's power was demonstrated in both cases, in the case of daily and seasonal movements of celestial objects in the sky above the earth, and in the case of keeping the earth still, unmoved. So God is being praised for creating and maintaining a geocentric cosmos.

    That's my argument from the chapter, and it demonstrates that the ancients did not perceive the earth as moving, but believed all of the objects in the sky were moving.

    So we know that they perceived God as directing the movements of things in the sky (things that we know do not move), and they also perceived God as keeping the earth from moving (which we know does move).

    Conversely, the same Bible depicts God as being able to stop the sun's daily course through the sky, and to sometimes shake the earth.

    So the same God who keeps the earth from moving also sometimes shakes it.

    About your view that to shake a flat earth means to shove things off its edges, all I can say is that neither Egypt nor Babylon nor Israel believed that they lived at the edge of the earth. They each perceived their nation as lying at the center of the earth. I point this out in an endnote in my chapter.

    Neither does the Bible say God shakes the earth at a 90% angle. Neither do you have to interpret the line in Job (about God picking up the earth by its edges to shake the wicked out of it) in a fundamentalist fashion. I do not interpret it that way in my chapter. I cited that verse as a metaphor that coincides with the ancient flat earth perception of the cosmos as found in other verses in Job and the Bible.