Thursday, November 04, 2010

The not so brites

According to Ed Babinski:

“Steve, I don't see either Gill or Calvin denying that hell is under the earth. Certainly folks in Galileo's day believed it was. They believed hell was the furthest point from heaven above, and in a geocentric cosmos that meant the center of the earth. That very point was raised against heliocentrism.”

As usual, Edski is a freethinker who can’t think his way out of a wet paper bag. Men are never dumber than when they presume to be smarter than God.

i) I gave specific textual reasons for rejecting his inference from the material he half-quoted. Edski offers no direct rebuttal.

ii) Instead, he talks about what other folks allegedly believed. But this is a tacit admission that he can’t validate his inference from the actual wording of the material he excerpted.

iii) In addition, he isn’t smart enough to draw a rudimentary distinction between a commentator’s own beliefs, and what he attributes to the author he exegetes.

For instance, imagine arguing that if John Ciardi believes in general relativity, then he will attribute general relativity to medieval physics (a la Dante). Conversely, if John Ciardi interprets Dante in terms of Aristotelian physics or Ptolemaic astronomy, then that must correspond to Ciardi’s own scientific outlook.

It is, of course, true that Gill or Calvin will endorse whatever they think the Bible teaches. But I’m just making a general observation about Edski’s glaring non sequitur.

iv) Notice that Edski also disregards the issue I raised about how the image of the subterranean earth having a “center” suggests a spherical earth rather than a flat earth.

Not only does Edski lack the smarts to think of that objection on his own, but even when I draw his attention to the issue, it continues to bounce right off his steel-plated noggin.

v) Apropos (iv), there’s an obvious tension between alleging that hell was in the center of the earth, and alleging that hell was “the farthest point” from heaven. For if hell was located in the center of the earth, how would be the farthest point from heaven?

Although he posits a triple-decker/flat-earth cosmography, Edski lacks the mental capacity to visualize the spatial relations which that model generates.

a) One problem is that Edski is vague about the specific shape of the flat earth. Is it flat like a disk, or flat like a square? Circular or rectangular?

b) If he’s going to press the imagery of “corners,” then it would be flat like a square. But if he attributes a disk-like configuration to the flat-earth, then does the center refer to a (mid-)point that’s equidistant from the surface perimeter? Like the center of a vinyl record? But that can’t be right since he is situating hell “under” the earth.

Put another way, does “center” represent a point equidistant from the circumference of a circle, or equidistant from the surface of a sphere?

If the “center” denotes a (mid-)point (i.e. core) within a spherical (or cubical) earth that’s equidistant from the surface of the sphere (or cube), and heaven is above the disk (or cube), then the midpoint wouldn’t be the farthest conceivable point from heaven.

Rather, the way to construct a hell that’s as far a possible from heaven, is not to put hell inside the earth, but to put heaven on one side of the earth, then put hell on the opposite side. A podal/antipodal relation, like the north pole and the south pole. Of course, that would involve a spherical earth.

Another schematic possibility is to locate hell in the middle of the (flat? spherical?) earth, then situate heaven exactly the same distance above the surface of the earth as you situate hell below the surface of the earth.

However, on that view hell would have to be deeper than the mountains are high; otherwise, heaven wouldn’t actually be “above” the earth. For the bottom of heaven would be lower than the highest mountain peaks.

How thick or deep was the flat-earth? Does Edski have ancient measurements? Was the depth of the flat-earth commensurate with the height of the mountains?

c) Did ancient men climb to heaven by taking a hike up the tallest mountain in their vicinity? Was that a common experience in the ANE? How did they penetrate the “solid dome”? Did they use a blowtorch to cut a door? What’s the melting point of heaven’s dome?

How did Isaiah, Daniel, Paul, and John the Revelator experience heaven? Did they climb a nearby mountain? Of did they have a vision?

“The Gill and Calvin quotations and some others were collected by an inerrantist brethren of yours, in fact a Christian whose views lay to the RIGHT of yours theologically, King James Only.”

The fact that Edski relies on a KJV-Onlyist crackpot as his source of information regarding historical views of western cosmography tells you something about the caliber of his scholarship (or lack thereof).

BTW, would his sidekick, Paul Tobin, regard a KJV-Onlyist as an example of “mainstream/critical” scholarship?

“And have you disproven Augustine's view that hell was under earth, which he affirmed at the end of his lifelong career of Bible study in his Retr. or disproven that same view found among modern day inerrantists?”

i) Since Augustine was a notorious allegorist, I don’t regard him as the touchstone of reliable exegesis.

ii) Moreover, Edski recently assured us that the church fathers are way to late to tell us anything useful about what OT or NT writers thought. Why is he reversing himself?

“The view that hell lay under the earth, that living beings lay under the earth is not something I invented.”

True. It's something you copied (by your own admission) from a KJV-Onlyist. Truly impressive scholarship!

“It's something people have imagined from ancient Mesopotamian times to today.”

You keep recycling the same discredited claims.

“Why you feel so certain (as only a 20th century inerrantist who has probably seen diagrams of the earth's interior) that such a view as ‘hell beneath the earth’ was NEVER assumed by any Biblical author anywhere in the OT or NT -- is something you have not demonstrated.”

To the contrary, I’ve marshaled a series of arguments for which you offer no direct rebuttal. You, by contrast, continue to do a spot-on impersonation of a parakeet. You excel at repeating the same rote words and phrases.

Actually, that’s not fair to parakeets. Unlike you, even a parakeet has a capacity to learn new words and phrases.


  1. I think it's strange and sad that an apostate spends so much time pondering and discussing "where" hell is.

    Perhaps the inescapable reality that a yawning hell awaits him drives his thoughts there prematurely?

    Perhaps there's a parallel to condemned convicts who share urban legends of "The Green Mile"; piecing together the reported appearance of the furnishings, the alleged lighting in the execution chamber, and the rumors of a peculiar medicinal aroma hanging in the air; which things are always discussed in hushed and somber tones in macabre anticipation of the appointed time with the knowledge that no one ever returns with a full and accurate report, and there's no way to know for certain apart from first hand experience.

    In Christ,

  2. Yes, he should be less concerned with where it is, and more concerned with how to avoid it.