Sunday, September 27, 2015

Blood moon

Blood moons have occurred many times throughout history. But the eschatological events that mark the Day of the Lord will be unmistakably unique. Those biblical passages also talk about the sun being darkened, and about other cosmic phenomena taking place (such as the stars falling from the sky in Rev. 6:13). Again, the language of Scripture depicts something far more dramatic than a normal lunar eclipse.

I disagree:

i) To begin with, this may be stock figurative eschatological imagery.

ii) Even assuming it's literal (and I'm open to that), the fact that any one celestial sign is fairly commonplace doesn't mean the combination is commonplace. Ancient observers were impressed by rare astronomical conjunctions. For certain astronomical events to cluster in time and/or place is what makes it a portent or prodigy. 

iii) Another problem with the interpretation is that it uses modern astronomical knowledge as a frame of reference, regarding the frequency of lunar and solar eclipses, but the original audience wasn't privy to that information. So solar and lunar eclipses, as well as meteor showers, would be much rarer for the original audience. 

To witness a solar or lunar eclipse, you must be alive at a particular place and time. You must be facing the sun or moon. If you're on the side of the earth facing away from the sun, you can't see a solar eclipse. And it only lasts a few minutes. So it's not as if there's time for it to circle around. Likewise, the visibility of a lunar eclipse may depend on what hemisphere you're in.  

Astronomers keep records of how many solar and lunar eclipses there've been, but even in modern times, the man on the street doesn't have that figure in his head. 

iv) If, however, it is necessary to make the sign more impressive, there are miraculous ways God could do it. It is physically impossible to have a simultaneous solar and lunar eclipse. A solar eclipse requires sun and moon to be in conjunction whereas a lunar eclipse requires sun and moon to be in opposition. The same object can't be in two different places at the same time (although that might be disputed at Plank scales).

But God could create an optical illusion of a simultaneous solar and lunar eclipse. 

In theory he could create temporary duplicates of sun and moon (although that would require other adjustments to shield the earth from the additional solar radiation and gravitational effects.

Likewise, God could miraculously cause a solar and lunar eclipse in rapid succession. An interval that's naturally impossible.  

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