Friday, October 18, 2013

The Truth

Laser beam pointing as telescope focusing aid towards Milky Way
image wikimedia
בראשׁית ברא אלהים את השׁמים ואת הארץ׃
bereshit bara Elohim et ha-shamaim ve-et ha-aretz
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Genesis 1:1 KJV

כי־הנני בורא שׁמים חדשׁים וארץ חדשׁה ולא תזכרנה הראשׁנות ולא תעלינה על־לב׃
ki hinneni boreh shamaim hadashim ve-aretz hadasha ve-lo hazkarnah ha-rishonot ve-lo tealenah al-lev
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
Isaiah 65:17 KJV

Comment to a blog text by Russell Bailiss:

"I understand Genesis 1:1 to refer to the creation by God of not just planet earth, but also the other planets when we are told that he created "earth", as from my study of the Hebrew word 'aretz' (translated 'earth') I have found that it means 'to be firm' and therefore could refer to any place of physical 'firmness' in the universe, not just this planet.

With this in mind, I am wondering if the use of the word 'aretz' in Isa 65:17 means that God will be re-creating the other planets as well as this one when Jesus comes back.

Do you have any thoughts on this interpretation of Isaiah 65:17 as English translations of the Bible use the phrase "a new earth" which suggests it is just this planet which is re'created."

Your question raises fundamentally important issues to all Bible believing Christians. I try to outline with a few words a truthful path towards an answer without any preposterous claim of supposedly owning the truth.

Unfortunately, what I write here about Biblical hermeneutics, our approach to reading and understanding the Holy Bible, is ignored or outright rejected by great many good Christians to the peril of Christianity in modern world. That is why I give such importance to your honest and good question. So read this reply with eyes wide open and with very critical mind!

The Truth
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
John 4:24
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
John 16:13:15 KJV
From these words of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John we learn that the Spirit of God will "guide His own into all truth". This is not a static supernatural bestowing of heavenly knowledge but rather a heavy and lengthy process in which many, alas!, loose the interest in the truth.

For truth, all the truth and nothing but the truth hurts.

As sinners we are unable to stand in the light of the full power of truth about ourselves and need the protection of God's grace against the evil we see in us. We are unable to comprehend the ways of our Lord as He is something else! We need a Defender when we realize the limits of our intellectual ability and knowledge of His creation.

But most of all, we need the love of the truth that God gives as a free present. If we reject to accept this most wonderful and most challenging present it is possible that God Himself tries to fool us by false teachings and prophets so that we fall from grace and salvation. This is the nasty warning in the authentic letter of Apostle Paul in one of the oldest writings in the canonical collection of the New Testament
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
2 Thess 2:7-10

Biblical truth?
Personally, I do not like the expression Biblical truth as it sounds like a qualification of truth. Instead, I respect the harsh words naked truth of penetrating laser power and clarity knowing that God of Israel wants nothing less
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Psalm 51:6
Naked truth is not at all a simple matter as truth is never trivial.

"In the beginning God created heaven and earth" (Gen 1:1).

Is this majestic opening sentence of the Bible true?

A truthful answer is that Jews, Christians and Muslims do believe that it is true and that God of the Bible has created the entire Universe and also us humans. It is a matter of faith, not true in the sense a scientific fact is (at least for now) true.

Atheists deny that there is any god and agnostics doubt whether there are any gods, personal or impersonal. They are free to do so as nothing forces people to believe in the God of Israel.

Isn't that true?

Truth about Creation
You refer to the Hebrew word aretz, earth, the firm one, as a planet.

There probably are very few humans left in today's world who have normal ability to learn and access to most basic education who doubt that Earth indeed is a round planet orbiting the Sun.

Today astronomers are using increasingly sophisticated tools of observation and mathematical formula to detect planets around other stars in Milky Way galaxy. And they are discovering hundreds of them.

Isn't this true?

So as a believing Christian living in modern days you logically ask does the Word of God given through prophet Isaiah in Is 65:17 (in the final so called Trito-Isaiah part of the famous book) possibly refer to all the planets or just to the planet we have been given to rule over as our home?

Truth about the Bible
Christians of today often ignore or reject the truth that the people who wrote the Bible understood those five visible bright and regularly moving objects on the sky we regularly call planets in a completely different way from us post-Copernicus humans.

The Bible represents a genuinely geocentric world view where the Earth is the firm center of the entire Cosmos under a firmament (Hebrew רקיע raqi`a) separating the waters under and above. Making the firmament took God the entire Second Day of Creation well before the Fourth Day when He set Sun, Moon and the stars above Earth to illuminate day and night and to show people times and religious calendars. (btw. the Sumerians called Nanna, Moon, also Su-en, "the one who knows the time").
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Genesis 1:6-8

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Gen 1:14-19
The truth that the world view of those who wrote the Bible was geocentric is as much an anathema to many believing Christians today as the introduction of heliocentric world view was to the good Christians in 16th century Italy. Would the Spirit of God who inspired the writers of the Holy Bible not know that Earth is a planet?

Truth about the future of planet Earth
Astronomers and cosmologists can say much about the future of our Solar system and the planets orbiting the Sun when the hydrogen fuel reserves of the Sun start to get low. These scientific facts greatly interest humanity but have little relevance since as far as we know all life has been extinguished from planet Earth many thousand millions of years before the expected expansion of Sun into a red giant in about 7.5 billion years from now that finally engulfs Earth into its fiery flames.

Isn't this true?

God of Israel says through His holy prophet Isaiah that He has a future plan in which He will create new heavens and earth.

As Bible believing Christians we believe that this is true and wait for that amazing day heart full of joy - and sometimes a little doubt.

We do not want to twist the Word of Bible and claim that Genesis 1:1 and Isaiah 65:17 refer to the planets as we know them today. Rather, we say that the Bible expresses an extremely powerful message using the authentic vocabulary of people having fully geocentric view of the world with Earth as the fixed and immobile center of everything. 

As children of modern scientific era we ask the legitimate question on the basis of our knowledge today does the divine prophecy from the God of Israel talk only about the Earth as known to humanity before Copernicus or does it involve the entire Universe ... or even Multiverse?

Here I stop...
As I said, I do not claim to own the truth and sincerely warn about religious or irreligious people who make such a claim. 

Rather, I try to point the way towards truth - to accept the Bible as it is and to accept truthful knowledge of the Nature as it is without trying to force the Word of God into the molds of current knowledge that may soon be rather laughable in the light of tomorrow's science.

It is not a shame even to say that "I do not know" and to stand humbly at the shores of the enormous open sea of knowledge with one of the greatest scientists of all times, Sir Isaac Newton, grateful for that little pretty stone we have been allowed to find!

And it is a particularly good idea to trust the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ and pray that Holy Spirit would guide you and me and all those who respect the Word of God towards all truth and show us answers and new questions in our quest for the Truth.

Truth with capital T
For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Colossians 2:1-3 KJV
All treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ, yes.

But they are hidden, so let us all ora et labora!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

First mathematics then optics!

NGC 891
Hubble image NASA APOD
Galaxies have been studied intensively ever since Edwin Hubble first realized that those "cosmic clouds" where in fact star islands in the Universe.

Astronomers, astrophysicists, cosmologists and other scientists used advanced mathematics with theories of gravity, time, matter and space to figure out more about different types of galaxies. Much of the work was and continues to be theoretical with assumptions made on the basis of known laws of Nature.

Hubble telescope has the optics and ideal environment to provide needle sharp images of galaxies. But also Earth bound telescopes can today achieve images like this edge on picture of NGC 891 which is a combination of several photos.

It must be very satisfying - or challenging - to see with own eyes something that has only been rather abstract results of complex mathematical formula.

Adam Block from Mt. Lemmon Sky Center of the University of Arizona has thus provided visual evidence about galaxies that has been summarized also for us lay people in the APOD site
The spiral galaxy spans about 100 thousand light-years and is seen almost exactly edge-on from our perspective. In fact, about 30 million light-years distant in the constellation Andromeda, NGC 891 looks a lot like our Milky Way. At first glance, it has a flat, thin, galactic disk and a central bulge cut along the middle by regions of dark obscuring dust. The combined image data also reveal the galaxy's young blue star clusters and telltale pinkish star forming regions. And remarkably apparent in NGC 891's edge-on presentation are filaments of dust that extend hundreds of light-years above and below the center line. The dust has likely been blown out of the disk by supernova explosions or intense star formation activity. Faint neighboring galaxies can also be seen near this galaxy's disk.

New ideas for how Earth core formed

Image BBC Science and Environment
Another Space Theology bookmark

BBC Science correspondent Simon Redfen reports on fresh research on liquid iron published by Stanford University. The clearly written article discusses developing theories on the structure and formation of planet Earth.