Friday, September 25, 2015

Biblical astronomy. Job 38:31-33:

"Pleiades large" by NASA, ESA, AURA/Caltech, Palomar Observatory
The science team consists of: D. Soderblom and E. Nelan (STScI), F. Benedict and B. Arthur (U. Texas), and B. Jones (Lick Obs.) - Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -

In chapter 38 begins God's first speech to suffering Job "out of the storm". This part of the text gives insight also to the world view of the anonymous writer.

Second century BC Greek translation Septuagint writes in the last chapter that Job was "a ruler of Edom". The original language is not standard Hebrew and often quite difficult to understand. It may present a dialect spoken in East from Jordan probably during the 6th century before Christ.

Three verses refer specifically to the night sky among the many natural wonders that God points out challenging for Job to know and to take control. Both are impossible tasks for Job. (Today we know much more about stars but do not yet control even one of them!)

Job 38:31-33

  הַֽ֭תְקַשֵּׁר מַעֲדַנּ֣וֹת כִּימָ֑ה אֽוֹ־מֹשְׁכ֖וֹת כְּסִ֣יל תְּפַתֵּֽחַ׃
  הֲתֹצִ֣יא מַזָּר֣וֹת בְּעִתּ֑וֹ וְ֝עַ֗יִשׁ עַל־בָּנֶ֥יהָ תַנְחֵֽם׃
  הֲ֭יָדַעְתָּ חֻקּ֣וֹת שָׁמָ֑יִם אִם־תָּשִׂ֖ים מִשְׁטָר֣וֹ בָאָֽרֶץ׃
 Westminster Leningrad Codex WLC

  συνῆκας δὲ δεσμὸν Πλειάδος καὶ φραγμὸν Ὠρίωνος ἤνοιξας;
  ἦ διανοίξεις μαζουρωθ ἐν καιρῷ αὐτοῦ καὶ Ἕσπερον ἐπὶ κόμης αὐτοῦ ἄξεις αὐτά;
  ἐπίστασαι δὲ τροπὰς οὐρανοῦ ἢ τὰ ὑπ᾿ οὐρανὸν ὁμοθυμαδὸν γινόμενα;
Septuagint LXX

“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
    Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
    or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens?
    Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
Job 38:31-33 NIV

Comment on NIV translation
The New International Version identifies the constellations as Pleiades, Orion's belt and the Bear (alternatively Leo).

Less fortunate is the theological "fixing" of the third verse by adding the word God into the sentence. In the original Hebrew and Septuagint Greek translation "they" have dominion over the earth, that is the laws of heaven.

Can you set up their dominion over the earth?
Job 38:33

Thursday, September 24, 2015

God or no God - so what?

A busy astronomer specializing on the highly exact mathematics and technology of research may find humanistic and theological soft talk about everything both useless and annoying. What simple admiration of sunset, praising the God of Israel as Creator of everything, having "musical ears" to hear the speech of the stars  has to do with seeking the truth out there?

When a Cosmologist takes to him or her the traditional role of the priests representing the ultimate truth about everything, it is time to ring alarm bells. For many top scientists tend to give the false impression that advancing research has proven there is no need for a God. This claim, of course, is no result of studying the Laws of Nature but rather a philosophical position influenced by many other things besides scientific knowledge about the secrets of the Universe.

Students of Ludwig Wittgenstein and others may well ask if we cannot pinpoint how God works in Nature nor even be sure about His existence so what meaning have this discussion? Why would it matter if God exists or does not exist as research progresses in blighting speed through advances in technology and theory formulation.

It matters very much

A Cosmologists who gives the impression that God has no role in the origins and evolution of space is actually an apostle of ancient scientific materialism à la Democritus the Atom man. Following the reasoning of his student Epicurus we can state that if galaxies are born, grouped and move spontaneously with no divine planning and guidance by Creator then so does also life upon Earth. This, of course, is the conclusion of many Cosmologists and Biologists spreading atheism in the name of science.

But if instead of automatic system the slightest movement of a subatomic particle in the Universe is known to its Creator? Is it not true that then His demand that humans should obey their Maker gets enormous depth. As moon follows the path set to it by God of Israel always shows the same side towards Earth why I and you do not always obey His will but go to our own paths?

As Lord Jesus taught us to pray

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

W.A. Mozart and the Universe

W.A. Mozart Isis und Osiris. Kurt Moll

[This is another text in the same vein as the previous Ignorant faith and arrogant fool examining our subjective attitude towards reality, our different world views.]

Science of Music examines what music is and what it does to humans using scientific tools. It is one way to look at music and a very interesting one, too (see, for example, the weekly series of articles in Nature).

Musicology is defined in Wikipedia in this way:
Musicology (from Greek μουσική (mousikē), meaning "music", and -λογία (-logia), meaning "study of-") is the scholarly analysis of, and research on, music, a part of humanities. A person who studies music is a musicologist. For broad treatments, see the entry on "musicology" in Grove's dictionary, the entry on "Musikwissenschaft" in Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, and the classic approach of Adler (1885)
Both approaches to music represent systematic study and the use of sophisticated analytical tools that reveal deep structures in sound sequences we call music as well as significant cognitive data about the process of hearing and enjoying - or not enjoying - music. But it would be a serious mistake to claim that any such approach is the ultimate truth about music, a sine non qua, comparing to which people talk about everyday experiences of singing, playing and listening to music is non-scientific rubbish.

For example, serious study of Mozart's compositions analyses the musical keys in which the harmonies and melodies are expressed. Intimate knowledge and non-stop practice of scales in these various keys are absolute requirements for professional level performances. Accordingly, there are mappings of Mozart's work that use musicologists' language and symbols to write down the key sequences in great detail. Other symbols are used to express analyses of rhythm, orchestration and other aspects of his work.

When looking at such studies of Mozart's composition those in the know learn much about the technical presentations and can have learned discussions of them with their colleagues. For a layman, the mappings are rather cryptic and do not make much sense because of the complicity. Blues structure is understood by almost everyone regardless of the key and numerous variations, the basic chords repeat themselves  I IV V I. No such luck with Mozart even with his "simple" C-major piano sonata!

But ...
Science of Music and Musicology describe music. The do not produce true music which humans, singing birds and the entire Creation can do to those who have ears.

Even best attempts to machine create music based on the knowledge and theories quickly fail the impeccable human musical ear test, Much produced popular music without true inspiration and innovation is boring as proven every year, for example, in the Eurovision Song Contest.

In addition to creative composition of music as art there is the creative performing, singing or playing of music. Professional musicians have often started very young and keep practicing all their life and yet cannot always produce inspiring performances. Even the best trained symphony orchestras fail sometimes to reach that very essence of music that the audience expects, feels and rewards with applauds and accolades. The subjective human element is very much present but this does not diminish the significance of the mathematical laws of music underlying everything, as already Pythagoras noted.

Psalm 19: Silent speech of the Universe
Scientific systematic study of Mozart is legitimate and one way at looking at his unparalleled musical genius. But an ignorant listening to La Notte di Figaro with only elementary understanding of theory has a different approach towards the sound world which is not only as legitimate but actually the original purpose of Amadeus. Not to shine displaying laws of music and harmony but to create what his inner ear hears.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Psalm 19:1-6 NIV

Sunday, September 20, 2015

An ignorant woman and an arrogant fool

Sunset in Idaho
Image DistanceBetweenCities

Let us call the elderly woman of our story Faith. She is a widow living alone in the farm house located in the Gem State of Idaho. Her children have long left home with little interest in cultivating potatoes. They have often invited her to move to the city and its services in order to be closer to them. But she loves the wide nature, fresh air and freedom of country life managing quite well despite having already passed her 80th birthday.

It is late afternoon and she is sitting outside with her grandson - let us call him Albert - who is visiting his grandmother on his way to Pocatello. He studies there nuclear energy in the University. As a top student, Albert is aiming high in life and is working hard on his doctoral in the Nuclear Energy Institute lab.

"Oh Albert" the grandmother says with much joy in her heart, "look at those twilight hues! See how the sun setting behind the mountains colors the sky in so many hues of orange, yellow and red in a way that best painters find difficult to imitate." Faith then continues by praising God "the works of our Lord are truly marvelous and show His love of beauty and His good will towards man making so many things for us to enjoy!"

Albert is a bit annoyed by the words of his ignorant grandmother who "fills with religion her lack of knowledge". True, she has had only limited education from the basic school she attended so many years ago as a young girl. But still, does she not know that sunlight travels a longer distance in the evening and morning which causes multiple scattering of violet and blue light passing through air molecules? Or any version of that common scientific knowledge? Clouds, dust and haze affect the process of turning blue sky into the fascinating display of reddish hues. Albert, of cause, knows much more than common people about the particles in the air down, photons and atoms. Therefore he sees clearly the total ignorance of her grandmother Faith in this matter.

Tapping the wooden chair nervously with his fingers Albert nevertheless answers to her politely "yes, Grandmother, this sunset is beautiful and truly a wonder of Nature!" They continue enjoying together the display of lights and colors on western sky as evening approaches.

Ignorant faith and arrogant knowledge
By giving glory to God the Creator, uneducated grandmother experiences joy and happiness just by looking at the setting sun. The Nature talks to her about the wisdom and greatness of its Maker and the One who has promised to take care of her now and forever. In her ignorance of modern science she is not different from Biblical persons living over 2000 years ago who knew nothing of Sir Isaac Newton or photons but correctly praised the God of Israel for His great works seen through the eyes of faith.

Arrogant knowledge, such as presented by people like the Albert of our story, was also known long ago when the books of the Bible were written. The famed letter by Paul addressed to the early Christians in the hub of classic civilization called the city of Rome dates to the first century AD.  The chosen Apostle of the Pagans wrote that such an arrogance towards the Truth is not at all a trivial matter
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Romans 1:18-23 NIV

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Psalm 8

Psalm 8

For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them[f] with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8 NIV

The beautiful and bright night sky of Psalm 8 proclaims the majesty of the name of God of Israel in simple yet very deep and meaningful manner. Today's believers in God, including astronomers and cosmologists, can join with the poet in the praise of God. The contents of this about 2500 years old text are surprisingly modern and the poem contains nothing about space and human beings that contradicts modern science.      

Jesus of Nazareth was intimately familiar with the Book of Psalms as we can see from His teachings. He refers to the children and infants mentioned in Psalm 8 when the ire of religious authorities is raised by His healing people and by children's praise
The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“‘From the lips of children and infants
    you, Lord, have called forth your praise?‘”
And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
Matthew 21:14 -17
Let the children sing the glory of God the Creator!