Monday, December 7, 2015

Lyra theology: everything or nothing

Diagram of a contact binary
Image David Darling, The Internet Encyclopedia of Science
V361 Lyrae consists of two stars that are rotating each other so close that they are actually in contact. There are two cores but a single common envelope giving the visual appearance of a single star. Both components fill their Roche lobes (the volume around a star in a binary system in which, if you were to release a particle, it would fall back onto the surface of that star. D. Darling).

The chronologically latest texts in the collection of sacred books called the New Testament are currently dated to second century AD. The bulk of Old Testament was written during and before the Achaemenid Empire and the most ancient parts reaching the Sumerian culture. Accordingly, the writers of the Bible lived some 2000 to 3000 years ago.

For the Biblical writers skylight was thus the light visible to naked-eye. Babylonian world view was dominant in the Levant until the Greco-Roman period. In Old Testament period the position of stars flying high up on the sky was explained with the help of raqia, usually translated vaguely as firmament. It probably was imagined as a kind of cupola over the flat Earth holding up the Sun, Moon, the five visible planets and those countless little twinkling points of light, the stars in heaven.

The ancient Near Eastern and classical period understandings of the relationship between Earth and the stars above is of only historical importance to students of modern Astronomy and Cosmology. it can be studied and compared to other models known, for example, from Indian peninsula, Far East and pre-Columbian Americas (Cultural Astronomy).

Scientific information about the contact binary V361 Lyrae would be totally out of the reach of the writers of the Bible. It is quite recent knowledge about Nature that also the most educated academic minds of the 19th and much of the 20th century had no idea about.

Theological note

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth
Genesis 1:1

The first verse of the Bible is all-inclusive.  

Despite of the fact that the writers of the Bible had a very limited geocentric world view, we believe that the Scriptures are inspired by the God of Israel who has created V361 Lyrae. 

The opening verse challenges us: either He has created absolutely everything there is, including you and me and is the only true God there is. Or we may conclude that God of Israel has created nothing and is therefore not a true God but a creature of brilliant human minds.

It does not matter how deep we get into the physical characteristics of the contact binary V361 Lyrae, we will not find God there. Modifying the words in St. Augustine's Confessions, also this amazing pair of stars joins all Creature and tells us "He is not here but He has made us."

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