Sunday, 23 November 2014

Platygeanism, Biblical Literalism, and Martin Luther

I was recently asked
are you really saying that the flat earth people represent the majority of Christians?
Here's my answer:
No, not at all. Only the ones who take the Bible literally.

Very few do. Many say they do, but ask them if they believe snow and hail come from storehouses in the sky, as clearly stated in the book of Job, and they say "that bit's metaphorical". Yet Adam and Eve is not. Neither is the Great Flood, though that depends on the existence of a Firmament with valves in - the ""Windows of Heaven" to let the Waters Above in.

Martin Luther had it right. Either you can believe in scripture as inerrant and literal, or you can rely on "natural Philosophy" - science -, observable facts and reason. The two ideologies are irreconcilable. He therefore rejected reason and natural philosophy.

Natural philosophy because it was wicked,as it contradicted scripture. Reason because while it sometimes supported scripture, it just as often subverted it, it could never be relied on to tell you what you wanted to hear. It was, he said, a whore in that regard. The greatest enemy Faith has.

    "Scripture simply says that the moon, the sun, and the stars were placed in the firmament of the heaven, below and above which heaven are the waters...
    It is likely that the stars are fastened to the firmament like globes of fire, to shed light at night... We Christians must be different from the philosophers in the way we think about the causes of things. And if some are beyond our comprehension like those before us concerning the waters above the heavens, we must believe them rather than wickedly deny them or presumptuously interpret them in conformity with our understanding."

- Martin Luther, Luther's Works. Vol. 1. Lectures on Genesis

    “Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”

- Martin Luther

He was quite right. Reason will only tell you how things are, not how you know them to be through Faith alone.

To take as one example, the facts say that Herod died in 4BC, and that Quirinius became governor of Syria in 6CE, ten years later. The Bible says that Christ was born during Herod's reign, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

Reason would point out the contradiction. But Faith says the bible cannot by definition be erroneous or contradictory, so Reason must be abandoned.

Christ was born before 3BC, and also in 6CE, And if ( these facts) are beyond our comprehension we must believe them rather than wickedly deny them or presumptuously interpret them in conformity with our understanding.


Paula said...

So if Quirinius became governor in 6 B.C. and Herod died in 4 B.C. 2 years after that, then that places the birth of Christ quite precisely as between these two date, i.e. in the two years while Herod was King and Quirinius was Governor.

There is a fundamental error in your argument here, good theology is built on the three pillars of the Bible, previous studies, and our own observations. If our observations do not match what we think the Bible is telling us then either we are failing to observe correctly, or we are misunderstanding what the Bible is telling us.

Therefore if your observations tell you that all things were made in six days and that there was light on earth before the sun was made, then Genesis one is simple! If your observations tell you that this cannot be the case, then a little more effort needs to be put into understanding what God is telling us through this passage.

It is unfortunate that many believers are not prepared to the extra effort into seeking that understanding, just as many unbelievers are not prepared to seek a tre understanding of faith

Zoe Brain said...

So if Quirinius became governor in 6 B.C.

But he didn't.

He became governor not in 6 BC but 6 CE - 6 AD if you prefer.

10 years after Herod's death.

Regarding Biblical contradictions - not only does the Bible contradict scientific observations - for those contradictions can be dismissed as "metaphorical" descriptions - but it contradicts itself on basic facts. As with the birth date of Christ.

As here too.

Anonymous said...

I was about to counter that Job 26:10 suggests that the Earth is round. However, looking at Young's literal translation, I'm hard-pressed to find that there: "A limit He hath placed on the waters, Unto the boundary of light with darkness."

The other commonly-quoted counter is Isiah 40:22, which holds up a bit better under that translation "He who is sitting on the circle of the earth," However, I'm still not seeing anything that strongly suggests a sphere.

- Zimbel

Anonymous said...

Minor quibble - as we now use 0 in everything but CE/BCE, -5 CE (or AD) would probably be more useful than -6.


Anonymous said...

I retract my last post; misread your statement. Using -3 CE as the year of Herod's death would be useful- but that's not what you were talking about. I mixed up your en-dash with a minus sign :P

Personally, I treat such contradictions as evidence of the inaccuracy of the source.


Zoe Brain said...

Babylonian Cosmology, of which one of the two mutually contradictory stories in Genesis is a direct copy has the Earth as a circular, flat plate. A Disk.

Anonymous said...

Interesting; I had assumed that the Babylonians had strong evidence that the Earth was spherical due to their astronomy. That said, I'm not clear when that occurred.

It's pretty clear that Seleucus of Seleucia recognized that the Earth rotated around an axis - but that would have been very late Babylonian (if he was, indeed, Chaldean), after the Torah was likely collated.

- Zimbel

Anonymous said...

It looks like my understanding of Babylonian history is weaker than I thought; by the time Seleucus of Seleucia lived, Chaldean referred to something like a class, not people of Chaldea (which had been absorbed centuries prior).